Dallas Cowboys: How Dak Prescott’s accuracy IS fixable

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 30: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 30: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Breaking down the All-22 Film some things are clear – Dak Prescott must improve his accuracy if he’s to regain his form as franchise quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Luckily that’s possible as long as he does this…

Five weeks into the season the Dallas Cowboys stand at a disappointing 2-3. Held back primarily by their passing game which ranks 29th in the NFL, Cowboys Nation is collectively looking for answers.

Blame has been passed between the coaching staff, the receiving corps, the pass protection, and the quarterback, quite frequently. And while all of these entities share their own special part of the blame, not all of them are correctable at this point of the season.

But one vital piece is correctable: The quarterback.

No, I’m not saying replace Dak Prescott. That’s impossible at this point in the season. I’m saying Dak Prescott himself is correctable. Troy Aikman recently had some pretty blunt things to say about the Dallas Cowboys’ polarizing signal caller:

The crux of Aikman’s message is regarding accuracy. It being the single most important skill for an NFL QB to possess. Obviously other things go into it as well. Being accurate means very little if you can’t read a defense or go through progressions. It just makes you good at the game of “catch”.

But his point is received. Accuracy is paramount to success for a quarterback. Sadly for Dallas Cowboys fans, accuracy is what seems to be the primary issue plaguing their starting QB. That doesn’t mean we give up Dak Prescott. Heck no. It just means Dak needs to get more accurate.

I know what you’re thinking, “you can’t teach accuracy.”

That widely held belief is largely true. Accuracy is something that rarely improves once a QB makes it to the professional echelon of football. Yet, accuracy doesn’t just happen in a vacuum. Other factors determine the accuracy of the pass being delivered.

Dak Prescott suffers from a handful of issues that incidentally impact his ability to deliver an accurate pass:

  1. Mechanics
  2. Pocket Presence
  3. Anticipation

Proper mechanics make the world of difference in accuracy. Throwing the ball with perfect mechanics increases the odds of the ball actually going to the place it’s intended to go. While situations don’t always allow perfect mechanics, maintaining as many as possible is an important part in becoming a consistent QB.

As this season has worn on, Dak Prescott has clearly regressed in the mechanics department. Some of his deliveries are nothing short of cringe-worthily.  Sure, pressure plays a part, but Dak has all too often sensed pressure that doesn’t necessarily exist. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) has blamed Dak for more of his sacks than his offensive line. Let that sink in.

Which leads us to our second point: pocket presence. Dak is lacking in this department as well. In fact, it’s been an issue ever since he was victimized by Atlanta last season. I’m not saying Dak is Drew Henson-bad in pocket presence, but it’s clearly an issue for him and has a direct result on his mechanics and the accuracy of his passes.

Finally, we have anticipation. Sometimes you need to anticipate a receiver breaking open before he actually breaks open. Now, it’s helpful to develop some sort of chemistry with your pass-catchers before playing the anticipation game, but a long working relationship is hardly a prerequisite of such action.

Sanjay Lal has preached consistency with his route-runners since the moment he arrived. And while this committee of receivers have struggled in areas of their game, route running, indeed, has improved this season. When Dak reads a defense he has to know where and when his receiver will be making his break. We’ve seen many times on the All-22 film, Dak looking off his WR/TE right when that potential pass-catcher breaks on his route. He knows what’s going to happen and he know the coverage being employed, yet he opts for a target closer by who’s already already running open. As Joseph Randle would say, that “leaves a lot of meat on the bone.”

Dak Prescott needs to trust his reads and anticipate his receivers breaking open if he wants to make easier plays downfield. Waiting a fraction of a second too long and throwing the ball after the break results in a late delivery and more contested catches (late passes lead to less separation which lead to more contested catches).

Dak’s a smart guy who’s well studied. He’s reading the defense, it’s just, for whatever reason, he’s all-too-often reluctant to throw the ball downfield before the receiver breaks (to what’s about to be the open part of the defense).

The good news is all of these are correctable issues. Issues that are impacting Dak Prescott’s ability to accurately deliver a football. Stepping up in the pocket, delivering a pass with proper mechanics, and throwing the ball on-time and with anticipation will result in better thrown balls in uncontested situations.

When exhibiting good form inside the pocket, Dak Prescott is actually pretty dang accurate. We’ve seen him drop dimes this season deep down the field (only to be dropped, but that’s a whole different issue). He has proven he can deliver an accurate ball.

Next. Throwback Classroom: Understanding the coverage the Cowboys employ. dark

Pocket presence may take some time, but with more comfort and quicker decisions, he can employ better mechanics and play the game with more anticipation – thus becoming more accurate and putting his biggest criticism to bed.

  • Published on 10/11/2018 at 12:07 PM
  • Last updated at 10/11/2018 at 14:29 PM