How Dak Prescott came back from injury better than ever for Cowboys as truly elite QB (2023)

Dak Prescott was headed to a career year when he went down with a serious ankle injury in Week 6 of last season. One year removed from being in tears while gettingcarted off the field against the Giants and needing surgery, he has picked up where he leftoff.

At age 28 in Year 5, it should be no surprise a quarterback with Prescott's talent is coming through inhis prime. But he's also evolved into a transcendent elite passer.

Prescott was a rookie revelation taking over for Tony Romo in 2016. Coming into the league with his good friend and sturdy backfield mate Ezekiel Elliott, he delivered the Cowboys an efficient overall offense playing off a strong running game. Before 2021, that came with his career-high 104.9 passer rating.

This season Prescott is rated a stellar 116.9. He's doing it while completing a 73.9 percent of his passes with a 9.0 adjusted yards per attempt, also new career highs. Most important, because of his play and better help from the defense, the Cowboys are 4-1 and have a chance to mirror the 13-3 team from '16.

As the saying goes, Prescott's major setback turned out to be the setup for a great comeback. Here's looking at why Prescott has made the jump into the upper echelon of NFL quaterbacking for good:

Dak Prescott is in Year 3 of the same dynamic offense

Prescott and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore have gone from an experimental young combination to simpatico domination. Moore has excelled at striking the right balance between a top-flight running game and an explosivepassing game. There are elements of what Prescott did before Moore was calling the plays but taken to the next level with an adjustable approach based on opponents.

Long gone are the conservative clock-grinding days under Jason Garrett. Moore has not only made the Cowboys more versatile and multiple — and therefore extremely difficult to defend — but they also are aggressive. They have full trust in Prescott for relentless passing to put opponents away. Forget ball control; the Cowboys are following the old-school meets new-school feel of "pass to score, run to win" with Prescott.

Prescott's experience in the scheme is allowing him to see the entire field better and execute with confidence. Prescott came into the league praised for his physical toughness, buthe hasn't gotten enough credit for nailing down the mental parts of the game with his work ethic. Having a steady rapportwith Moore — credit coach Mike McCarthy for not breaking that up — has put Prescott into the rare play-callerrelationship we've seen with Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes.

Dak Prescott is spreading the ball around like never before

Given his wide receivers are first-rounders Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, it would shock many to know that it's tight end Dalton Schultz who leads the Cowboys with 26 receptions after five games. Cooper has 25 and Lamb has 24.

Field-stretching third wideout Michael Gallup hasn't played since hurting his calfagainst the Buccaneers in Week 1, but Prescott hasgotten some big plays from replacement Cedrick Wilsonwhen needed. Out of the backfield, Ellliot and talented understudy Tony Pollard have combined for 21 receptions.

Back as a rookie, Dez Bryant was Prescott's go-to guy. Prescott started slumping as Bryant faded and there was no true No. 1. That changed when the Cowboys made a blockbuster trade with the Raiders to acquire Cooper three years ago. Although Cooper and Gallup was a good duo. adding Lamb in the 2020 draft wasn't a "luxury pick" by Jerry Jones. It gave Dallas an interchangeable wideout with Cooper, one could run all the routes inside-out with good hands.

Teams cannot take away both Cooper and Lamb, and the Cowboys will be even more dangerous when Gallup's perimeter speed must be considered in coverage. The emergence of Schultz has brought back a Jason Witten-like short-to-intermediate presence. Pollard gives them an extra gear on checkdowns when Elliott is not in the game.

Prescott is pushing the right buttons in targeting the players with best matchups, helped by Moore. Although Cooper and Lamb can still take over games, the Cowboys don't need to force-feed them ball with myriad options and the foundation of a dominant running game again. Everyone is Prescott's go-to guy now and he's more willing to be patient and throw all over the field.

Dak Prescott is less reliant on his own running

Prescott is averaging only 12 rushing yards per game, an easy career low.Although he's never been a read-option type runner, he was quick to pick his spots to scramble at times. He also made rushing a big part of his red zone success in the past.

Don't confuse this with Prescott being gun shy to run because of his ankle injury. This by the design of the offense, where Prescott has become more dangerous using his footwork and mobility to buy time to go through all of his progressions. The difference is, most of the time someone is open and he doesn't need to resort to his legs beyond the line of scrimmage.

Prescott's offensive line is also coming through for him again. Adjusting from the one extra game on the schedule in 2021,Prescott is on pace to be sacked only 25 times in 16 games — which would have matched the total from his rookie season. The protection has been good, but Prescott also has improved at sidestepping pressure. He's confident he can hang in there inside the pocket or go a little on the move and pass the ball where he would like.

Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen are going through this same two-step development as younger top quarterbacks, where they are neither one-receiver nor self-running dependent to advance the ball for the necessary gains.

