There’s a belief among NFL observers that Dak Prescott isn’t an accurate quarterback. Perhaps it’s the microscope in which the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys lives or maybe it’s that fans and analysts don’t watch every single quarterback, every single week.
The reality of an NFL quarterback is that sometimes they miss throws. Just like every other position, mistakes happen; however, the statistics are pretty clear that Dak Prescott is one of the more accurate quarterbacks in the NFL.
Over at Pro Football Reference, they’ve done the heavy lifting by charting every quarterback’s throws and determining whether the throw was “on target” or a “bad throw.” For reference, in 2019, Drew Brees led the NFL in both categories. He recorded an on-target percentage of 84.1% and a bad throw percentage of just 10.7%.
Bad throw and on-target percentage don’t include throwaways or spikes.
Coming in last among qualified quarterbacks in on-target percentage was Jameis Winston. Thirty interceptions and poor vision will do that for you. The player with the worst bad throw percentage was Aaron Rodgers at 21.7%. Now, I know what you’re thinking, Aaron Rodgers is one of the best in the NFL, and that’s accurate, but there are times where his gunslinging mentality comes back to bite him. He had the third-highest bad throw percentage in 2018 as well.
Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback. We know this. However, it’s important to note that Prescott has been more accurate. Those are the facts.
Dak Prescott was seventh in the NFL in on-target percentage at 77.6% and sixth in the NFL in bad throw percentage, all the while finishing fifth in intended air yards. His 9.3 intended air yards per attempt was behind only Matthew Stafford, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, and Russell Wilson. Stafford, Winston, and Wilson were in the bottom ten of bad throw percentage while only Ryan Tannehill had a better bad throw percentage than Prescott.
By on-target percentage, Winston and Stafford were again in the bottom five.
Despite an increase of nearly two intended air yards per attempt, Dak Prescott’s bad throw percentage improved from 17.3% in 2018 to 14.8% in 2019. Pro Football Reference didn’t track on-target throws in 2018, so, unfortunately, that information is unavailable.
No quarterback had more passes dropped in 2019 than Dak Prescott’s 36. He finished second in the NFL in percentage of pass attempts dropped behind Josh Allen. Imagine what happens if even half of those passes are caught. What kind of difference could that make to the outcome of the game?
Dak Prescott has shown improvement each year he’s been in the NFL. Last year, he proved to be one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. While there were struggles, and Prescott carries some of the blame for those in 2019, a lot of the issues could be attributed to cognitive dissonance in philosophies between the conservative Jason Garrett and the more aggressive Kellen Moore.
With a more aggressive head coach in Mike McCarthy, who is considered one of the best quarterback coaches in the NFL, leading the way, there will be a more unified approach to the offensive philosophy. Though McCarthy will be involved in the game-planning, it will be Kellen Moore’s offense and vocabulary that will be installed for Dak Prescott. An offense that looked tremendous at times in 2019 and, at other times, struggled.
If you were to go through the NFL and watch 600 pass attempts of even those considered elite at the position, you’ll find that those quarterbacks have throws they wish they could do again. The reality is the quarterback position is arguably the most challenging position to play in all of sports. Quarterbacks have to process a ton of information before the snap and after the snap to get a pass off in under three seconds to avoid getting sacked by one of the 250-300 pound men trying to crush him.
Dak Prescott is one of the more accurate quarterbacks in the NFL and will continue to improve in that area. Entering year five, Prescott is entering the prime of his career, and he and the Dallas Cowboys will be in a position to contend for the NFC East yet again.