Much of the criticism that Dak Prescott receives is centered around his perceived inability to conquer elite NFL competition. But a deeper dive into his play reveals a wholly different narrative.
According to a metric by Pro Football Focus, the Cowboys’ franchise signal-caller ranked as the fifth-best passer against playoff teams in 2019, finishing with a cumulative grade of 77.4.
Only Houston’s Deshaun Watson (84.5), Seattle’s Russell Wilson (81.0), Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill (80.8), and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (79.6) graded out better than Prescott, who turned in a career season despite Dallas posting an 8-8, non-playoff record.
The Cowboys met six clubs that qualified for the postseason: the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills, and Minnesota Vikings. They split with Philadelphia but lost to each of the aforementioned foes, often in disappointing fashion.
But Prescott was particularly masterful, from a statistical standpoint, in many of these defeats. He threw for a whopping 463 yards and two touchdowns against the Packers, 355 yards and two TDs against the Bills, and 397 yards and three scores against the Vikings, registering a 101.4 QB rating in the latter contest.
In the interest of fairness, Prescott was far from perfect last year — the Eagles (Week 16), Saints, and Patriots all held him out of the end zone — and the losses ultimately fell at his feet as the team’s leader. Some condemnation is warranted. Some. (The defense was mostly subpar and the coaching unquestionably lacking.)
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Evidence Mounts in Prescott’s Favor
His harshest detractors were hit over the head with numbers: Prescott ranked second in the league with 4,902 passing yards (one shy of tying the single-season team record) and 30 TDs. He added a personal-best 388 completions, 8.2 yards-per-average, and 68 completions of 20-plus yards. His 65.1-percent completion rate and 99.7 passer rating were the second-highest of his starting tenure.
Prescott’s WR2, Michael Gallup, topped the sport with five of his six touchdown receptions occurring when his QB was under pressure. Prescott himself tied for first among his counterparts with 10 scores under duress. In this same category, his 1,259 air yards and 79.5 percent passer rating ranked third and eighth, respectively.
These feats are especially impressive when taking into consideration that no NFL QB suffered more passing yards lost on dropped receptions — 392 — than Prescott, according to Pro Football Focus.
The popular analytics outlet also unveiled the fact that Dak is one of just two QBs since 2018 to throw at least 20 TDs outside the red zone. The other? Reigning Super Bowl MVP Mahomes.
So while it isn’t indefensible to say Prescott doesn’t warrant true “elite” status (however that’s quantified), it is indefensible to argue he’s anything worse than a top-eight player at his position.
The receipts are here, and they’re overwhelming.
Potential Date Leaked for New Dak Deal: Report
There are now 18 days left, as of this writing, for the Cowboys and Prescott to hammer out a long-term agreement. And it sounds as if the sides will drain the proverbial clock.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported Monday, after the former Pro Bowl quarterback officially signed his franchise tag, that he expects negotiations to “press up against [the] July 15 deadline.”
Why? Because, Fowler said, “there haven’t been any new developments on that front for a while,” as the length of the deal and its overall value remain the chief “sticking points.”
Reading the tea leaves, the holdup continues to be centered around Prescott’s insistence on a four-year commitment — giving him another bite at the apple when he turns 30 — while the Cowboys are holding firm for a five-year pact.
The Cowboys applied the exclusive tag to Prescott on March 16, keeping the then-unrestricted free agent off the market. It also made him the richest player in single-season club history, the NFL’s seventh-highest-paid player in terms of total cash, and the sport’s highest-paid in base salary, dwarfing 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo ($23.8 million), according to Spotrac.com.
The last reported offer from Dallas to Dak was worth more than $34 million annually and included guaranteed money “on par” with Los Angeles QB Jared Goff’s record-setting $110 million.
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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL