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Tale of the tape: Coaching and defense waste a masterful performance from Dak Prescott in week 10

The All-22 was tough to watch, but it wasn’t all negative.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

After an exciting two-game winning streak, the Cowboys laid a stinker on Sunday Night Football against a tough Minnesota Vikings team at home.

While there was plenty of negative to takeaway from this performance, the majority of this breakdown is going to be looking at Dak Prescott’s night, which will go down as one of his best performances of his career. Let’s take a look.

A few of Dak Prescott’s biggest concerns coming into his fourth year surrounded his accuracy and anticipation. Those narratives have officially been “kilt”. Prescott showed pin-point accuracy and great anticipation against the Vikings last week. This play is a great example of the anticipation Dak is throwing the football with on some of the deeper routes down the field.

When Prescott releases this football, Cooper is still in a full stride before getting his chest over his knees and working back to the football. If Dak waits for Cooper to get his head back to the football before releasing it, the defensive back has the ability to play the football, and possibly pick it off.

The second concern for Dak Prescott heading into the year was Dak Prescott’s accuracy. Dak Prescott leads all advanced metrics in regards to quarterback accuracy, and throws like these are the reasons why.

Prescott takes a big hit at the point of release here, but is still able to put this ball in a perfect window for Michael Gallup on third down. Along with the difficulty of the throw, Prescott was in complete control at the line of scrimmage, changing the play and protection twice to get into a favorable look.

Another week, another throw where I say out loud “that’s one of the best throws of Dak Prescott’s career”. Another third and long for the Cowboys offense, and Dak Prescott digs them out of a hole with a ridiculous throw to Amari Cooper along the sideline against cornerback Mike Hughes.

To get this ball over the cornerback with touch, while also getting enough on the football so the Vikings secondary can’t react in time to make a play on the ball is just ridiculous. Even from a clean pocket, this is a very difficult throw, but Prescott gets drilled by two Minnesota defensive lineman at his release point as well, which makes this throw even more crazy. Amari Cooper does an excellent job of keeping two feet in bounds, and hauling in a not so easy ball.

As soon as this play happened, Aaron Rodgers came to mind. For years, we’ve watched Rodgers draw defenses offsides, and somehow deliver an impossible ball into a tight window for a big play. Here, Dak Prescott does his best Aaron Rodgers impression, with one of Rodgers old buddies.

Prescott fits this football into a window that really doesn’t even exist. On a free play, all Prescott needs to do is give Cobb a chance, instead, he puts the ball into a window that makes the probability of a completion very likely. Cobb does an excellent job of tracking the football all the way in and making an extremely difficult grab for a touchdown.

Yet another great throw from Dak Prescott into a tight window for Amari Cooper. The arm strength, body control, and accuracy involved in this throw while on the run is remarkable. Along with the difficulty of the throw, Dak has to take into account the underneath defender in coverage on the receiver underneath Amari Cooper. If you’re a young kid looking to play quarterback at a high level, this throw shows it all. Mobility, arm strength, accuracy, and most importantly, lower body mechanics while on the move.

Kellen Moore showed some interesting wrinkles in week 10. From the Randall Cobb reverse pass (incomplete), to this wildcat formation in the red zone, there were a handful of things we saw that should get us excited.

While they didn’t run a play out of the wildcat formation, they did get into another play-fake look, faking the jet-sweep to Tony Pollard, then finding Amari Cooper in the corner of the end zone for another toe-tap catch and touchdown. Another football from Dak that makes it impossible for a Minnesota Viking to make a play on the football or receiver.

Dak Prescott’s ability to escape pressure has been a roller coaster throughout his career. In year one, Prescott was magnificent getting out of trouble and finding the open man, but in years two and three, Prescott took far too many sacks trying to extend plays.

Prescott is back to his freshman season form showing the ability to get out of trouble, keep his eyes down field, and find the open man to move the chains. Prescott is not taking sacks in 2019, in fact, Prescott leads the league with the lowest quarterback sack percentage out of all starting quarterbacks. Along with his ability to extend plays, Prescott is often finding an open man in a high percentage of these snaps, and is taking care of the football when getting outside of the pocket. All great signs for the success of the Cowboys offense.

When the Cowboys needed it most, Dak Prescott made some gutsy throws down the field to set his team up with the opportunity to win the football game. Some questionable play calls on offense and special teams, and the lack of success from the defense let #4 and his passing game down, yet again.

This is the second time this year, when trailing, that Prescott delivers an absolute strike, through coverage, in the middle of the field, for big chunks of yards. Both of those throws wen to Randall Cobb (Saints & here). If this ball is late, it’s (likely) picked off. If this ball is off target, it’s (likely) picked off. If this ball is rifled, it’s (likely) picked off. This is a P-E-R-F-E-C-T throw with zero margin for error, but like he has been all season, Prescott is right on the money.

It’s unfortunate to sit down and watch Dak Prescott play at an MVP level week in and week out, only for the defense, coaching, or poor execution let him down in a handful of games this year. With the Cowboys sitting at 5-4, Prescott isn’t getting the credit or MVP consideration he deserves, but don’t let that fool you. Prescott is playing the best football of his career, and it’s hard to point to another quarterback in the NFL playing better through week 10.

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