Analysis

Up for Debate: Can Cowboys Win in Playoffs with Dak Prescott?

Dak Prescott led the Dallas Cowboys to their 12th win on Thursday night. It was a lackluster performance that typified much of Prescott’s season —nearing 300 passing yards (282), with a high completion percentage (71%), and multiple touchdowns (2) and interceptions (2).

In many ways, Prescott is living the life of his predecessor, Tony Romo, who gained a reputation over the years for putting up big numbers in games and big regular-season win totals, but never being able to win the BIG game. In a bit of irony, Prescott’s next touchdown pass will put him ahead of every quarterback in Cowboys history except … Romo. 

After Thursday night’s victory in Nashville, we asked two of our experts, former Titans RB Eddie George and current Chargers QB Chase Daniel, to assess Prescott and the Cowboys’ chances in the playoffs with him under center. They came out on opposite sides of the debate:

Eddie George: Dak Holding Cowboys Back

The Cowboys have an elite run game, an elite defense, an opportunistic special teams unit, but as far as the quarterback play, Dak Prescott is the problem. Dak is the Achilles’ heel. He throws too many interceptions for my liking. 

At this point in the season, your offense should be humming, should be built around confidence, you should be rolling and not making a lot of mistakes. What I see out of Dak Prescott is a lot of forced throws, misreads of coverage. On one of his interceptions against the Titans, he should have had a check-down to Ezekiel Elliott in the flat, but instead, he threw into double coverage. 

That’s the stuff you don’t want to see out of your starting quarterback in Weeks 17, 18, and rolling into the playoffs. And in the playoffs, the margin for error is so small. Every yard counts. Every play counts. Every turnover counts. The defenses he’s going to see in the playoffs – the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles – they will feast on that. 

If the Cowboys don’t advance in the playoffs, it’s going to be because of Dak Prescott and his inability to protect the football. 

Less is more when it comes to Dak Prescott. Have him throw the ball 25 times or less, run the football, control the clock, let the defense on the field create opportunities and shorten the field, and be conservative in play-calling. If they do that, I think Dallas has a chance. Outside of that, with Dak throwing the ball more than 25 times a game, the Cowboys are in trouble. 

Chase Daniel: Don’t Blame Cowboys QB

Everyone wants to talk about Dak Prescott and how he’s turning the ball over – a league-leading 14 interceptions – and he missed five games with the thumb injury. But if you really look deep down at some of these interceptions, there are only seven that were deemed turnover-worthy throws. The other seven include drops, tips, and all sorts of things out of his control.

Obviously, Dak doesn’t want to turn the ball over, but a lot of these are not on him. It’s crazy how many of these throw-aways, tips or picks haven’t gone Dak’s way. 

They’re first in points, second in yards, first in third-down conversions since he’s come back. It’s a very dangerous offense. If they can try to limit those turnovers, they’re going to be very scary.

*****

Eddie George is a former All-Pro running back who played eight seasons with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, and one season with the Dallas Cowboys. He is the current head coach at Tennessee State. Follow him on Twitter at @EddieGeorge2727.

An undrafted free agent in 2009, Chase Daniel has played quarterback in the NFL for seven different teams. He currently is Justin Herbert’s backup with the Los Angeles Chargers. Follow him on Twitter at @ChaseDaniel.

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