While it's never been a bad thing, having the best quarterback is a key ingredient to success in the modern NFL. The 2022 Dallas Cowboys are leaning on that advantage as they pursue the elusive goal of being repeat winners in the NFC East.
Terms like “passing league” and “QB-driven” have become rote over the last two decades. But that's because it generally proves true; the teams with the best passers generally win their divisions and have sustained playoff appearances.
When it comes to the Cowboys' Dak Prescott, where he stands in that “best passers” conversation is an evergreen hot topic. But whether you see him as NFL elite or a second-tier QB, or even if you have significant doubts about his credentials, Prescott goes into this season as the clear front-runner among his NFC East rivals.
Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts is still trying to establish himself as a consistent winner. The Eagles went 8-7 in Hurts' 15 games last season and the second-year QB had middling passing production at best. He came up short in the playoff loss to Tampa Bay, completing just 53% of his passes and throwing two interceptions.
Still, at least Hurts has shown glimpses of a future winner who's trending upward. That's more than the Commanders or Giants can say about their quarterbacks.
Carson Wentz, now trying to resurrect his career in Washington, is coming off an all-over-the-place year with the Colts. He started all 17 games, a nice feat given his injury history, but was among the NFL's worst in completion percentage and yardage per game. That said, Wentz did finish 10th in touchdowns and 13th in passer rating.
Daniel Jones is still trying to prove he's even a worthy NFL starter. New York's clearly dubious, declining to pick up his 5th-year option for 2023 and making their young QB play for his job in 2022. But as one of the league's least-efficient passers last season Jones will have to make a dramatic leap forward in his play to still be the Giants' starter next year.
So that's the competition. What about Dak Prescott?
In a year where the focus was staying healthy and coming back from his devastating 2020 leg injury, Prescott immediately reasserted himself as one of the NFL's most productive and efficient quarterbacks.
- 4th in completion percentage
- 5th in touchdowns
- 7th in yards-per-game
- 3rd in passer rating
While transitions on the offensive line and at wide receiver leave some questions about Dallas' offense in 2022, the ability of its QB to produce and win shouldn't be among them. Prescott has led the Cowboys to winning records in all but one of his five full seasons, finishing 8-8 in 2019.
Coincidentally, Dallas has also won the NFC East three times in those same five years.
We know all too well that predicting based on averages and generalized concepts is dangerous. The ripple effect of an injury at left tackle, wide receiver, or some other spot can leave an offense and its quarterback in a much worse place than you'd have imagined.
But based on the evidence we have and the current trajectories of the four starting quarterbacks involved, Dak Prescott enters 2022 in a much more trustworthy place than Jalen Hurts, Carson Wentz, and Daniel Jones. That is a clear and invaluable advantage working in the Dallas Cowboys' favor this season.