Dallas Cowboys: How Dak Prescott compared to the other playoff QBs

It may surprise you to see how Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott, stacks up against other signal callers in the postseason

What if I told you Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was one of the very best quarterbacks in the NFL this postseason? In this divided Cowboys Nation it’s likely some would wholeheartedly agree and some would passionately scoff at such proclamation.

Whether it sounds right or not, the fact remains Dak Prescott was excellent this postseason and the numbers prove it. Using what is widely considered the best advanced stats available, Dak was the second best performer in this extremely talented postseason field of passers.

Throw bad stats out the window

I’ve been preaching this all season but it’s time to throw bad stats out the window. Passer rating, completion percentage, yardage totals, and even touchdown/interception totals are all counting stats devoid of any actual context.

Anyone can post a 70 percent completion percentage if they never throw past the sticks. Anyone can post low interception totals if they never take shots downfield. Anyone can accumulate yardage when the game is in “garbage time”.  These stats say very little about actual performance because they fail to apply context and grade all yards/touchdowns/interceptions equally.

That’s why we use EPA and QBR

As explained in the related story above, EPA (expected points added) and QBR (quarterback rating) both heavily rely on context to score performance. If a QB collects six-yards on 3rd and 7,but fails to convert, he’s penalized in EPA and QBR. If a QB collects seven yards and converts it (either on the ground or through the air), he’s rewarded heavily. Context.

If a QB amasses 60 passing yards in garbage time it means very little in EPA and QBR because it means very little in the actual context of the game. If a QB amasses 60 yards in a critical game situation he’s hugely rewarded because the context was huge.

It’s all about making the right plays at the right times. There’s no reward for empty numbers

How Dak Prescott stacks up

Dak Prescott was the Dallas Cowboys best EPA weapon this postseason by a fairly wide margin. When he did something with the ball (pass or run) good things happened. In fact, through the first two rounds, Dak was the best QB in the entire postseason in Total EPA, collecting 13.0 total expected points. This essentially means, Dak put his team into positive situations more than any other QB this postseason.

QBR is an extension of this thinking. Dak Prescott’s postseason Total QBR was 77.5 (0-100 scale with 50 being an average QB performance). Only Tom Brady scored better with a staggering 89.3. Jared Goff is ninth in a field of 12, indicating he had very little to do with the Los Angeles Rams win over Dallas in the Divisional Round.

The bottom six performers were none other than Patrick Mahomes (6th), Andrew Luck, Goff, Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, and Lamar Jackson (who finished dead last with a 11.4 QBR). How could that be when two of those passers won and will be battling it out today for a Super Bowl bid? It means their victories had more to do with the players around them than their individual performance.

For instance: A 40-yard touchdown pass may look good on paper, but if it was a two-yard screen pass that relied on blocking and broken tackles to go the distance, then very little credit is given to the man throwing the ball. What’s that word I’m looking for? Oh, yeah…context.

A good Dak is a terrible thing to waste

You may be asking, if Dak Prescott is go good, why did the Dallas Cowboys lose? The simple answer is he wasn’t used enough. For some reason the Dallas Cowboys insisted on handing the ball to Ezekiel Elliott even though he was producing more unsuccessful plays than successful plays. This probably played a part in offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s recent dismissal.

Dak Prescott may only be 1-2 in the postseason but the losing record is no fault of his own. Even in 2016 he had an impressive 73.5 QBR (fourth best in the postseason that year). Dak Prescott may only have three years of service under his belt and three playoff games to his name but he’s been a consistently great postseason performer.

There are those out there that have convinced themselves Dak will never be a premiere QB capable of taking his team to the Super Bowl, but the best advanced stats available to us say otherwise.

The best news of all is Dak Prescott is still noticeably improving. Not only has he proven to be great in the postseason but he looks like he can be even better. Whether or not that one day translates into a Super Bowl clearly has more to do with the play-caller than it does the quarterback.