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Don’t let the last 8 games for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott overshadow his first 24

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Dak Prescott is a lot better than his critics want to admit.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott started a buzz this week when he spoke about wanting to achieve the title of “best Cowboys quarterback ever.”

“I want to be the best I can,” Prescott told reporters at the Cowboys’ Reliant Home Run Derby to benefit the Salvation Army at Dr Pepper Ballpark. “I want to be the best quarterback that the Cowboys ever had. So when I go in each and every day, it’s just about being the best player I can be. All that stuff comes when you play the game well.”

No matter where the offseason conversations go they always end right back at the quarterback. Frankly, seeing social media littered with criticism over Prescott expressing his aspirations is just nonsense. We should be excited that this young quarterback has such high expectations for himself. Sure, the Cowboys have quite a rich history at the position and he will no doubt have to earn the hardware to even enter the conversation. Still, the narrative that Prescott had this awful season that exposed him is flawed. It’s quite literally based on the final eight games of last year as if the first 24 games of his career were a mirage.

Through his first two dozen games, Prescott completed 474 passes, had 5,485 passing yards, 39 touchdowns, eight interceptions, and 102.4 passer rating. The Cowboys were also 18-6 in that period of time but then all hell broke loose. Following that week nine win versus the Chiefs, this Cowboys team played some of it’s worst football in franchise history. Prescott doesn’t escape unscathed from blame but don’t dismiss the losses of Tyron Smith, Ezekiel Elliott, Sean Lee, and Dan Bailey all at the same time playing a big part in that.

Prescott was sacked 14 times in the matter of 12 days in three games and had absolutely no faith in the left side of his offensive line. The offense dropped from averaging 28 points in the first eight games to averaging 16 points in the final eight. From week 10-12, the Cowboys only averaged seven points per contest. The point is the entire team collapsed as the defense gave up 92 points in those three weeks as well.

Despite such a terrible team cratering, they managed to win four out of their last five games. Catalysts returned to the field, Prescott was able to improve his accuracy, and the team rattled off three-straight victories scoring 88 points in that stretch. Plain and simple, the Cowboys didn’t get the job done and it sprouted the wholesale changes we’ve seen in the organization this offseason.

In his last eight games, Prescott completed 62.6% of his passes, had 1,506 passing yards, with six touchdowns, nine interceptions, and a 74.9 passer rating. As ugly as those numbers look, it’s a bad snap shot of an otherwise impressive two-year run. In fact, you could put Prescott’s numbers up against any Cowboys quarterback with significant starting experience and he comes out pretty favorable. Even at Prescott’s worst, he’s got some former Cowboys beat.

Quarterback NFL Exp. When Made Starter Two Season W/L Record Passing Yards Comp. % TDs INTs Avg. Passer Rating
Dak Prescott Rookie 22-10 6,991 65.2 45 17 95.5
Tony Romo Fourth Year 19-7 7,114 64.8 55 32 96.3
Quincy Carter Rookie 6-9 2,537 53.8 12 15 67.6
Troy Aikman Rookie 7-19 4,328 54.7 20 36 61.1
Steve Pelluer Third Year 5-8 3,369 55.7 11 19 71.7
Gary Hogeboom Fifth Year 6-6 3,344 54.3 12 21 67.2
Danny White Fifth Year 23-8 6,385 58.3 50 38 84.1
Roger Staubach Rookie (1969 though drafted 1964) 3-1 963 51.3 3 10 56.2
Craig Morton Rookie + Third Year (No starts year 2) 2-2 1,151 50.2 10 10 56.3
Don Meredith Rookie 2-2-1 1,442 47.1 11 16 48.5

Dak hasn’t just outdone former Cowboys though as our own, Cole Patterson, pointed out earlier this week:

Through his first 31 NFL games, Dak Prescott has accounted for 45 passing touchdowns (only 17 interceptions), 6,991 yards through the air, 65.2% completion percentage, 639 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, and a 95.5 QB Rating. That’s pretty impressive, to say the least.

Those stats stack up extremely well to other quarterbacks through their first two seasons (A = Brett Favre, B = Dak, C = Drew Brees, D = Tom Brady):

The idea of Dak taking a giant step back doesn’t square with the fact that he only saw a decrease of one spot in Total QBR. That’s right, in 2016, Prescott had a total QBR of 77.6, which ranked third behind Matt Ryan and Tom Brady. That 77.6 would have been good for first place this past season, even better than MVP candidate Wentz. His 66.7 total QBR this past season ranked him fourth behind Carson Wentz, Case Keenum, and Tom Brady. Not such a far fall after all which makes hot takes like this hot trash:

People have really been creative this offseason in finding ways to discredit Dak Prescott but the above has to be the winner. Prescott is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and the Cowboys have dialed up their commitment to him. Basing an entire evaluation on eight games where he went .500 while failing to acknowledge what he did prior is the worst kind of scouting report because it’s simply incomplete.