The talk around Dallas this week leading up to the NFC East Championship game is how effective can Dak Prescott be with his injury to his throwing shoulder?
While there’s no way to be sure just how effective #4 will be on Sunday, we can take a look at his performance last wee AFTER injuring his shoulder to see how/if it hindered him. It should be stated that it’s unlikely that much swelling or inflammation of the shoulder had already kicked in during the game last Sunday, but it’s still something to look at as we wait to see how he does against the Eagles this Sunday.
Here's every pass attempt Dak Prescott made after injuring his shoulder in the first quarter of the Rams game.— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
#1 - dump off to Zeke. Ball tipped at the line scrimmage. pic.twitter.com/0xPxOHwIsb
#2 - PA boot-leg to Witten. Ball right where it needed to be. pic.twitter.com/kwYa3HdjuN— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
While it should be pointed out that this isn’t an extremely difficult throw, it is important to point out that the ball placement here, while avoiding an unblocked defender is on point.
#3 - incomplete on the hitch to Witten. Ball may be slightly behind him, but there's zero reason for Witten to be falling over at the catch point.— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
100% on 82. pic.twitter.com/SLIh4g7A86
Here’s one of the few intermediate to deep throws that Prescott attempted after injuring the shoulder on Sunday. Prescott puts this ball right where it needs to be, but for some odd reason, Witten seems to fall over at the catch point. There's plenty of velocity on the football, and the ball placement is just fine.
#4 - avoiding a free rusher, and making this throw 20 yards down field, across your body, with a 100% healthy shoulder is extremely difficult. Ball isn't perfect but it gave Cooper a chance, and he didn't disappoint. pic.twitter.com/7TvIiqSGkq— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
This throw gives me confidence that Prescott will be plenty capable on Sunday in Philadelphia. While avoiding a free rusher, rolling out to his right, then throwing 20+ yards down field across his body, Prescott gives Cooper a chance on a dart down the field. If his shoulder was severely injured, I don’t see a way that he’s able to get this amount of velocity on the football without being able to set his base, and get his lower half into the throw.
#5 - Another boot to 82. Nothing special, but ball is accurate and on time. pic.twitter.com/xADQQimLTN— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
#6 - RPO slant to Gallup. Drops down side-arm to avoid the DL. Ball looks to be thrown on the money, but Gallup stops his route.— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
Not sure this is before or after the exchange where Dak told him he wouldn't be throwing the RPO. pic.twitter.com/tfiLTjk3nT
Here’s another example of Prescott being able to put plenty of velocity on his throws, even from an awkward arm slot. Gallup makes a dangerous decision on this play by stopping his route, but thankfully the defensive back can’t handle the throw (due to the velocity), that hits him right in the numbers.
#7 - Dak avoids the big hit, but still takes an awkward fall. While being pulled down by the right side of his body, he's able to somehow get the ball out to avoid the sack. pic.twitter.com/iEVFVIh6Wj— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
Another confidence booster heading into Sunday. If Prescott is able to get this ball off, while being drug to the ground by a blitzing linebacker, I have a hard time imagining him not being able to give it a go in Philadelphia. Of course, adrenaline is helping with a lot of these in the moment, but still, it would likely take something freaky to hold Prescott out in week 16.
#8 - TD to Witten. Ball slightly behind him, but puts it on his back shoulder. Little room for error here with the DB trailing on the back hip. pic.twitter.com/J61PrNx4Ib— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
Ball placement on the Witten touchdown could be a little better, but it’s still not a big enough miss where I question if this was due to the shoulder, or just a slight miss by Dak himself. There’s little room for error on this throw, due to the trailing defensive back, so that fact that Prescott got enough on the football, while also being somewhat accurate on another 20+ yard throw is very encouraging.
#9 - Tavon Austin TD. Not much to say here, other than avoiding another free rusher, and just putting the ball up in the air for a wide open Austin. pic.twitter.com/pVJApflGUk— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
While little-to-no-accuracy was needed on the Tavon Austin touchdown due to how wide open he was, it’s still encouraging to see that the shoulder didn’t stop him from launching a 59-yard touchdown (35 air yards) to Tavon Austin.
#10 - another situation where while the throw isn't difficult, the ball placement is perfect to give Jarwin YAC advantage. pic.twitter.com/INeorWhP3c— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
#12 - screen to zeke in redzone pic.twitter.com/5HIqyp66Ms— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
*Quarterback sneak on 4th and 1*
#14 - screen to Cobb. Dropped, but wasn't going to get much either way. Plenty of velocity on the ball. pic.twitter.com/GQ83kG8uol— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
Another throw that shows plenty of velocity, ball placement, and shoulder mobility. This is a rather quick release for Prescott, from a sidearm arm-slot that he’s still able to get plenty of velocity on to give Randall Cobb a chance on the screen.
#15 - Dak scrambles, avoiding another sack. pic.twitter.com/UOBcHaXZcl— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
If the shoulder was killing him, you’d think Prescott would be hesitant to run when things weren’t there through the air, but that was not the case on Sunday. Prescott was very aggressive to run when things weren’t there, which is surprising because most of the year that’s been something we’ve wanted to see more of.
#16 - Check down to Zeke in the flat for a nice gain. pic.twitter.com/wUj0uOetjp— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
#17 - Screen to Michael Gallup. Another awkward arm slot, that Dak doesn't seem to have an issue with. pic.twitter.com/GYN58hTJTW— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
We saw Prescott throw from more awkward arm slots on Sunday than we’ve seen the whole season. Is that a good sign or a bad sign?
#18 - Another scramble for Prescott. With a banged up shoulder, he showed more willingness to run last Sunday than he has all season. pic.twitter.com/9LR8Wq6gXP— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
#19 - Don't like the decision here from Dak, but he see's the collusion and thinks he has space to fit it in. Had to be some sort of mixup here in routes by Jarwin or Cooper as they end up picking off each other. pic.twitter.com/St6wI08MNW— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
#20 - Another dump off to the RB in the flat. Look like Pollard was the 4th read in his progression, so he isn't just looking to get it out. pic.twitter.com/4KSHtfoETA— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
Dak’s target depth in the second half was way down, but that had a lot to do with the game script, being up three possessions, and the running game was working as well as it could. This play here shows that he wasn’t checking down due to pain, or the inability to push the ball down the field. Pollard looks to be Dak’s fourth read on this play, so the willingness to still get the ball to the open man down field is there.
#21 - design throw to Zeke off the play-fake. Another easy pitch and catch. pic.twitter.com/3wmkxvCO8I— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
#22 - Another screen attempt to Cobb. Gallup couldn't quite seal his block on the outside. Ball is outside of Cobb's frame, but it kinda has to be because of the blitzing DB. pic.twitter.com/83Tc1huj8D— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) December 20, 2019
*Quarterback sneak on 3rd and 1*
*Broken play at the mesh-point resulting in a fumble between Dak Prescott and Tony Pollard. With the injured shoulder, Prescott jumps on the ball as if it’s a one possession game*
*Kneel to end game*
While it’s unfair to compare last Sunday to this Sunday, last Sunday post-injury shows a ton of encouraging signs to give Cowboys Nation confidence in their starting quarterback, with the NFC East Championship on the line against the teams biggest division rival.