Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy Critiques Dak Prescott’s Week 1 Performance

Dak Prescott

Getty Dak Prescott

In praising Dak Prescott’s opening-day effort, Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy mentioned everything but his quarterback’s actual stats.

“I thought he was in great command. The communication, the adjustments,” McCarthy told reporters Wednesday, via The Athletic. “He kept us in clean plays throughout the game. I thought his awareness in the pocket was really good. … I thought he had a good game. I was pleased with his performance.”

Prescott was the definition of “solid yet unspectacular” amid the team’s Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. He completed 64% of his passes for 266 yards (6.8 yards per completion), one touchdown, and no interceptions — good for a 92.5 QB rating.

The numbers don’t tell the full story, however.

Although Dallas’ offense came out swinging, scoring twice in the first half, the unit went into a shell thereafter, netting just a field goal in the second half. Three-and-outs were a common occurrence throughout the evening as Los Angeles dominated the time of possession battle (35:38 to 24:22).

Prescott was a primary culprit. Per ESPN’s Ed Werder, his 14.3% completion rate on third down (1-of-7 for 11 yards) was the worst in any game of Prescott’s five-year career. Conversely, the Rams were 9-of-17 on third down en route to 422 total yards.

To be fair, Dak was at a disadvantage sans starting right tackle La’el Collins (IR, hip). Collins’ replacement, undrafted rookie Terence Steele, surrendered continual pressure and at least one of the Rams’ three sacks. Making matters worse, they were stuck with Steele after swing tackle Cam Erving suffered a knee injury. Lest we forget, too, about hyped tight end Blake Jarwin’s season-ending ACL injury.

Questionable play-calling — 4th-and-3 comes to mind — can’t be held against Prescott, either. There were flashes of brilliance followed by flashes of the last decade under Jason Garrett. This falls on the power-sharing duo of McCarthy and coordinator Kellen Moore, who are still ironing out the kinks.

But the bottom line is the bottom line. None of this excuses Prescott’s subpar line, nor was his performance deserving of the $40 million annually he’s supposedly seeking. He must play better if the Cowboys are to realize their playoff (and Super Bowl) aspirations. Period.

Fortunately, Prescott and the offense have a potential get-right game Sunday, the club’s home debut, facing an Atlanta Falcons squad that allowed 38 points in a Week 1 loss to the Seahawks.

In what may devolve into a shootout, 266 yards and a TD won’t cut it. McCarthy can laud Dak’s intangibles all he wants, but it’s his tangibles that need to show up at AT&T Stadium.

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Matty Ice Respect

Whenever someone discusses Prescott, such as McCarthy did, they tend to touch on his leadership ability, mindset, and mental attributes rather than his arm strength, accuracy, and scrambling ability.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan is no different. Ryan, who threw for 450 yards and two TDs last Sunday, was asked Wednesday what he respects most about his counterpart. His response was almost immediate.

“His toughness,” Ryan said, via The Athletic. “Week in and week out he’s asked to do a lot, whether it’s stand in the pocket and throw, he’s on the move quite a bit, running the football … He’s durable. He’s competitive. I have a lot of respect for him.”

READ NEXT: Cowboys Work Out Rookie QB Capable of Throwing Ball 100 Yards

Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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