clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

If Dak Prescott can solve the Giants’ defense, he may be ready to destroy the NFL

Dak’s worst games last year were against the Giants. If he can figure them out, the rest of the NFL ought to be very concerned.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

How can Dak Prescott top his best-in-NFL-history rookie campaign? By elevating his game against the best defenses the NFL has to offer.

Last year, the New York Giants had the second best real quarterback defensive rating in the NFL. And it showed up against Dak Prescott, who overall posted a 104.7 quarterback rating on the season, but didn’t do nearly as well in his two appearances against the Giants, his only two losses.

Let’s revisit Dak’s stats from last year.

Week QB CMP ATT CMP% YDS ANY/A TD INT RATE
1 Prescott 25 45 55.60% 227 5 0 69.4
2 Prescott 22 30 73.30% 292 8.2 0 103.7
3 Prescott 19 24 79% 248 11.1 1 123.6
4 Prescott 23 32 71.90% 245 8.05 2 114.7
5 Prescott 18 24 75% 227 9.68 1 117.9
6 Prescott 18 27 66.60% 247 8.55 3 1 117.4
7 Prescott 19 39 48.70% 287 6.53 2 1 79.8
8 Prescott 21 27 77.77% 247 11.3 3 0 141.8
9 Prescott 22 32 68.75% 319 9.85 2 0 121.7
10 Prescott 27 36 75.00% 301 9.7 3 0 127.2
11 Prescott 17 24 70.80% 195 8 1 0 108.9
12 Prescott 12 18 66.66% 139 6.85 1 0 108.3
13 Prescott 17 37 45.94% 165 2.05 1 2 45.4
14 Prescott 32 36 88.80% 279 6.76 0 0 99
15 Prescott 15 20 75.00% 212 12.42 3 0 148.3
16 Prescott 4 8 50.00% 37 4.62 0 0 63
Playoffs Prescott 24 38 63.20% 302 7.65 3 1 103.2
Total 335 497 67.60% 3969 7.9 26 4 104.77

We’ve highlighted his two worst games, both of which were against the Giants. In those two games, Dak went 42 of 82, for 392 yards, one TD and two INTs. His completion percentage was 51% (versus 67.6% on the year), his ANY/A was 3.61 (versus 7.9 on the year), and his quarterback rating was 58.59 (versus 104.7 on the year).

His other “bad” game was the first game against Philadelphia, when he went 19 for 39, for a 79.8 quarterback rating. Yet the Cowboys won that game after Dak rallied them from a 23-13 fourth quarter deficit to win 29-23 in overtime. Dak also didn’t have much time to get into a rhythm in the end-of-season game against Philadelphia, when he was pulled after throwing just eight passes.

If you removed these four games, this is what Dak Prescott’s stat line would look like.

Att Cmp Percent Yards ANY/A TD INT Rating
Total 270 368 73.91% 3253 8.88 23 2 118.64

These are 2016 MVP Matt Ryan numbers. Ryan’s quarterback rating was 117.1, and his ANY/A was 9.03. If Dak posted a 118.64 passer rating, it would be the fourth highest single season of all time. Moreover, if you give Dak credit for his rushing totals, in which he ran 57 times for 282 yards and six touchdowns, those numbers would look even better.

Last year, Dak played in only six games against teams that ranked in the top-10 on defensive real quarterback rating, and one of those was the meaningless last contest against Philadelphia, when he was pulled early. But only the Giants got the best of him and the Cowboys. This year, he’s likely to face stiffer competition, with the Giants still up twice, but also Denver, Kansas City, Arizona, the LA Chargers, and Seattle on the schedule.

How can Dak beat these teams, especially when he’s facing the loss of Ezekiel Elliott in games against the Giants, Broncos, and Cardinals the first three weeks?

If preseason is any indication, the formula seems to be:

  • Dez Bryant returning to his healthy, unstoppable ways
  • Continued mind-meld with Cole Beasley
  • Using Jason Witten on some down-the-field throws to supplement his normal chain-moving possession catches
  • Much better reception rate with Brice Butler
  • Additions of Rico Gathers as an explosive tight end option, and Ryan Switzer as a Cole Beasley clone with better after-the-catch running ability
  • More shotgun and empty sets, and perhaps a more judicious use of his running ability.

Dak will need to continue protecting the football. But he’s certain to see the field better, understand the playbook better, and be able to execute plays better than he did last year. All of this bodes well for Dak figuring out the Giants, and once he does, the rest of the NFL better beware!