Dak Prescott's early NFL success no surprise to Mississippi State fans
Fans in Dallas might be a bit surprised at Dak Prescott’s early success, but nobody in Starkville is.
A fourth-round draft pick of the Cowboys this past April, Prescott has arguably been the top story in the NFL through two weeks of preseason games. The rookie has been nothing short of sensational.
In his professional debut Aug. 14, Prescott hit on 10-of-12 passes for 139 yards with 2 TDs and no INTs — both of his incompletions were drops, too. He outdueled the No. 1 overall pick, Jared Goff, who was 4-of-9 passing for 38 yards with 0 touchdowns and an interception for the Los Angeles Rams.
While social media was abuzz discussing Prescott’s outing, it was a meaningless exhibition contest.
— NFL (@NFLonLive) August 14, 2016
But the former Mississippi State signal caller did it a second time Saturday, lighting up the Miami Dolphins to the tune of 12-of-15 for 199 yards and a quartet of scores — two passing, two rushing.
Again, it’s just the preseason, but back-to-back performances like that from a first-year passer is worth noting. Facing the Rams, Prescott’s two scoring tosses came well before halftime. Los Angeles still had plenty of starters on the field. He wasn’t facing a collection of soon-to-be UPS drivers.
Against Miami, his first air and ground TD were in the second quarter. It wasn’t garbage time.
Hammering the point home even further, Prescott connected with All-Pro receiver Dez Bryant for six in each tilt. The fact that he’s already creating some chemistry with Big D’s top target is encouraging.
With a healthy Tony Romo in 2014, the ‘Boys had one of the more balanced offenses in the league and posted a 12-4 record. But Romo missed 12 of 16 games a year ago due to injury — the club was 1-11 with him in street clothes. Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden and Kellen Moore were equally ineffective.
Previously in the market for a reliable reserve behind Romo, Dallas may have found one in Prescott.
Following the Cowboys’ 41-14 victory over the Dolphins at AT&T Stadium, Dallas Morning News staff writer Jon Machota came up with his “5 takeaways” from the game. Prescott’s solid showing was atop the list:
“Remember when the Cowboys used to worry about the backup quarterback position? Dak Prescott is making a lot of folks forget. No need to go out and sign that veteran backup, Jerry Jones, it’s Prescott’s job now. The rookie QB has been sensational during his preseason work. His stats in two quarters against the Rams: 10 of 12, 139 yards, 2 passing TDs, 154.4 rating. His first half Friday night against the Dolphins: 9 of 12, 139 yds, 1 pass TD, 1 rush TD 140.6 rating. Prescott has been better than expected. The Cowboys had planned to redshirt him a year, but things have changed after what they’ve witnessed this preseason.”
Through two weeks of exhibition play, among players with double-digit passing attempts, Prescott is third in completion percentage (81.5). His yards-per-attempt average (12.5) is tops for anybody who has thrown 10-plus passes. His passer rating (158.3) is perfect using the NFL’s intricate formula.
He’s also only been sacked once. First-rounder Paxton Lynch has been driven to the turf six times.
As is usually the case, the person least surprised by his effectiveness is Prescott himself. Not heavily recruited in high school, he had to prove everyone wrong in college. Now he’s doing it in the pros.
“The more reps I get,” Prescott told reporters after the matchup with Miami, “the better I feel I’m going to be.”
Going into the draft this past spring, the passers worthy of Round 1 consideration were Goff, Lynch and Carson Wentz. Prescott was in that second tier alongside the likes of Connor Cook and Christian Hackenberg. With the exception of perhaps Cook, Prescott did more as a collegian than any of them.
Come draft weekend, they all were selected before Prescott. So were Jacoby Brissett and Cody Kessler.
That isn’t to say it’s time to redo the draft altogether so Prescott can cast Goff aside as the top pick. Prescott has simply gotten off to a quicker start. Goff was strong in his second outing, too.
So much of the draft is about the evaluation process. By his own admission, Prescott isn’t a great football test-taker. He’s big, but not huge. He has a strong arm, but not a cannon. He’s fast, but not blazing. Even back in high school, he never blew away the competition while doing the camp tour.
But some players have a certain “it” quality. Nobody knows that better than Mississippi State supporters.
— Darius Cole (@DColeSports) August 20, 2016
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will say just about anything when cameras are rolling. His son, executive vice president Stephen Jones, is much more measured with his remarks. And Prescott has him talking.
Again, according to the Dallas Morning News:
“Any time you see a rookie come in and have the production he has had, that is surprising for any rookie. But in terms of from the day he walked in the door, he has shown a lot of unique intangibles, rare intangibles in terms of his leadership, his people skills, his ability to lead. He wants to learn. He wants to work hard. He will continue to do that and not take anything for granted.”
It’s preseason. Prescott hasn’t been asked to follow a real game plan, plus opponents haven’t been game-planning for him — there’s almost no tape out there at this point. On top of that, there’s an unwritten NFL rule that blitzing is minimal during exhibition games. The enemy is yet to unleash hell.
Hold off on fitting Prescott for that Hall of Fame jacket. It’s OK to get a little excited, though.