After the most recent playoff loss, some Dallas Cowboys fans have speculated that Dak Prescott might not be good enough to win a Super Bowl. These concerns are valid given Prescott’s 1-3 record in the postseason.
However, what Sunday proved is that Prescott is good enough to at least reach the big game. With Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow set to face off in Super Bowl LVI, why are we hesitant to believe Prescott can’t be in a similar position?
Dak Prescott can reach a Super Bowl
Granted, this argument will largely center around a comparison to the current situation. But if we know Burrow and Stafford are “Super Bowl-caliber” quarterbacks, is it ridiculous to believe Prescott is on the same tier?
When the Cowboys were eliminated, it was reasonable to think that Dallas wasn’t capable of beating the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, or Patrick Mahomes in 2021. But seeing that Burrow and Stafford accomplished it, we should believe Prescott can do it as well.
Because Prescott isn’t far off:
- Prescott finished with better stats than Stafford in the following metrics during the regular season: completion percentage, interceptions, turnover-worthy plays, adjusted completion percentage, pressure to sack rate, passer rating, and nearly every rushing metric.
- Prescott finished with better stats than Burrow in the following metrics during the regular season: touchdowns, interceptions, success rate on dropbacks, first downs, completion percentage on 20+ yard passes, adjusted completion percentage on 20+ yard passes, and most rushing metrics.
The argument is not that Prescott is better than Burrow or Stafford, that comes down to personal opinion. But Prescott is at least on the same tier as these two quarterbacks, and all of these statistics include twelve “slump” games for Dak.
But Burrow was dealing with a worse offensive line than Prescott through the entire season and it was pure will and determination that brought the Bengals to the Super Bowl, right? Not at all. Prescott and Burrow actually finished the season tied by quarterback pressures faced, but the only difference was Prescott was better at getting the ball out, thus leading to 21 fewer sacks than Burrow.
So, where is this massive difference in the skill level between Prescott and the two Super Bowl quarterbacks? Dak is comparable to Burrow and Stafford by most metrics, the Cowboys' offensive line isn’t noticeably different than the “horrible” Bengals line, and yet there is still a thought that Prescott just doesn’t have what it takes.
Prescott isn’t on the Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen tier where, even when everything else goes wrong, they will be competitive in a game because of their talent alone. But the same is true for Stafford and Burrow. Both the Bengals and Rams needed their defense to produce critical stops in the second half of the Conference Championship games so they could complete their respective comebacks.
Now, before this turns into blind support for a quarterback with a 25% winning percentage in the postseason, the limitations should be addressed. Yes, Dak Prescott can be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, but it might be an uphill battle.
For starters, we have to buy into the fact that the final twelve games of 2021 weren’t prescriptive of the real Dak. If Prescott continues to play the way he did after the bye, then he is nowhere near the same tier of Burrow and Stafford and is likely more comparable to Carson Wentz.
Thus, if you believe that weeks eight through eighteen Dak are more indicative of his abilities than weeks one through six, you’re fair to believe he will likely never win a Super Bowl. However, given that Prescott was playing through several injuries, the collapse of the offensive line through the back half of the year, and four full seasons that suggest he is better than what we saw, weeks eight through eighteen is likely more an exception than the rule.
Now, the second most obvious argument is that this is an odd year in the NFL and a Burrow-Stafford Super Bowl is an anomaly. This is fair given that 2022 will be the first time in eight years the Super Bowl does not include Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning. Maybe this is just a weird year where the league's best quarterbacks faltered in the postseason.
However, over this same eight-year stretch, quarterbacks such as Nick Foles, Jared Goff, and Jimmy Garoppolo all appeared in a Super Bowl. There are countless examples of teams making it to the big game despite not having a Hall of Fame quarterback.
The intention of this is not to unnecessarily support Dak Prescott, he shouldn’t be considered as one of the leagues’ best quarterbacks. It’s worth mentioning again that he likely won’t lead the Cowboys to their sixth Super Bowl on his talent alone.
But to say that Dak Prescott can never be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback also seems misguided. He is close to the same tier as Burrow and Stafford, two signal-callers now playing for a ring.
Sure, Dak will need a complete team around him, and in 2021 the shortcoming was a poor offensive line and a defense that struggled to stop the run. Maybe you don’t believe Jerry Jones will ever be able to build a truly well-rounded team. Maybe you want that elite, Hall of Fame quarterback. Maybe Prescott never sees the Super Bowl.
All of these can be entirely true, while we also acknowledge that Dak has the potential to lead a Super Bowl-winning team. There is a lot of grey area in the NFL where quarterbacks might win it all despite not being one of the best of all time, and others might never win despite consistently being among the best.
But for now, we have to hope that Dak rebounds in a big way and Jerry figures out how to build a complete team around him. We shouldn’t give up on Prescott yet.