Turnovers are monumental in the NFL. And turnovers in your own territory are even more so. The Dallas Cowboys have been the wrong end of this ugly situation far too often this season and lately it’s been Dak Prescott delivering the turnover.
For the second consecutive week, Dak Prescott has thrown interceptions deep in his own territory and it was a second INT of the day, in the form of a Pick-6, which ultimately ended the game in overtime.
Does Dak Prescott have an interception problem and if so, can the Dallas Cowboys do anything to stop it?
To answer the first question, the answer is yes, but with qualifications. First, obviously interceptions in your own territory are a problem. They led to 21 points against Dallas in just the last two games. While interceptions are always bad, they are somewhat unavoidable if you have a properly aggressive passing offense.
With that said, play-callers seek to avoid interceptions inside the 20 on both ends of the field. The stakes are high in these areas and gambles are better taken between the 20s, not inside the 20s.
Does that mean Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore are the problem?
It would be one thing if the Dallas Cowboys were pressing on needlessly slow developing plays downfield or if Dak was being abnormally reckless, but neither is really the case. Both last week and this week we saw the interception directly related to the pressure.
It’s fair to say: No pressure=no interceptions
The Dallas Cowboys offensive line is regarded as one of the worst performing pass protection units in the NFL. By pass pro win rate, they’ve been dead last almost the entire season. So it’s more accurate to say the offensive line has an interception problem than it is to say Dak or Kellen is the problem.
I suppose Dak could anticipate this harsh reality and give up on plays a bit faster (throwaways). And Kellen could adjust as well by not calling so many early down runs that inevitably result in obvious passing situations. But the root issue is the Cowboys’ pass protection.
It seems counterintuitive to walk away from this INT problem saying “the Cowboys have to pass more” but that’s exactly reality of the situation. Early down passes are more successful (both in output and success) than early down runs. It’s the best way to avoid obvious passing situations and the best way to get the ball out quickly.
In Jacksonville, Dak Prescott delivered two disastrous interceptions that directly led to a loss. But ignoring the details is dangerous business. The first was under heavy pressure and the second was 100 percent the fault of his receiver, Noah Brown, who basically dropped a perfect pass.
Fans tend to leave with a lot of takeaways after a Dallas Cowboys loss but there are far too many poor takeaways and not enough diagnosis and treatment. Each one is different so the treatment for each varies, but at no point should we say Dak is the most to blame because the O-line, run-heavy approach, and dropped passes all carry more.
The Dallas Cowboys have an interception problem but it’s not because Dak Prescott is reckless, it’s because the Cowboys are allowing pressure in obvious passing situations.