This is why the Dallas Cowboys are committed to Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Despite ranking as one of the worst passing attacks in the league, the Dallas Cowboys remain optimistic about their third year quarterback, Dak Prescott. Here’s why…

Dak Prescott has been under fire since the day he took Tony Romo’s job. Even after he posted arguably the best first-24 games of any QB in NFL history, his detractors…well…detracted.

Things only got worse from there. After that fateful day in Atlanta last year, the Cowboys stopped winning and Dak started crumbling. Blame the offensive line. Blame Prescott. Blame the coaching staff. Blame the pass-catchers. Go ahead and blame them all because they all deserve it.

But things are improving. That’s why despite being the 27th ranked offense (and the 28th ranked passing offense), the front office believes in Prescott.

Announcing his imminent extension sounded absurd at first, but fresh on heels of a season-saving win in Philly, we have cause for optimism. And when we take a step back to look at the big picture, this front office is wise to double-down on their QB1.

That’s because Dak Prescott is worth keeping. He has a special skill set of both tangibles and intangibles that make him worth investing in. In his last six games, he’s been one of the better QBs in the league from a passing efficiency perspective.

You can’t teach clutch

Not only is Prescott statistically improving, as illustrated in Marcus’ tweet above, but Dak Prescott is also a gamer. When the lights come on and the pressure amps up, Dak is at his absolute best. He flourishes when normal people wilt. It’s this intangible that makes him so special.

You can be the most talented quarterback to ever play the game, but if you can’t deal with the pressure, that talent is almost pointless. Dak may not be the most accurate or fundamentally sound quarterback in the league, but things have a way of slowing down for him when the pressure rises. And in a game where the final possession means everything, that’s a pretty great quality to have.

As shown above, when given an opportunity to take this team on a game-winning drive, Dak succeeds more than he fails. Not too shabby given the revolving door of pass-catchers and pass-protectors he’s been dealing with.

He’s progressing

What seems to be lost on many is the fact Dak Prescott is progressing – not regressing. His QBR and passer rating may not show it every week but Dak Prescott is learning and applying new things by the day. Something I addressed last month was his accuracy:

They say you can’t teach accuracy. But the thing is you can teach mechanics. Together with improved pocket presence and better anticipation the accuracy will inevitably improve. Dak still has a long ways to go and backslides at some point every game, but he’s learning and improving so there’s no reason to think that won’t continue.

Player Comparison

What people seem to forget is Dak Prescott is only 25-years-old and just in his third year. To think this fourth round pick should be performing remotely close to the top passers in this league is unfair and misguided. That doesn’t mean he warrants only fourth round expectations either.

We need to be critical but fair in our evaluation. To do that I compared Dak to a few players with some similar skill sets. Looking at Dak’s third year stats next to their third year stats gives us a better idea of how he’s performing at this stage in his career.

To me, the most comparable player to Dak is Washington’s Alex Smith. Some may scoff at this since Smith isn’t held in a very high regard around most fan circles. But the truth is they are fairly similar players with fairly similar skill sets. The Dallas Cowboys could be so lucky Dak becomes the signal caller Smith is.

Additionally, I ran a comparison for Russell Wilson and Cam Newton. All three of these players have rushing ability and have had their share of accuracy problems here or there.

Since it wouldn’t be fair to compare Dak to these players as they are now, I pulled the numbers from their third season (fifth season for Smith since he didn’t play for most of his third and all of his fourth). What did we find? All three are extremely similar statistically.

Per Game Table
1Cam Newton2013201318.329.6211.
2Dak Prescott2018201819.430.3214.
3Alex Smith2010201018.531.1215.
4Russell Wilson2014201417.828.3217.

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/15/2018.

Dak threw more passes per game than Wilson and Newton (and just 1 less per game than Smith) and he rushed the ball less often than Newton and Wilson. Dak is passing for 214.4 per game this season while Newton passed for 211.2, Smith for 215.5, and Wilson for 217.2. Those are all very like numbers.

Dak also had the highest completion percentage and the second highest quarterback rating.

The biggest difference was in the sack department. Dak is getting sacked an average of 3.6 times per game while Newton (2.7), Wilson (2.6), and Smith (2.3) didn’t remotely approach that number. While Dak’s pocket presence is partially to blame, the amount of pressure he’s facing because of poor pass-protection is greater than that of his peers. It’s also worth noting his willingness to step up into the pocket is getting better each week. Something I was worried would never happen.

Long ways to go

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Dak Prescott, though. He still routinely misses open receivers, displays poor mechanics, plays with questionable anticipation, and shows problematic pocket presence on a nearly weekly basis.

This isn’t the clear-cut issue so many want to make it out to be. Dak is both the good AND the bad. It’s ok for us to accept that. Basically, he’s a young developing quarterback with rare enough skills and enough high-end potential that he’s worth committing to for the near future.

Next. Why Kris Richard should and shouldn't be the next HC. dark

Dak has shown us he can win when everything else is working perfectly around him but that doesn’t mean that’s all his future holds. Dak Prescott can be more than that tired narrative. He’s developing into something greater and that’s why the Dallas Cowboys are committed to him. Will he get there? Heck, I don’t know. But I’m cheering for him, and so should you. Because finding quarterbacks is hard and he’s the best chance this team has.

Besides, we can be fans of his AND be critical of him at the same time, can’t we?

  • Published on 11/16/2018 at 13:01 PM
  • Last updated at 11/16/2018 at 12:09 PM