What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Today’s Take: It’s time to stop drinking the Kool-Aid about Dak Prescott.
The Argument: In the most recent installment in this series, I doubled-down on my treatise that Jason Garrett is the worst coach in the NFL who has kept his job as long as he has. I’m on record saying it’s because he has no idea how to make an in-game adjustment. The Thanksgiving Day debacle against the Buffalo Bills showed a major reason why that is. Jason Garrett seems to have drunk the Kool-Aid being poured by the lame-stream sports media that Dak Prescott is a “franchise” NFL quarterback.
He’s not. It’s that simple.
That was on full display on Thanksgiving Day. It was so clearly on display that if you are still drinking the Kool-Aid on this guy, one may have to question your comprehension of the fundamentals of football. Seriously, the way ESPN carries the water for this guy, you would think he was a washed-up National Anthem protestor. Then again, you’ve got to carry some water if you’re going to make an ocean of Kool-Aid.
Let’s start at the beginning. This is what I said about Dak Prescott at the beginning of the 2017 season:
FACT: In 2016, Dak Prescott ranked last among all NFL quarterbacks who played in all 16 games, and 23rd overall in number of passes attempted, which was less than both Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler.
FACT: In 2016, Dak Prescott had a passing completion percentage of 67.8%. Prescott’s high completion percentage is largely because the Cowboys made it a point to at all costs avoid a lot of obvious passing situations like 3rd and long. If this were golf, Prescott’s been playing “best-ball” with a guy who’s leaving him a lot of three-foot putts.
FACT: In 2016. among the quarterbacks who played 16 games, the average number of passing attempts per game was just over 35. Dak Prescott’s record against teams with winning records when attempting more than 35 passes in the 2016 regular season: 1-2. After the play-offs and the first two games of this season, that number is 2-4.
The recent success of the Dallas Cowboys is all about controlling the ball, not making mistakes, and taking the “high-percentage shot.” Obviously, a team can win a lot of games with that formula. But in the end, seeing is believing, and before I believe Dak Prescott can beat a play-off team throwing the ball, I’m going to need to see it.
Twelve games into the 2019 season. what’s changed? Not much.
He still completes a bunch of low-risk passes at about a 67% rate. But as of this writing in 2019, he’s already set career highs for passing yards and attempts; he looks easily to top 500 attempts and 4,000 passing yards. That trend has accelerated in the last four Cowboys’ games, and it is worth noting that in a span where Prescott is being called on more to win games throwing the football, the Cowboys are 1-2 (excepting the rainstorm in New England; that game is a “throw-out” because the weather dictated more in that game than anything).
But before we make this another exercise in Jason Garrett’s play-calling, let’s focus on Prescott’s execution. Those two factors revolve around a common axis like the winding double-helix of a strand of DNA, but despite their common threads, they can be distinguished. Separating the two strands starts with understand the Thanksgiving Day debacle against Buffalo starts with understanding that game was a nearly perfect microcosm of the Cowboys’ season.
Not to be one of those “word play” assholes, but it all starts with the start.
In that Thanksgiving Day game, the Cowboys did something they haven’t done all season; they scored a touchdown on their opening possession. This season, the Cowboys did something they never did under Jason Garrett, they started a season 3-0. of the game.
In that Thanksgiving Day game, the Cowboys went 75 yards on eight plays in under five minutes for that opening score. The problem was the Buffalo Bills went on to score the next 23 points to take a lead they would never relinquish. In other words, that game reflected a season in which the Cowboys got off to a fast 3-0 start, then fumble-fucked their way to being a 3-6 team since then.
Just like they’ve done all along, the drinkers of the Kool-Aid defending Prescott will point to statistics. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s only two types of stat-quoters; the guy who didn’t watch the game and the guy who doesn’t know what he’s looking at. The Cowboys’ performance, and by extension that of Dak Prescott on Thanksgiving are a perfect example of that.
Thanksgiving Day marked the fifth loss this season in which the Cowboys have put up more total offense than their opponents. That’s crucial as passing yards just happen to be the main statistic the Kool-Aid crowd uses as the under-pinning of the “Prescott is a ‘franchise’ quarterback” argument. Prescott led the Cowboys’ offense to it’s ninth 400+ yard performance of 2019, out-pacing Buffalo by 70 yards. In other words, the stat-quoters are shoveling a load of manure which could fertilize the Sahara because you can crunch the numbers anyway you want; the bottom line is the Cowboys lost…again.
Here’s what “franchise” quarterbacks do. “Franchise” quarterbacks show up on the big stage. Dak Prescott doesn’t do that. “Franchise” quarterbacks find ways to put points on the board when their team needs them. Dak Prescott doesn’t do that. “Franchise” quarterbacks find ways to win football games when it matters. Dak Prescott doesn’t do that. Boil it all down to gravy and the numbers and the “eyeball test” tell the same story about Prescott. If you doubt that, just go to the most recent installment in this series about Jason Garrett and look at the breakdown of what happens to the Dallas Cowboys when Dak Prescott throws the ball more than 35 times.
To be fair, Dak Prescott doesn’t suck. Barring injury, I can see this guy this enjoying a decent career as an NFL quarterback; he’s a middle-of-the-pack guy in a league where far too many teams don’t even have that. But he’s also not a “franchise” quarterback; he’s not the guy you’re building your offense around. Don’t tell me the Cowboys didn’t know that from the jump; we must never forget when it was clear Tony Romo’s career was over, they panicked and signed the remnants of Mark Sanchez. Nobody who thinks they have a “franchise” quarterback does that.
Forget about statistics; here’s the bottom line on Prescott. He doesn’t have a big arm, and he isn’t accurate throwing the ball down-field. While he can escape a collapsing pocket and can pick up some cheap first-downs with his legs, until he improves his ability to put the ball on the hands of a receiver in stride on a deep pass (why else does Amari Cooper exist?), he’s simply never going to be the guy who can carry a team through a play-off run.
Change my mind.
You can see Part One of Change My Mind: Dak Prescott here.
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