Dak Prescott has been furthermotivated by almost losing it all

Brees is an elite future Hall of Famer now, but it's easy to forget his long successful run with the Saints may have never happened. Last week on "Football Night in America" on NBC, Brees likened Prescott's ankle injury to the shoulder concern he had following his last season with the Chargers in 2005.

There was some thought Brees might either never look right as a passer or play another down in the NFL. So when he landed with the Saints in 2006, Brees said he was a driven QB, ready tomake the most of his second chance in Sean Payton's offense. He turned the corner from so-so passer to an all-time great proficient one.

Prescott has admitted some of those career-endingthoughts went through his mind. Consider that before going down against the Giants, Prescott had been one of the league's most durable quarterbacks, starting every game since he was a rookie.

Any trifleof physical invincibility Prescott had went out the window while facing his football mortality. The Cowboys rewarded him with a lucrative long-term contract regardless of the injury because they had faith in him to put every effort into coming back better than ever, not taking any snap for granted.

The result has been a hyper-focused and locked in Prescott. The scary part is, he is still knocking off a little rust and he can step into a greater groove in the second half season once Gallup returns.

Whatever being an "elite" quarterback really means, Prescott has provided plenty of evidence this season that he belongs in that company with his fellow young guns.


How many games has Dak missed to injury? ›

Prescott has missed 12 games since 2020 due to injury after starting the first 69 games of his career, and the Cowboys are 5-7 in those games, averaging 21 points and 216 passing yards per game with a Total QBR of 43.

How did Dak Prescott injury happen? ›

Prescott's injury occurred when he hit his throwing hand on Shaquil Barrett's helmet late in the game. He quickly left the field for examination and did not return. Prior to his exit, he was 14 of 29 for 134 yards with an interception.

What is Dak Prescott's record against teams with a winning record? ›

What is Dak Prescott's record against winning teams? Since entering the NFL in 2016, Dak Prescott is 18-24 (. 428) against teams that finished the season with a winning record. In 2021, Dak Prescott was 5-4 (.

Who replaced Dak Prescott after injury? ›

The most likely answer is simply that backup Cooper Rush, who replaced Prescott for the final six minutes of Sunday's game, will take over as the interim starter. Rush did this briefly in 2021, when he started a single game -- a Week 8 Monday night win over the Vikings -- while Prescott recovered from a calf injury.

What quarter did Dak Prescott get injured? ›

The team has a Week 9 bye. Prescott suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys' 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after his hand twice hit the hand of linebacker Shaq Barrett.

How long is Dak Prescott out for the season? ›

He's expected to miss 6-to-8 weeks.

Why is Prescott not playing for Dallas? ›

Dak Prescott injury: Jerry Jones hopes QB can play in next 4 games; Dak won't go on IR, eyes Week 8-10 return. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will not go on injured reserve after fracturing his thumb during Dallas' season-opening loss to the Buccaneers.

Who's Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback? ›

Mike McCarthy on backup QB Cooper Rush leading Cowboys to back-to-back wins: 'He doesn't get rattled' Cooper Rush to the rescue. The Dallas Cowboys earned their second win of the season with the backup quarterback at the helm, taking down the New York Giants, 23-16, on Monday night.

Who is the New Cowboys QB? ›

Dallas Cowboys

What is Aaron Rodgers win/loss record? ›

Aaron Rodgers has a 143-71-1 record in his career.
Aaron Rodgers215.667

How many times has Dak Prescott lost to the Eagles? ›

Dak Prescott has a record of 7-3 versus the Eagles in his career.

What is Deshaun Watson's career win loss record? ›

Deshaun Watson was 28-26 in his career.

Did the Cowboys pick up another quarterback? ›

The Dallas Cowboys select James Madison QB Ben DiNucci with the No. 231 overall pick in Round 7 of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Where is Cooper Rush from the Dallas Cowboys from? ›

Originally from Charlotte, Michigan, Rush was recruited by Lansing Catholic High School in Lansing, Michigan, with an enrollment of just over 500 students, where he became a three-year starter at quarterback for the football team. He also played basketball and baseball (until his freshman year).

Is Dak Prescott injured? ›

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott to have surgery on right thumb; expected to miss 6-8 weeks, sources say.

How did Prescott break his thumb? ›

The break came as Prescott attempted a screen pass to running back Ezekiel Elliott with 6:02 remaining in the fourth quarter, Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaq Barrett swatted Prescott's thumb. Prescott initially thought he jammed his finger when he realized he could not grip the ball.

How long has Dak been with Cowboys? ›

Dak Prescott
No. 4 – Dallas Cowboys
College:Mississippi State (2011–2015)
NFL Draft:2016 / Round: 4 / Pick: 135
Career history
Dallas Cowboys (2016–present)
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What is the roster for the Dallas Cowboys? ›

Dallas Cowboys

What was Dak Prescott injury last year? ›

If anything, the Cowboys have become too accustomed to life without Prescott. He suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in 2020, missing 11 games. Last season, he missed one game with a calf strain suffered in October that affected him for the rest of the season, whether he would let on or not.

