‘Too Many’: Cowboys HC McCarthy to Restrict Dak Prescott’s Passing?

Dak Prescott

Getty Dak Prescott

At his current pace, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will shatter the NFL record for pass attempts in a single season. Which might happen if not for that meddling Mike McCarthy.

The Cowboys head coach hinted Thursday that Prescott could be asked to throw less going forward — less than his 57 attempts in Week 3, anyway.

“Too many,” McCarthy said.

Ideally, McCarthy explained, Prescott would take to the air no more than 40 times per week, with the Cowboys running the ball roughly 30 times. Although, it is nearly impossible to stay completely on-script; the play-calling ratio is reflective of the “game situation you are in.”

Aided by arguably the sport’s top receiving core, Prescott leads the league in almost every major QB category, including yards (1,188), yards per game (396.0), completions (96), and completions per game (32). He’s averaging 47.7 attempts per game, a projected 763 for the 2020 campaign — dwarfing Matthew Stafford’s historic 2012 output (727 attempts).

By contrast, star running back Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 19.3 rushing attempts per game, or 58 totes for 219 yards and three touchdowns. Elliott was a nonfactor in last Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, tallying just 34 yards and a TD on 14 carries. He also dropped three passes from Prescott.

Who, by the way, set a career-high with the aforementioned 57 tries against Seattle. Dak has accounted for over 900 passing yards and seven touchdowns (three rushing) across the last two games. It’s evident he’s the offensive centerpiece, its lifeblood. How he goes, so does Dallas.

Which puts McCarthy and coordinator Kellen Moore in a catch-22. How do you limit your best player to get another involved? How do you risk taking yards off the stat sheet or points off the scoreboard simply to follow a pre-determined ratio?

By finding the middle ground.

“We want to play fast. We want to play with tempo, regardless if we’re up by a few touchdowns, the game is tied, or we’re down,” Prescott told reporters Thursday, via David Helman of the team’s official website. “It just gives us more opportunities on offense, more opportunities to create big plays and score more points. I’d say the tempo is definitely purposeful.”

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Week 4 Matchup

The Cowboys will welcome the 2-1 Cleveland Browns to AT&T Stadium in what some are forecasting as an easy victory for the home team. A victory certainly is achievable, if not expected, but it’ll require legitimate effort.

Cleveland is playing better defense than many realize. Through three games, Joe Woods’ unit ranks second in turnover percentage, fifth against the run and net yards per pass attempt, eighth in opposing scoring percentage, and ninth in total yards allowed.

The Browns, though, can be had — especially via the air. They’re 22nd against the pass, 24th in points allowed, and 29th and 30th in passing TDs and attempts surrendered, respectively. In other words, the perfect breeding ground for Prescott, potentially.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL