There is reason to believe Dallas Cowboys QB, Dak Prescott, will throw more interceptions in 2019, so here’s the “why” and the “why not” of the situation.
Dak Prescott has built a reputation for being a safe quarterback. Since being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2016, Dak has only thrown 25 total interceptions (8.3 per season), making him one of the safest passers in the league.
But there is reason to believe his luck will run out and he’s in store for a more turnover-prone season in 2019. Today we’ll look why more interceptions may be in his future (and why other factors may counteract it).
The Luck Behind The Stats
Let’s face it, luck plays a big part in sports. Which way the ball bounces is both a literal and figurative adage regarding fortune in the NFL. This is more than a physics issue regarding the many reactionary trajectories of an oblong shaped ball upon varying surfaces, it’s about dependent and independent variables and general regression to the mean.
Allow me to explain: QB1 drops back and scans the field. He sees WR1 break free from man coverage and separate across the middle. QB1 delivers the ball to WR1 only to see a LB drop back in zone, perfectly situated to make a play on the ball. LB drops the easy INT and fans everywhere completely forget QB1 threw an interception-worthy pass.
The thing is quarterbacks can’t control who catches and drops passes. All a QB can do is deliver the best possible pass and sit back an wait to see how those around him execute. That’s why the NFL started tracking WR “drops” decades ago and that’s why Football Outsiders started tracking “defender INT drops” since 2007. Says FO:
"On average, quarterbacks throw about 30 percent more adjusted interceptions than raw interceptions – a player with 13 adjusted picks would be expected to finish with 10 actual interceptions. We can use that ratio to estimate how many interceptions a quarterback ‘should’ have thrown based on his adjusted interceptions"
That’s why statistics alone are misleading. Just because the LB didn’t intercept the pass we talked about above, doesn’t mean the pass was any less egregious.
Regression to the Mean
What does this have to do with Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys? Well, Football Outsiders determined Dak threw six passes in 2018 that should have been intercepted but were not. So while he only threw eight INTs in 2018, he threw six more that should have been intercepted.
For fairness, they also factor in receiver error. On two occasions Dallas receivers tipped a catchable ball into the waiting hands of the opposition. Context tells us these INTs shouldn’t be held against our franchise QB so it’s subtracted from the interception total.
In the end, the number of interceptable passes Dak Prescott threw rose to 12. The six dropped INTs was more than league average, meaning Dak got luckier than most and is likely to regress to the mean in 2019 (meaning he’ll likely throw more INTs).
But There’s Good News!
The good news is even with an adjusted interception total of 12, Dak Prescott stacks up with the best of them in the NFL. And when we focus on the adjusted interception rate Dak Prescott finishes No. 8 in the NFL.
That means even if fortune frowns upon Dak in 2019 (which is basically a statistical flip of the coin), Dak is a top-10 passer in the ball safety category. What’s also working in Dak’s favor is his familiarity with his receiving corps in 2019, his progression as a still-developing passer, and the upgrade at offensive coordinator.
With a -1.2 interceptions above expectations we don’t know for sure Dak Prescott will throw more picks in 2019, but we know that’s often the case here and we know the luck portion of this game has a way of equaling out over time.
But even if Precsott’s luck runs out in 2019, he’s still a top-10 ball security passer and he has multiple items working towards his overall development. If anything, this is good news for the Dallas Cowboys because it proves Dak’s tremendous success so far isn’t just sustainable, but it’s even improvable.
- Published on 06/11/2019 at 12:01 PM
- Last updated at 06/11/2019 at 11:56 AM