Did Dak Prescott hurt his thumb? ›

Dak Prescott will miss roughly six to eight weeks with a thumb fracture, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. Prescott is expected to have surgery Monday where he will have a pin and plate inserted to stabilize the joint.

Is Dak Prescott on IR? ›

Dak Prescott won't go on IR, has 'real chance' for quick return to Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones says. FRISCO, Texas -- Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday that quarterback Dak Prescott will not go on injured reserve following surgery on his right thumb Monday.

What is Cooper Rush salary? ›

Cooper Rush signed a 2 year, $1,955,000 contract with the Dallas Cowboys, including an average annual salary of $977,500. In 2022, Rush will earn a base salary of $1,035,000, while carrying a cap hit of $845,278.
Current Contract.
Contract:2 yr(s) / $1,955,000
Free Agent:2023 / UFA
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Where is Cooper Rush now? ›

How many quarterbacks do the Cowboys have? ›

Cowboys QB depth chart

The Cowboys' depth chart at quarterback is rather odd looking right now with just Prescott on the 53-man roster, but the team does have three quarterbacks available.

Who is the winningest QB in NFL history? ›

The following is a list of the top National Football League (NFL) quarterbacks in regular season wins. In the NFL, the starting quarterback is the only position that is credited with records of wins and losses. Tom Brady holds the record for the most regular season wins with 245.

Who is the most successful quarterback of all time? ›

Brady becomes the greatest quarterback of all time in NFL history. In his career records, he has played in 264 games. He holds second place in terms of passing touchdown percentage at 79,204.

Who is the winningest team in NFL history? ›

When combining regular season and playoff win–loss records, the Bears hold the distinction for most overall games played (1,472), whereas the Packers have recorded the most wins (818) and the highest winning percentage (. 573), with a 818-606-38 record (1,462 games played) through the end of Super Bowl LVI.

Who has won the most NFC East titles? ›

The NFC East has grabbed 21 NFC championships and 13 Super Bowl victories, marking the highest of any division in the league. In that division, the Dallas Cowboys hold the lead with five wins, followed by the New York Giants with four and the Washington Commanders, who have won three.

What is Daks record against the Giants? ›

Dak Prescott has a 9-2 record against the Giants in his career.

What is Dak Prescott's record against the NFC East? ›

Dak Prescott is 25-6 against the NFC East in his career.

What is Tom Brady's win/loss record? ›

Tom Brady is 243-75 in his career.
Tom Brady318.764

What is Deshaun Watson's record as a starter in the NFL? ›

Deshaun Watson had a record of 28-25 as a starter in his career.

Has Dak Prescott been injured? ›

Prescott's injury came at the tail end of a brutal showing against the Buccaneers. The quarterback was under consistent pressure, and he sustained the injury by slamming it on the helmet of Shaquil Barrett during his throwing motion.

What year did Dak get hurt? ›

Injury History
Nov 9, 2013Non-NFLArm Elbow Sprain
Dec 15, 2019NFLShoulder
Oct 11, 2020NFLPedal Ankle Dislocation
Oct 11, 2020NFLPedal Ankle Fracture
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5 days ago

Did Prescott get hurt today's game? ›

On the final play of Sunday's 35–29 overtime win over the Patriots, Dak Prescott sustained a calf injury that put the Cowboys quarterback in a walking boot after the game. Prescott said that he "came down funny" on his right calf when he threw the game-winning, 35-yard touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb.

Why is Prescott not playing for Dallas? ›

Dak Prescott injury: Jerry Jones hopes QB can play in next 4 games; Dak won't go on IR, eyes Week 8-10 return. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will not go on injured reserve after fracturing his thumb during Dallas' season-opening loss to the Buccaneers.

Who's Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback? ›

Mike McCarthy on backup QB Cooper Rush leading Cowboys to back-to-back wins: 'He doesn't get rattled' Cooper Rush to the rescue. The Dallas Cowboys earned their second win of the season with the backup quarterback at the helm, taking down the New York Giants, 23-16, on Monday night.

How many endorsements does Dak Prescott have? ›

Dak Prescott Net Worth ( Updated 2022)
NameRayne Dakota Prescott
Source of WealthNFL, endorsements,
Salary$42 million
EndorsementsAT&T, Adidas, Beats by Dre, Campbell's Chunky Soup, Direct TV, 7-Eleven, New Era, Sleep Number, Oikos, Pepsi, Citibank.
Endorsement Earnings$50 million
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Who is the current Cowboys QBS first name? ›

Dak Prescott
Prescott with the Dallas Cowboys in 2021
No. 4 – Dallas Cowboys
Personal information
Born:July 29, 1993 Sulphur, Louisiana
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What week did Dak Prescott get hurt last year? ›

Prescott suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle—the same side as this calf strain—in Week 5 of last season. He underwent two surgeries, rehabilitating for months and showing no lingering limitations when the season opened.

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