Since the conclusion of last season, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has come under fire for his turnover-prone 2022. Though he played in only twelve games, Prescott led the NFL with fifteen interceptions last year, creating plenty of criticism against the former Offensive Rookie of the Year. Prescott addressed the level of scrutiny that comes with playing for the Dallas Cowboys and his turnovers from his last season.
“We are a talking point,” the Cowboys QB said at his youth football camp earlier in July, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “As you find something to talk about, that’s the first thing to go to.”
“I won’t have 10 interceptions this year.”
If that was the actual quote, it’s a bold claim from Prescott, considering how frequently the Cowboys pass the ball, with Prescott averaging 469 pass attempts per year for his career. Yet, considering Prescott’s reasoning for his return to form this season makes a lot of sense.
Prescott, confident in the caliber of player he is, expounded on some of his interceptions and the factors that contributed to such negative plays.
“I know who I am, and you can go back and take away half of those off drops,” Prescott said. “I’m not saying it’s on the receiver, but if you cut that in half then we start talking about those, nobody is talking about it.”
Again if that was the actual quote, Prescott would have a point. Obviously he doesn’t want to trash his receivers, but there is no getting away form the fact they didn’t help him at times. When the Cowboys suffered a devastating 40-34 overtime loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last December, much of the ensuing dialogue was about merely Prescott throwing an interception that was returned for a game-ending touchdown. Largely ignored was Prescott placing a catchable pass in the hands of Noah Brown before it was it was mishandled by Brown and falling in the waiting arms of Rayshawn Jenkins, headed in the other direction.
We use that play not to deflect from Prescott’s interceptions, but to provide a layer of context, and a great example of context is PFF’s turnover-worthy plays. Here’s a rundown showing how unlucky Prescott was in regards to interceptions last year.
While not quite half [of Prescott’s INTs] can be attributed to drops, four of his regular-season interceptions did include deflections off Dallas receivers — with a couple of them almost certain to fall harmlessly if otherwise untouched — and another found now-teammate Stephon Gilmore as a WR fell after contact.
Opposing defenses also capitalized on Prescott’s turnover-worthy plays at a high rate.
Prescott tied for 13th in the league with 18 turnover-worthy plays in the regular season, alongside other stars such as Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Kyler Murray, according to Pro Football Focus. Mahomes and Rodgers both threw 12 picks, while Murray only tossed seven. Josh Allen and Geno Smith led the league with 29 turnover-worthy plays apiece, and they, too, got away with fewer interceptions.
Now back to the supposed quote. Contrary to what made the rounds across the internet, Dak never said 10 interceptions, but tipped interceptions. As noted by ESPN’s Todd Archer right here.
What Dak Prescott actually said from his youth camp when discussing Mike McCarthy's impact on the pass game: "They know where the hell to be, why to be and when they’re getting looked at. That’s going to be a big jump, I think. We won’t have those tipped interceptions this year."— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) July 17, 2023
In this case, he’s talking about better synergy between all parties. With head coach Mike McCarthy now playing a more direct and integral role in the offense this season, overall communication within the trio of play-caller, quarterback, and receivers should improve, and by proxy, Prescott.