Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott becoming an elite QB?

77.8% completions for 455 yards, three TDs and two INTs. That was Dak Prescott’s stat line in a Cowboys win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. The 29-23 win marks fifth straight win for the Dallas Cowboys. They now have a two game lead in the NFC East. This game also marked the third straight game and fourth out of the last five games in which Dak Prescott completed more than 70% of his passes. Is Dak Prescott becoming an elite QB?

Dak Prescott becoming an elite QB?
Dak Prescott” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Dak Prescott becoming an elite QB?

If you’re not a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, the first thing you’ll probably look at from Dak’s stat line against the Eagles, is his two INTs. You’ll try to argue that he can’t be elite if he’s giving the ball away multiple times in a game. Decent argument. I’ll counter that with examples from the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck.

Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes is the leader in the MVP race this season. All we hear about every week is how good Mahomes is and the amazing stat lines he puts up. Within those stat lines, is something we all ignore for him, but we make it a big deal when it comes to QBs like Prescott.

On the season, Mahomes has thrown a total of 11 INTs. He’s had three games this season in which he’s thrown multiple INTs. Dak Prescott also has three games this season with multiple INTs, but he has a total of seven on the season. That’s four less than Patrick Mahomes.

While Mahomes has thrown a league leading 43 TD passes, he’s also thrown some INTs during the most important times in games. One example of this was in their 54-51 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Mahomes threw three INTs in that game, two when the game was on the line. He had not one, but two chances to tie or give the Chiefs a win, but he blew both of them by giving the ball away.

My question is, if Patrick Mahomes is considered elite after throwing those INTs, why is Dak Prescott becoming an elite QB so hard to admit?

Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck’s 13 INTs on the season are currently tied for the second most in the NFL. Like Mahomes and Prescott, Luck has multiple games with multiple INTS. Four to be exact. Again, Prescott has three.

During a recent five game win streak for the Colts, Andrew Luck completed 75.5% of his passes for 1,320 yards, 16 TDs and three INTs. Over the course of those five games, Andrew Luck was all the rage because he was playing at an elite level.

Well, over the course of the Cowboys’ five game win streak, Dak Prescott has completed 75.1% of his passes for 1,471 yards, seven TDs and two INTs. Remember those 455 yards Prescott threw for against the Eagles? That is the most yards ever by a Cowboys QB in a win. Cowboys QBs have thrown for more yards, but never in a win.

Prescott has had better numbers in passing yards and INTs for the Cowboys on their five game win streak than Luck did on his five game win streak. Prescott’s completion percentage is only 0.4% lower than Luck’s was. Prescott’s passing TDs might be much lower, but he’s also added three rushing TDs during their win streak.

So if Luck is considered an elite QB with those numbers, why is Dak Prescott becoming an elite QB so hard to admit?

It’s all Amari Cooper, right?

Amari Cooper has been a stud for the Cowboys since joining the team. In his six games with Dallas, Cooper has caught 40 balls for 642 yards and six TDs. It would be easy to pin Prescott’s success solely on Amari Cooper and get away with it, but I won’t let you.

While Cooper has helped Dak Prescott, he’s not the only reason why Prescott has been playing well. Prescott has been given more opportunities to make plays for his team. He’s been making the most of those opportunities.

You might be wondering how he can be elite if he struggled so much at the beginning of the season. Well, it’s easy to struggle when you don’t have weapons. You might be thinking, “exactly, he struggled without weapons, so he’s not elite.” Well, that’s wrong.

What do you think of Aaron Rodgers? Most people would take Aaron Rodgers over any QB in the league, but this season he’s struggled. Rodgers has the second lowest completion percentage of his career (as a starter) this season (62.0%). He also has the worst TD pass percentage of his career (as a starter) this year.

Why has Aaron Rodgers struggled? He doesn’t have weapons. Between not having enough weapons and injuries to the weapons he does have, Rodgers hasn’t had the weapons he’s used to having. It’s amazing how a QB can look completely different without his weapons.

If Aaron Rodgers can still be considered elite with his numbers this season, why is Dak Prescott becoming an elite QB so hard to admit?

Dak Prescott becoming an elite QB
Dak Prescott” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Becoming

The key word in this article is ‘becoming.’ There’s a huge difference between the word becoming and the word ‘is.’ I say that because I don’t think Dak Prescott is an elite QB right now. However, I do think he’s heading in the right direction.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. There has been a few times over the past few weeks where Dak has missed a wide open receiver on a deep ball. Several of those misses could have been touchdowns to build a Cowboys lead. Instead, they turned into no points and more possessions for the other team.

To be an elite QB, Prescott must hit those deep balls every time. While Prescott has missed some deep throws, he’s also placed some perfect dimes in key moments.

Against the Eagles, Prescott shook off his earlier misses to find Amari Cooper for some long completions, a couple of which were TDs. Prescott didn’t think about what he did before, but rather what he needed to do when the game was on the line. He threw a pass to give the Cowboys a lead. Then he threw another pass to give the Cowboys another lead.

His ability to bounce back after missing earlier throws is why Prescott is ‘becoming’ an elite QB. We have to remember this is only Dak’s third NFL season.

Dak Prescott becoming an elite QB

Prescott is on a similar path to Russell Wilson, who many consider elite.

Wilson started out with a great running game. That meant he didn’t have to make that many plays. Over time, Wilson was given more and more responsibility as a passer, which has worked out pretty well for the Seahawks thus far.

As time goes on, Prescott will be given more and more responsibility to make plays for his team. He’s already been given more responsibility this season.

Dak Prescott becoming an elite QB is happening in front of our eyes. Give him the credit he deserves.

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