Expect Dak Prescott to improve with Mike McCarthy calling plays?
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Source: FOX Sports
Now for the truly next-level analysis: The Cowboys aren’t going to bump their win total if Prescott doesn’t raise his individual level of play.
The whole reason Prescott is even a hotly debated topic is because of his struggles in 2022. Despite missing five weeks with the thumb injury, he led the NFL with 15 interceptions to just 23 touchdowns. His postseason was a microcosm of his up-and-down year, as he threw two costly picks against San Francisco just six days after completing 76% of his passes and scoring five touchdowns against Tampa Bay.
The simple truth of the matter, though, is that Prescott is no stranger to gaudy stat lines. In two of his previous three seasons prior to 2022, he eclipsed 4,440 passing yards. He combined for 67 touchdowns in the 2019 and 2021 seasons, and he was on pace to throw 29 when he broke his leg in Week 5 of 2020.
More importantly to this conversation, he managed to do that without the turnovers. Prescott’s career interception rate sits at just 2.0 even after his pick-happy 2022, as he managed to throw an interception on less than 2% of his attempts in each of the previous four years.
The precedent says that’s important. In addition to putting up video game numbers, NFL MVPs avoid errors. Only one of the past 10 MVPs has turned the ball over more than 15 times on the season, and that was Peyton Manning, who threw a league-record 55 touchdowns when he won in 2013. Similarly, Patrick Mahomes threw 12 interceptions en route to the award last season, but he coupled that with 45 touchdowns — nearly a 4:1 ratio. Prescott’s options are to significantly boost his touchdown production or significantly cut back on the turnovers.
Both options feel possible. Again, Prescott has put up plenty of strong numbers. His 37 passing touchdowns in 2021 set a franchise record, and he came just one yard short of tying the team’s single-season yardage record in 2019, with a total of 4,902. In both of those seasons, he managed to pile up stats with fewer turnovers — 30 touchdowns to 11 interceptions in 2019, and 37 touchdowns to 10 interceptions in 2021. That will matter, as every MVP since 2013 has managed a minimum of 4,200 total yards and 32 touchdowns on the season.