Contextually, eras matter. Championships matter most.
So the idea of this article is not to project the perceived future greatness of Cowboys’ QB Dak Prescott.

This is merely a mathematical inevitability, that can be seen from miles away. Dak Prescott is going to absolutely wipe clean the ledger of all Cowboys’ quarterbacking records, and he may have it done before he completes his next contract. Like him or not, it’s time to get used to the idea of seeing Dak Prescott atop the franchise career leaders list for just about every measure of quarterbacking.

It doesn’t really seem right that a franchise with the rich history of the Dallas Cowboys has never had an all-time great QB from a career statistical standpoint. Sure Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman are rightfully mentioned among the greats, but the Cowboys have never had that John Elway or Brett Favre type of QB who played a decade and a half just racking up cumulative stats.

Troy Aikman is the Cowboys career leader in QB starts with 165. Tony Romo who owns virtually all of the Cowboys quarterbacking records started only 156 games. Dak Prescott has a fair shot to wipe them both out in just 5 more seasons (131 career games), and clearing them out within 6 more seasons (148 career games) is a mere formality. Health permitting, Dak Prescott will rule the Cowboys record books.

As previously stated, eras do absolutely matter. Staubach played in the stone ages when yards, touchdowns, and even completions were much harder to come by. Aikman played in a more advanced offensive era, but still a stone age of sorts when compared to today’s game. Romo’s career began when NFL offense really started to enter a sharp uptick and ended the same year Prescott’s began. Nonetheless, when all is said and done, Prescott will have enjoyed a more favorable environment within which to build his career statistical resume.

In 2020, we have better stats to quantify the quality of quarterbacking (QBR, CPOE, EPA, etc.), and Dak Prescott shakes grades out very well in those as well. However, when the average fans dig into a player’s career, volume stats are still the primary measure.

Let’s have a look at franchise leader Tony Romo’s volume numbers, and also where Prescott sits after 4 seasons as the Cowboys starting signal-caller.

Tony Romo

  • 156 games
  • 34,183 yards
  • 2,829 completions (4,335 attempts, 65.3%)
  • 248 TD / 117 INT (2.7%)

Dak Prescott

  • 64 games
  • 15,778 yards
  • 1,363 completions (2071 attempts, 65.8%)
  • 97 TD / 36 INT (1.7%)

For Prescott to have Romo cleaned out in 6 more seasons, and be the Cowboys’ undisputed all-time passing leader, Prescott’s average season would need to look like this or better:

244-373, 3,067 yards, 25.3 TD, and less than 13.5 INT per season to stay under Romo’s career total of 117.

Teething, infant, 2016 rookie baby Dak Prescott could bus-drive his way to the 6-year takeover plan, and Dak is a much better player now and still growing. Prescott has never thrown fewer completions, or for fewer yards than the required number, and has never thrown more picks than what he would need to remain within the interception threshold. The 25.3 touchdowns per year would be the only item in question, as Dak’s career average is 24.25.

A few things to consider here, however.

Passing TD’s are largely a play-calling stat. Quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Tom Brady each reside in the neighborhood of 100 career TD passes of three yards or less. Aaron Rodgers, who played nearly his entire career under current Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy has just shy of 70 such tosses. A few more favorable red zone play calls could tilt that stat in Prescott’s favor.

Also, not to be forgotten, under the new CBA Prescott will get an extra game each year after 2020. A game is worth about 1.5 TDs based on Prescott’s career averages, so 7 or 8 over that span.

Catching Romo in just 5 seasons would be tough from a touchdown standpoint, but the rest should be a cakewalk. The requisite average season for Dak would need to look like this or better:

293-448, 3,681 yards, 30.2 TD, and less than 16 INT to stay under Romo’s career total of 117.

To keep this all in perspective, Dak Prescott threw the ball 596 times last season (388 completions) in 2019. His career average season would have him throwing the ball 517 times completing 340. The completions and yards are getting blown away, period. It’s hard to imaging any scenario where Prescott fails to clear 4,000 yards in a season again.

The touchdowns are the only question mark. Prescott started his career in such a pedestrian manner in that category, he would sort of need to have one anomalous 40 TD season to sort of setting him back on a more manageable pace. Play-calling, Dak’s development… who knows? It’s doable but it’s not a lock.

Think about this though. Dak Prescott has a fair chance to be the franchise leader in all passing categories, to achieve that in 25 games less than the previous leader, and have that all accomplished by age 32, with a “golden years” stage of his career left to play and drive those records into space.

A few statistical projection notes on Dak Prescott:

  • Already the team’s all-time leader in QB rush TD, and needs just 1,043 yards to take over the lead for QB rush yards (Staubach)
  • Will pass Don Meredith for 5th in franchise history in passing yards in 2020 and should have Danny White and Staubach chased down by 2020
  • Prescott’s 97.0 career passer rating leaves him just .1 behind Tony Romo’s 97.1
  • 30 passing TD’s in each of 2020, and 2021 surge Prescott past Meredith, White, and Staubach, into 3rd place, leaving only Aikman and Romo to chase

Dread it. Run from it. Destiny arrives all the same. Whether they be Dak Prescott’s biggest doubters or supporters, Cowboys fans had better get used to the idea of Dak being the franchises passing king.

If the team can help him squeeze out a single Super Bowl, everyone had better get used to the idea of him being in the Ring of Honor as well.

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