Dallas Cowboys: Does Dak Prescott deserve blame for the 8-8 record?

Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Certain critics are quick to hold Dak Prescott responsible for the Dallas Cowboys 8-8 record last season

At first glance, the Dallas Cowboys were the definition of average last season. This overly simplistic look of the 2019 season has been used to slander specific players and coaches for roughly seven months now. But is such a verdict fair? Are singular people the reason Dallas batted .500 on the season?

Whether they’re blaming the former head coach Jason Garrett, or the franchise quarterback, Dak Prescott, critics are eager to pull up the Dallas Cowboys 8-8 record from last season as an indictment against a singular person. And if you’re picking scapegoats, it makes sense the HC and QB1 are targeted.

The NFL starting QB is perhaps the most important player in professional sports. One bad call, one ill-timed decision, one lapse in judgement can lose a game and/or sink a franchise. It’s safe to say the QB is instrumental to success.

To use a win-loss record as some sort of metric for grading individual performance is a red flag that the person using it is either completely clueless  or being disingenuous

Yet, it’s fundamentally unfair, misguided, and lazy to pin a team record on a single player. As many reasonably minded folks know, things do not happen in a vacuum on the football field. Quarterback play can be perfectly planned and executed. But if his lineman misses a block, or the receiver messes up the timing of his route, or the pass-catcher drops the ball, outcomes can shift on a dime.

Not to mention, a QB can lead a would-be go-ahead drive, only to see his FG kicker miss. Was the miss his fault? Or he could doubt the ability of the FG kicker altogether and decide to take some extra gambles downfield.

Likewise, he could doubt the ability of the defense to make a stop and could go for broke every time – even if it increased his chances of turning the ball over (Tony Romo fell into this situation all too often).

At the end of the day, a lot of factors go into a win-loss record and only a deep dive into the games themselves will tell us who’s to blame and why.

The Dallas Cowboys had a historically bad special teams unit last season. Do you think that impacted the game? Think it changed the way Prescott managed the game?

The defense was tragically porous late in games and defied odds with their inability to get turnovers. Dallas went into every contest knowing they were going to lose the turnover differential (and that wasn’t because the offense turned the ball over too much). Think that impacted the Dallas Cowboys’ ability to win?

It’s well known the previous administration was skeptical of analytics. This explains why the Cowboys ran the ball so often on early downs and forced Dak Prescott into ugly 3rd down situations more often they should have. We just can’t ignore they forced Dak into more low percentage situations than they needed to and that manageable 3rd downs are more myth than fact.

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The Dallas Cowboys defied all odds by posting a point differential of over 100 yet failing to snag a winning record. Ill-timed mistakes and play-calling certainly carry a large chunk of the blame as do the terrible special teams play and bad defense.

Even injuries carry some of the blame. Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper were on fire early in the season, but both were saddled with injuries and both saw steep declines in their play that’s clearly directly related to said injuries. It’s not just about their decline in stats either, just watching the games it’s easy to see both could not do what they normal could do.

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Keep in mind, Dallas was in good position late in the season. Dak was a legit NFL MVP candidate and Amari was balling. But injuries to the aforementioned two led to a 2-4 record down the stretch. If only they stayed healthy and the Cowboys continued their current win pace we’d be singing a much different tune right now. The Cowboys would have entered the postseason 10-6 (which would have won the NFC East) and Jason Garrett would probably still be in Big D.

Speaking of the postseason, many of the same lazy critics cite Dak’s 1-2 record in the postseason as proof of his mediocrity, completely ignoring he was the top-rated postseason QB in 2016 and has outperformed every QB he’s faced head-to-head in the postseason (see also Total QBR).

It’s not as if Dak Prescott and Jason Garrett don’t hold blame (It’s my opinion the latter has been detrimental to this team dating back to the Tony Romo era). It’s not as if other individuals don’t hold blame either.

To use a win-loss record as some sort of metric for grading individual performance is absurd. It’s also a red flag that the person using it is either being disingenuous or completely clueless. As such, it’s worth linking them to this article to find out exactly which camp they fall into: the disingenuous or the clueless.

To call Dak an 8-8 quarterback isn’t wrong, it’s just a poor point to make. Did you know Drew Brees has six seasons in New Orleans that are 8-8 or worse? Does that mean Drew is suddenly a below average QB? Of course not. It just says things didn’t go well for the Saints teams those years.

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Wins aren’t a QB stat so why are people acting like it is? Because they want to push their own narrative. There’s a reason Dak’s critics conveniently ignore his career win-loss record and completely forget to mention he went 13-2 as a rookie. It doesn’t support their ridiculous argument.

  • Published on 07/30/2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 07/31/2020 at 11:18 AM