Dak to the Future?
I still stand by my original assessment, Dak Prescott can’t make the throws other more lauded QBs can on a consistent basis. What has changed however is my perception of him and his importance.
The truth is Dak doesn’t need to make throws like the gunners in this league on a regular basis. The more I watch the more I realize how well he does not to air the ball out when not needed.
I felt like putting my foot through the screen today when Shannon Sharpe compared Dak to Blake Bortles and Alex Smith by highlighting two stats that mean little to nothing to me.
First of all: “when Zeke rushes for less than 75 yards in a game, Dak Prescott is 0-7”. My reply? So what? There are so many mitigating factors that could be at play there, including Zeke not having a great game. Show me a QB that gets better when his number one RB isn’t having a good game, it doesn’t happen (unless you have a Patriot-esque stable of running backs which the Cowboys don’t). It might not be Zeke, it could be that the offensive line isn’t doing its job. This stat in isolation has little to no relevance to anything.
Next up: “17 of his 48 games, has been to 200 or fewer yards passing.” Again, so what? How many of those games did he win? That’s what I care about and if he didn’t win, who was responsible, just him? I doubt it. There are games when you either only need 200 yards because you’ve decimated a team on the ground or because your receivers aren’t open you simply have to take the hit. That’s football.
So that’s it? That’s what you’ve got for me as to why Dak is a “middle of the road” QB?
Let’s be honest, that’s “bull jive” as our man Shannon would say. Here’s a much more telling stat: Of QB’s with 50 or more games, only three players have a better winning percentage than Dak Prescott (.647) Who? I hear you ask, well prepare to see the elite:
Tom Brady .772
Ben Rothelisberger .670
Russell Wilson .668
Here endeth the list.
That’s right, 3 Super Bowl winners who will all go to the Hall of Fame. Not bad company to be in.
Oh but Dak has Zeke. He sure does, Brady has Belichick, Ben has had Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Santonio Holmes (Go Bucks) and Jerome Bettis, to name but a few plus a pretty decent D over the years as well as the best offensive line in football last year. Russell Wilson had the Legion of Boom.
None of this is ever mentioned when talking about Dak. Of all of those QB’s listed above, it’s Wilson who is the least valued and yet he’s easily had to overcome and continues to have to overcome the most right up until Wilson’s O-Line turned into a turnstile and he lost his LOB. Since then? Dak beat him in the playoffs. Teams win games, not just QB’s.
Another interesting fact about all four? None came from big schools (I can’t consider Michigan a big school in football other than in reputation as I know they’ve achieved nothing of note in my lifetime and most people’s lifetime), none were a first pick in the draft with only Ben going in the first round. None were considered the finished product.
So I started thinking about the four of them and they all lack something. Wilson isn’t a great pocket passer, Brady isn’t as effective outside of the pocket and is hardly what you’d call a great athlete and Ben the same. Dak is a combination of the most important parts of both of them but he lacks the thing that people covert most when watching a QB. He lacks elite anything. He doesn’t have Brady’s IQ (who does) he doesn’t have Ben’s arm strength and he doesn’t have Wilson’s athleticism. He’s like a composite of all of them without being as good as any of them but what he does have is the most important intangibles that they all share. A never say die attitude, leadership, game management, an ability to raise his level when it matters most to win football games.
Finally something else stood out to me when I started watching games by year. in 2016, the Cowboys had the best O-line in football when it was healthy and still the second best when it wasn’t when Smith went down.
And last year the Cowboys O-Line ranked far lower, especially in pass blocking where they were ranked 22nd overall by Pro Football Focus, the same PFF that tells us how bad a QB that Dak is. Wentz for comparison by example had the 8th best rated. Again, not spoken about.
What does this tell me? Well at first nothing, so I went back to the tape and here were the games where the biggest plays were made:
Lions x 2 (H) – protection meant no one got near Dak – good 3
Redskins (H) – ” ” – bad 3
Eagles (H) – ” ” – Touchdown
Bucs – ” ” – 32 yard gain on a 3rd 12 (1st and goal)
Giants (H) – ” ” – TD
Redskins (A) – ” ” – TD
Saints (H) – ” ” – 40 yard gain on a 2nd 8 (1st and goal)
Seahawks (H) – ” ” 16 yard run on 3rd 14
Texans (A) – Protection completely broken by JJ (that’ll happen) out runs Brandon Dunn and then throwing into coverage manages to find Tavon Austin on a 55 yard throw with Zach Cunningham in his face. Importantly the only person who could catch that ball was TA.
Giants (A) – 4th and 15 on the 32 The massively underrated Olivier Vernon (Browns killed it there) just destroys Cameron Fleming off the line and is on top of Dak in barely over a second and Dak spins him and manages to deliver where only Beasley has any chance and Beasley makes a superb catch to win the game.
These last two plays are elite level plays. Dak shows poise, athleticism, vision and makes the toughest play in the biggest games in league play.
When you factor in his number of wins, his ability to overcome a weaker o-line and still win and then to add in the fact he has managed to do all this taking over from a legend in Romo, to unite a locker room and at the team that has the most pressure in the NFL…
There is no argument I can create given the current market to say he is not worth it. My only concern now is I don’t want to end up hamstrung by the cap so I hope something can be worked out.
That said though, there is absolutely no doubt that he has earned and in the current market is worth at least as much as Wentz, if not more. Wentz might be easier on the eye, but this isn’t gymnastics, this isn’t diving, it’s football. You don’t get points for style, you get wins or you get loses.
So if Wentz is worth $128 million over four years, then so is Dak because what he is, is worth more now to the Dallas Cowboys than what Wentz might be to the Philadelphia Eagles.