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Is Dak Prescott really too mistake-prone to take the Dallas Cowboys back to the Super Bowl?

2JT41W3 August 26 2022: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) before the 1st half the NFL Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Matthew Lynch/CSM

• Prescott led the league in interceptions last year: The 17 interceptions Prescott tossed last season marked a career-high, with his previous high being 13 back in 2017.

• But he wasn't exactly “careless:” His turnover-worthy play rate of 3.8% did represent the highest figure of his career, but it was just 0.8 percentage points higher than his career baseline of 3.0%. And it still bettered than the likes of Josh Allen, Geno Smith and Tua Tagovailoa — among others — last season.

• A victim of variance: League-wide, turnover-worthy plays resulted in interceptions 77.3% of the time last season. Prescott's number was 88.9%, but his number had been 63.4% in his career before last season.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes


Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott tied for the league lead in interceptions with 15 last year before adding two more in the playoffs. But did it actually represent a critical flaw in his game, or did he simply become the victim of a data point subject to wild fluctuations and variance?

The 17 interceptions Prescott tossed last season marked a career-high, with his previous high being 13 back in 2017. He recorded 20 turnover-worthy plays over the campaign, the fourth time he has reached 20 or more over a season, though that number was actually four fewer than the previous year, albeit on fewer dropbacks.

His turnover-worthy play rate of 3.8% did represent the highest figure of his career, but it was just 0.8 percentage points higher than his career baseline of 3.0%. And it still bettered than the likes of Josh Allen, Geno Smith and Tua Tagovailoa — among others — last season.

A product of PFF's advanced grading system, ball location charting, situational grading and other wide-ranging advanced statistics, the 2023 QB Annual is now available to all PFF+ subscribers. Download the 2023 QB Annual here.

It’s fair to say that Prescott is more turnover-prone — or at least prone to the kind of plays that should lead to turnovers — than some quarterbacks. Justin Herbert has posted the league's lowest turnover-worthy play rate in each of the last two years at 1.6%, but Prescott’s career baseline of 3.0% would have ranked 18th out of 41 qualifiers last year — in the same spot as Trevor Lawrence.

The big change was in the ratio between those negative plays and actual turnovers. The Dallas quarterback had 20 turnover-worthy plays and 17 interceptions on the year, but if we restrict ourselves to non-fumble plays, he had 18 turnover-worthy plays that led to 17 interceptions. In contrast, Geno Smith’s 26 turnover-worthy plays led to just 12 interceptions.

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