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Cowboys countdown to kickoff: #4 Dak Prescott

The Dallas Cowboys face the New York Giants in Week 1. And we’re counting down to it by jersey numbers.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

We’re continuing our countdown to the opening game of the Dallas Cowboys 2023 regular season. Each day we’ll present a new player whose jersey number represents the countdown to opening day. Today is number 4.

QB Dak Prescott
Born: 29th July 1993 (30) - Sulphur, Louisiana
College: Mississippi State Bulldogs
Draft: 2016, Round 4, Pick 135, Dallas Cowboys

2022 Stats
Snaps: 950 (70%)
Pass Attempts: 464
Completions: 309
Completion Accuracy: 67%
Yards: 3,371
Touchdowns: 28
Interceptions: 17
First Downs: 173
Sacks: 22
Passer Rating: 92.7
Penalties: 5

Rayne Dakota Prescott joined the Mississippi State Bulldogs in 2011 and redshirted his first year. The second season he was upgraded to be the backup quarterback to Tyler Russell. He had 18 completions on the limited plays he was in. He still threw for 194 yards and had four touchdowns, as well as rush for a further four touchdowns.

In 2013, Dak was named the backup again but soon found himself taking the starter role from Russell after he went out for a severe concussion. Once Dak took over the role he never gave up the starter position. He played in 11 games for the Bulldogs, completing 156 of 267 passes for 1,940 yards with ten touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 829 yards with 13 touchdowns. He was named MVP of the Liberty Bowl after helping drop 44 points against Rice. He was also named to the 2013 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll.

In 2014, Prescott began the season as the team’s starting quarterback for the first time. The team ended the season with a 10-2 record and Dak broke a number of school records along the way. Some of those records included total passing yards (3,449), passing touchdowns (27) and total touchdowns (44). He was also named SEC Offensive Player of the Week three times, National Offensive Player of Week and given honors being named First-team All-SEC. He also finished eighth that year in the Heisman voting.

In 2015, Dak made history again by becoming only the fourth player in FBS history to pass for 60 touchdowns and rush for 40 touchdowns in a career. His 2,411 rushing yards places him third in all-time rushing yards by a quarterback in SEC history, and he ranks fourth in SEC history with 107 total touchdowns. His streak of 288 consecutive pass attempts without an interception is the longest in school history and third-longest in SEC history. In Dak’s final season for the Bulldogs he passed for 3,793 yards, had 29 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns, along with 588 rush yards and only five interceptions.

Cowboys Review:
When Tony Romo was lost for the season and Kellen Moore had broken his leg in 2016, major concern set in. The team was having a battle for third-string quarterback between Dak Prescott and Jameill Showers. Dak won the job and very quickly found himself the starting quarterback due to the series of unfortunate events. Dak lost his first game to the New York Giants but looked impressive in his efforts. A week later, the Cowboys faced Washington and beat them with Dak throwing nearly 300 yards on the day. Prescott’s rookie year had him start all 16 games and he finished with 3,667 passing yards, 282 rushing yards, 29 total touchdowns, and only four interceptions. His four interceptions were the second fewest next to Tom Brady among starting quarterbacks that year. His passer rating of 104.2 was third-best that year and his completion percentage of 67.8% was fourth-best. He was awarded Offensive Rookie of The Year for such an explosive start to his career and helped the Cowboys reach a 13-3 record. Even though Dak threw three touchdowns and 302 yards during the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Cowboys lost to Green Bay ending Dak’s stellar rookie season.

The next year the Cowboys went 9-7 with Dak starting all 16 games, but the team missed the playoffs. The offense in general was faced with general struggles, with Dez Bryant taking most of the blame and would be released at the end of the year. Dak finished the season with 308 completions for 3,324 yards and 22 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. He also rushed for a career-high for 357 yards and six touchdowns.

