Quarterback, especially for the Dallas Cowboys, is the most scrutinized position in all of sports. Whoever takes responsibility for this role has to understand that everything they do or don’t do will be talked about. It seems to be unfair at times but it’s just the reality that we live in and it’s not going away.
Dak Prescott has lived under this microscope for the previous three seasons. After a stellar rookie year in 2016 that saw him win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, lead the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and an NFC East crown, you would think he would get praise for this. However, most said the only reason for his success was the fact that he had All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and an impressive offensive line. Even though he set an NFL rookie record for completion percentage (67.8) and threw 23 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions, a td-int ratio of almost 6 to 1, it wasn’t enough for the casual observer.
In 2017, the Cowboys franchise signal-caller dealt with not having Ezekiel Elliott for six games during a suspension for domestic violence allegations. Predictably, the team struggled without it’s best player going 3-3 over that stretch. What doesn’t get talked about enough, though, is how Prescott kept them afloat and alive for playoff contention. After losing the first three games in Elliott’s absence, the Cowboys put together three consecutive victories due in large part to the poise of Prescott. The passing numbers won’t impress you (646) but he threw 5 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. Putting the Cowboys at 8-6 before Elliott’s return and in control of their own destiny for the playoffs, that they eventually fell one game short of.
In 2018, the Cowboys struggled in the first half of the season with a 3-4 start. In an attempt to provide Prescott with a reliable number one option at receiver, the organization acquired Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders for a 2019 first-round pick. The move saw immediate results as the Cowboys won seven of it’s final nine games to finish 10-6 and win the NFC East. Prescott saw his completion percentage rise from 62.1% without Cooper to 71.2% with him. Also, Elliott won his second rushing title in three years. Once again critics were sticking to their guns that everything had to be ideal for Prescott to succeed.
I find that particular logic somewhat funny considering he never gained any rhythm with former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant in his rookie year and lead the team to 13 wins. And as I mentioned earlier, without Elliott for six games a year later he had the Cowboys firmly in playoff contention with two weeks left in the season. But as always, it wasn’t enough for the naysayers.
Currently, the Cowboys and Prescott are negotiating a long-term contract extension. Simultaneously, the doubters are taking every opportunity to discredit what Prescott has done his first three years. The criticism escalated even more when he turned down a contract offer from the Cowboys that would pay him an AAS (average annual salary) of 30 million per year. Why is this? If you search the internet or social media, many believe that was more than a generous offer for Prescott. Surprisingly, there’s even people out there that don’t even believe he’s worth 20 million.
On Monday, Jane Slater of NFL Network reported that Prescott and his representation requested a deal that would pay an average annual salary of 40 million per year, and the world went crazy. Suggesting how dare a quarterback with such a limited skill set demand that much. Let’s break this down a little bit, though.
Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz signed a four-year 128 million dollar extension with over 107 million in guaranteed money in June. That’s an average of 32 million per year. When you compare his resume to Prescott’s he comes out on the short end of the stick. Prescott has 9 more wins total, is 4-2 head to head against the Eagles, a higher QBR, a higher completion percentage, a higher quarterback rating and he’s thrown fewer interceptions. He’s never missed a start in his career while Wentz has missed eight. Given this information, why would he take one penny less than Wentz? If you outperformed someone at the same position at your job would you take less than them? I didn’t think so.
Prescott has won more games than any quarterback not named Tom Brady since 2016. He set an NFL record for completion percentage in a quarterback’s first years (66.1). He has the fewest interceptions ever for a quarterback’s first 48 starts. He has more game-winning drives, rushing touchdowns, and primetime wins than any quarterback since 2016. Sprinkle in two NFC East titles to top it all off and it still hasn’t stopped the disbelief in his ability.
I say all that to say this, Prescott just simply has to keep doing what he’s doing. Focus on getting better every day and putting the Cowboys in position to win division titles and make the playoffs like he’s done for three years. People have already made up their mind about Dak, so no matter what he does going forward those feelings won’t change. As long as he has Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and a great offensive line they’ll always be seen as the only reason Prescott has success. You’d be hard-pressed to find any quarterback that didn’t have help around him because that’s never been the case, but that’s a story for another day. If Prescott keeps the same poise when it comes to his critics as he does when games are on the line he’ll be just fine, and the critics should come around, but I doubt it. I mean he plays quarterback for the Cowboys, when does the criticism ever stop?