Dak Prescott has experienced the hills and valleys of being the Cowboys quarterback in his short time at the helm. Through his first 24 games, he was lauded as the “steal of the draft”, and was set to be the next franchise quarterback of the NFL’s richest franchise. In games 25-35, the bloom was off the rose, and Prescott entered his “broken” era. In nine of 11 starts, through week four of this season, Prescott had failed to meet the standard 200-yard passing mark that NFL quarterbacks routinely hit week-to-week. The Cowboys were also 5-6 in those 11 games.
That was then, this is now, let’s talk about Prescott’s slow climb out of the depths of despair. It’s taken Dak a lot of work and the results haven’t been perfect but he’s steered himself back on course:
Dak Prescott's last eight games:— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) November 28, 2018
66.3% completion percentage
1,929 pass yards
194 rushing yards
16 TD's (5 rushing & 11 passing)
99.9 passer rating
Since people asked, through the last eight games, Prescott has fumbled eight times, and has lost 3 of those.— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) November 28, 2018
In seven of his last eight starts, Dak has eclipsed that 200-yard passing mark and the Cowboys are 5-3. In the lone game under 200, Prescott passed for 183 yards, two passing touchdowns, and a 107.5 passer rating. He also added a career-high 82 yards rushing, one rushing score, as the Cowboys smoked the Jaguars 40-7.
Right now, the Cowboys are riding a three-game win-streak as they stare down the 10-1 Saints ahead of Thursday Night Football. The team around Prescott is just simply much better with the addition of Amari Cooper, which we’ve gone over several times. Ezekiel Elliott has been a monster and the offense has been back to their grind-it-out ways during this mini-streak. The talent around Prescott has done their part to assist in putting their quarterback on track.
Dak is not a “natural passer” by any means but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad passer. He may never break a single franchise passing record but as cliche as it sounds, the dude is a winner. Even future Hall-of-Fame coach Sean Payton gushed a little over Dak and what he sees in him:
“I think he is in exceptional leader. You just watch his presence and when he came into this league. I think he is strong in the pocket and he is a guy who can come out of trouble if you will. He can come off of sacks, out of tackles, extend plays. I think he has a real good presence in the pocket. He can beat you with his arm and he can beat you with his feet. He is a winner and those are the things that you see him doing the last three weeks now. They (Cowboys) kind of have things going.”
We have to remember that as bad as portions of last season were and six games without Zeke was a gut punch, Dallas finished one game out of the playoffs at 9-7. The Cowboys had been outscored 92-22 in weeks 9-11. Dak was the lead engineer of a three-game win streak that followed where Dallas outscored opponents 88-41. In those wins against Washington, at Oakland, and at New York, Prescott posted a 97 passer rating, threw for 646 yards, and was responsible for six touchdowns with two interceptions.
In the first seven games of this season, Dak completed only 62% of his passes and had a passer rating of 88. He also had an 8-4 TD-INT ratio, had just two rushing TD’s, averaged 202.4 passing yards per game, and the team was 3-5 at the halfway mark. In the four games since, Prescott is completing 70%, is averaging 252.5 passing yards per game, has a 5-1 TD-INT ratio, a 103.8 passer rating, three rushing scores, and Dallas is 3-1. A lot of praise can be spread around to his supporting cast and coaches but don’t dismiss Dak’s own desire to be better. Here is his NextGen passing grid from 2017, it’s not very pretty:
Here is where Dak Prescott is now, it’s encouraging:
We’re certainly not suggesting that Dak is off the hook, he’s got a steeper climb now to meet franchise expectations than ever before. After all, the expectations were set by him in the first place following his dazzling rookie season. He’s still working on technique, trusting protection, stepping up in the pocket, seeing the field, and anticipating throws. That internal clock still ticks a little fast too which leads to happy feet in the pocket, resulting in untimely sacks. These are things that he has been working tirelessly to correct and he tends to get better as the game progresses, he just needs more fine-tuning in consistency.
As we divvy out the commendations for Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Marc Colombo, Jason Garrett and even Scott Linehan, let’s not forget the most important player on the field. Credit is due for this quarterback because without him stepping his game up, it wouldn’t matter who was around him or who is calling the plays. Dak Prescott may not be completely “fixed” but he sure isn’t “broken”.