Those with a critical eye on Dallas' 2017 schedule, offseason departures and performance in the draft could have made a reasonable argument for a Cowboys regression this season.

The wildcard in any scenario was quarterback Dak Prescott who, with or without the potentially suspended Ezekiel Elliott, has the ability to keep a talented roster afloat.

"There's definitely no panic," Prescott told the Dallas Morning News. "We're getting better. We're heading in the direction that we want to. We just have to turn some of these close losses into wins and we'll be right where we need to be."

Prescott was being asked this reflective line of questioning because the 2-3 Cowboys have already lost as many games as they did all of last season. The fear with this team was always what would happen when they came back to earth after a starlit 2016 given that their lynchpins were both rookies with no experience digging an NFL team out of a hole.

Sure enough, Prescott is now tasked with doing just that.

With games against the winless San Francisco 49ers and division-rival Washington Redskins coming up, Dallas has been gifted an opportunity to stay alive in the NFC East and get themselves above .500. Their first of two matchups against the division-leading Philadelphia Eagles is still a month away. In that time frame, it should be easy to tell whether Prescott and his supporting cast are truly not panicking, or if 2016 was a memory to cherish.