After career lows as a runner in 2021, Dak Prescott is reportedly getting back to his old self this season. That's what Mike McCarthy told the media yesterday; the Cowboys quarterback's is going to be a more featured part of Dallas' offense in 2022.
From 2016 to 2018, Prescott averaged 63 attempts, 315 yards, and six touchdowns as a runner. Those numbers dipped a little in 2019; just 52 attempts, 277 yards, and three touchdowns despite playing in all 16 games.
Things were starting to pick up again in 2020. Prescott went down during the Cowboys' Week 5 game but already had 18 attempts for 93 yards and three touchdowns before his injury. Those numbers projected over a full 16 games would've been closer to his career averages, and he might's set a new high in touchdowns.
Unsurprisingly, Dak's usage as a runner took a hit last year as he worked his way back from the major leg injury. He had all career-lows in rushing stats despite playing in 16 games; 48 attempts for just 146 yards and only one touchdown.
The attempts were not nearly as depressed as the yards and scoring, meaning the issue was more about effectiveness than anything. Anyone who watched the games could see that Prescott was a full step slower than past years, not running with the same aggression or perhaps even pre-injury speed.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said he hopes QB Dak Prescott will have more designed runs/scrambles/movement throws in 2022, now that he’s a full season removed from ankle injury. “We tried to be smart when we used him” last year. Has impressed in the spring. pic.twitter.com/VBu9Appj67
McCarthy's statement is not just about Dak's running stats. His ability to extend plays while throwing on the run will give receivers more time to work the field and give Prescott more time to find coverage breakdowns.
What's more, if Dak can burn defenses more as a ball carrier, that will give linebackers and safeties something else to think about in coverage. The ripple effect of a running threat at QB was lost last year and it showed in some of Dallas' efficiency and situational effectiveness.
The best news in this announcement is that it means the team is confident in where Prescott is at this point with his health. Injuries as severe as the one Dak suffered in 2020 don't always allow the player to come back at full strength the next season, if they even come back at all.
Hopefully Dak Prescott next season will be the best of both worlds; his previous athleticism coupled with even more veteran experience and wisdom. If so, 2022 could very well be Prescott's best year yet as the Cowboys' quarterback.