Y’all outta pocket!: Dak Prescott is not the ‘weakest link’ of the Dallas Cowboys

    has been the object of attack all week, and someone needs to set the record straight. Now, I don't normally write in first person, but when I do, it's usually because I've noticed a situation so egregious that I lose all patience required to formulate 3rd person objective sentences. This is one of those situations.

    Being home sick this week, I've had even more time than usual to pay attention to the viewpoints of talking heads on . I've also had more time to observe which of those viewpoints gets echoed throughout Cowboys . This week began, of course, with all sorts of speculation about who or what was to blame for the Cowboys' disappointing loss to the on Sunday. There were plenty of factors to be considered, but Stephen A. Smith took it upon himself to assert who should bare more blame than anyone else. On ESPN's First Take, he declared that Dak Prescott was the “weakest link” of the .

    This didn't sit right with me for several reasons, but what was even more frustrating was the volume of and members of the Cowboys-dedicated media who seemed to agree. Of course, I haven't conducted any actual qualitative or quantitative analysis to determine the actual volume of fans. This is just my observation based on activity. I digress.

    By the Numbers

    From my perspective, the bigger issue that led to the loss to the Packers was an issue that has been plaguing the Dallas Cowboys all season long – inability to stop the run. I decided to take a look at the numbers to verify whether or not my perspective was off.

    As of the writing of this piece, I have discovered a few things related to teams running the ball against the Cowboys:

    • The three teams that defeated the Cowboys this season ran the ball far more times against the Cowboys than they did on average against other teams this season.
    • The Packers recorded 39 rushing attempts against the Cowboys. Their average attempts per game with the Cowboys game removed from their data set is 24.3. The Eagles also ran the ball 39 times compared to 30.9 times against other teams. The Buccaneers ran the ball 33 times against the Cowboys but average 21.6 attempts per game against other teams.
    • The only team to run the ball over 30 times against the Cowboys and still lose was the .

    When it comes to Dak's performance since he returned from , it seems the is actually more productive now than it was without him. Removing the game from the Cowboys data set, I found the following:

    • Since Dak has returned, average points per game has increased from 21.4 to 34.7.
    • Average yards of offense per game has increased from 319.6 to 406.7.
    • Even average rushing yards per game his increased from 128.4 to 166.
    • Rushing attempts are almost the same. 29.8 attempts per game without Dak and 30.1 since his return.

    Fault vs Responsibility

    Now, I won't pretend to not understand why people are so upset with Dak. Almost everyone points to the two interceptions during the Packers game for which they believe he is at least partially responsible. Some pundits even argued that because he's the of the team, it's up to him to find a way to win regardless of what the defense does or doesn't do. In response, I argue the following:

    • If the Cowboys had somehow won the game against the Packers, no one would refer to Dak as the “weakest link.” They'd say he needs to clean up a few things in his game, and they'd probably still be obsessing about whether or not he'll ever be considered elite. However, there would not be such a need to rank who is at fault much less place him atop the list.
    • Before Dak's return, the general belief seemed to be that the team was doing well but needed to score more. Although Dak has been throwing the ball more than many people think he should, the offense is indeed scoring more. The defense, however, allowed the Packers to score more points against the Cowboys than any other team has so far this season. The Bears are second in points allowed against the Cowboys. It was a great offensive performance that won the game against Chicago.
    • Finally, there's a difference between fault and responsibility. Even if a person does believe that as quarterback, it's up to Dak to save the day, that doesn't mean that whatever led to the need for its saving is totally his fault. It doesn't make sense to call him the “weakest link” over things he cannot control, and it certainly doesn't make sense to do so essentially because of one loss.


    Does Dak have some things to work on? Absolutely. Does the Cowboys offense as a whole need improvement? Of course. Should the Cowboys run the ball more and throw it less? Probably, in some cases. Will teams continue to exploit the issues with the Cowboys ? That's pretty much guaranteed.

    I'm not saying that Dak Prescott is without fault. I'm not arguing that he is among the most elite quarterbacks. What I'm saying is that I believe the masses are overreacting to one loss and that there is insufficient evidence to say that Dak Prescott is the absolute worst part of the team. He hasn't done anything to warrant that level of contempt.

    I'll be honest. As a fan, I have no real interest in placing more blame on one part of the team as opposed to another. It's not as if after a disappointing loss my favorite offensive players would be content and happy if the public decided the loss wasn't their fault. It's not as if the Cowboys defense can compete in the by themselves leaving Dak and the offense at home if Dak is somehow proven to be the limiting factor. Outside of whatever use a person has for debate, banter, and the throwing of shade, this entire conversation is essentially pointless.

    At the same time, I thought an adjustment in perspective was necessary. Sometimes people cough Stephen A. Smith cough (sorry, still getting over that cold) do or say things for attention/ ratings/ clout/ to land more appearances, and they have no regard for how it impacts fans and could ultimately impact players. Yes, Dak Prescott has shown lapses in judgment, but he's also made some awesome plays that fans should be proud of.

    Jazz Monet
    Jazz Monet
    Sports culture analyst. Sports competition enthusiast. Host of Bitches Love Sports podcast. Personal trainer. Roller derby athlete and trainer.


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    Jeffrey Tuggle

    True Dak is not the weakest link. But he certainly is not the strongest. Those that still think he could be elite…well, they are like those that thought Longley was better than Staubach. Fact is he has talent but accuracy and forcing throws into heavy traffic while never looking away from the receiver from the snap are trademarks. He’s good but not great. As for the true weak link, look no further than the run defense. You pointed that out in doing your “research” and looking at the numbers. The simple eye test is all you needed. And we all have been aware of this long ago. After all, this traces back a decade with the poor run defense and quite often get gashed by opponents. The Mighty Quinn, as the 70s song goes, has not addressed this well and the organization has not addressed this at all by ignoring the DT position for years. Oh, an occasional 2nd or 3rd round pick in the last 4 drafts. But still with reaching at least 2 rounds early for Hill and then the pick of the Great Gallimore when neither were exactly run stuffers in college along with a general lack of interest of the interior of the defense has for years now left this team vulnerable to getting run over. It is the weakest link !


    Agree that Smith loves to hyperbolize for a result.

    Why the eliminating of the Bucs game in the analysis, as it is not just the one Packer loss that people are looking at to do their critique of DP this year. For that matter, maybe they are looking at his entire career.

    As far as looking at DP’s performance AFTER coming back from injury, it could not have been a better time for him as far as the competition he faced. First the lowly Lions who currently rank 32nd, or last, in the NFL in defense and were coming off being drubbed and shutout 29-0 by the Pats, Next the Bears bibulous defense, ranked at 28th in the league. Then the Packers, who were reeling with five loses in a row, at 26th. So, it’s easy to see why the boost in the offensive numbers.

    The question of DP being so called “elite”, IMO, has been answered years ago. He has had the many advantages, most of his career, of playing in the weakest division in the league (up until this year), while having a good supporting cast, but has netted just one PS win. Considering that, his track record for that most important stat to the fans is obviously not good. All the spinning and twisting will not change that stubborn fact. But this is what they have to work with at least for another two years (unless something unexpected happens), as they are very unlikely to bench a $40 million/yr player.

    In any event, they have a tough game in MN coming up. Let’s see how they respond.

    Bobby Borges

    I think it’s safe to say they paid for an elite QB and instead received an avg QB