In 2018, Dak helped get the Cowboys to a 10-6 record and back into the playoffs. Dak got to his second Pro Bowl after throwing for 3,885 yards, 22 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a completion rate of 67%. The Cowboys experiment of “wide receiver by committee” failed after the offense struggled to get consistent and resulted in a trade for Amari Cooper. After beating the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round the Cowboys lost to the L.A. Rams with Dak throwing for 266 yards and scoring two touchdowns.

The next season for Dak would be one of his finest. He started the year beating the Giants by throwing for 405 yards and four touchdowns. That was a perfect passer rating and he earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week. The Cowboys defense that year struggled which led to the team finishing 8-8 and would be Jason Garrett’s final year as head coach. Prescott finished the year throwing for 4,902 passing yards, which was second-most in the league, 30 touchdowns which was fourth-most, and 11 interceptions. He also ran for 277 yards and three rushing touchdowns.

Dak started the 2020 season on the franchise tag after not being able to reach a contract agreement. The season was going strong for Dak with analysts talking about him being in the MVP race. He became the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 400 yards and rush for three touchdowns in the same game and he became the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 450 yards in three consecutive games. One of those games being the infamous “watermelon kick” victory versus Atlanta Falcons. Off to an electric start, Dak’s season came to abrupt end when he was tackled in Week 5 against the Giants and snapped his ankle. He would be out for the season and it would be an emotional end for Dak.

In 2021, Dak signed a four-year contract extension with the Cowboys for $160 million. Clearly affected by the previous year’s injury and the shoulder strain he picked up during training camp, he looked apprehensive and second-guessed himself in certain situations. This was very apparent when given the chance to escape the pocket and scramble for extra yards. The Cowboys would go 11-5 and be crowned NFC East champion. Dak looked more confident and comfortable as the season went on earning a number of NFC Offensive Player of The Week awards, most notably in the final week where he threw for 295 yards and five touchdowns in a 51–26 win over the Eagles. The Cowboys would lose in the playoffs to the San Francisco 49ers with Dak trying to get the first-down on a scramble play with 14 seconds left in the game. The play ended the game.

Last year Dak was lost for the first portion of the season after breaking his thumb in the Week 1 clash against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He would get his redemption against the Buccaneers in the playoffs when he played what most could argue was his greatest game. Prescott completed 25 passes for 305 yards, four passing touchdowns, and rushed for a touchdown as the Cowboys mauled the Buccaneers 31-14. This would be Tom Brady’s final game. As for the regular season, Prescott played in 12 games. He finished the season with 2,860 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. He won NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year during the annual NFL Awards ceremony.

2023 Roster Projections:
Dak is the Cowboys starting quarterback, and with the news that the front office is looking toward his next contract already tells you what they think of their leading signal-caller.

Some fans feel he shouldn’t get the next contract and believe his playoff record is an issue within itself. But either way, whether people feel he’s a top-ten quarterback or not, he’s staying in the Cowboys backfield as long as he’s healthy. What’s undeniable is his willing to lead, his toughness, and what’s most noticeable is his command of the offense.

Last year’s interception rate is a discussion that places fans in one of two camps. Some feel the numbers were too high on a reduced number of games. Others point to the obvious tipped passes and bobbled receptions as being the key to the high turnover rate. What needs to be seen is how Dak bounces back from this high number and help steer the ship back in the right direction. This is something we know he can do since his career interception rate is one of the lowest in the league.

He’s now without Ezekiel Elliott for the first time in his career, but he is with one of the finest wide receivers corps he’s had to operate with since coming to Dallas. The biggest question for Dak on the offense this year is how his offensive line will look. But Oxnard had plenty moments where Dak took off using his legs to get the first down, so maybe that’s something we see more of this year.

2023 Projected Stats:
Snaps: 1,115
Pass Attempts: 590
Completions: 395
Completion Accuracy: 67%
Yards: 3,120
Touchdowns: 31
Interceptions: 7
First Downs: 231

The Big Question:
What is your prediction about Dak Prescott’s interception numbers in 2023? Answer in the comments.

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