Daily Focus: Dak Prescott continues impressive preseason

the Dallas Cowboys the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Coliseum during preseason on August 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.

Dak Prescott does it again: In the first week of preseason action, Dak Prescott was the best-graded QB in the league. It made for a nice story, but anybody can have one nice game. Against Miami on Friday night he backed it up with a second fine performance. He played 34 snaps and scored four touchdowns, two through the air and two on the ground.

He completed 12 of his 15 pass attempts for 199 yards and a perfect passer rating of 158.3 on a day that wasn’t far short of flawless when it came to his throws. Of his three incompletions, one was batted at the line, one couldn’t quite be squeezed in when running to the sideline and targeting the end zone and the other was a dangerous miscommunication between Prescott and his receiver Lucky Whitehead that could easily have resulted in an interception. Prescott expected Whitehead to cross the face of the defender but he instead balked and tried to sit down the other side of him, causing Prescott to rifle the ball right at the coverage man only to see him fail to come up with it.

That’s one, maybe two minor mistakes in 34 snaps of football, at least of the plays that counted. He also threw an interception on a crossing route intended for Bruce Butler that was always destined for trouble, but got lucky when it was nullified because of a roughing the passer penalty. Statistically it didn’t count and never happened, but it was his one legitimate bad decision of the game, and if he wasn’t already guaranteed the backup job in Dallas after last week, he will be now.

Prescott remains the top-graded QB in the preseason this year with still some games remaining of this week’s action, and his raw numbers for his two weeks of play are beginning to look silly. He has completed over 80 percent of his passes, passed for four touchdowns, and has a perfect passer rating, and that doesn’t count the two scores ad 41 yards he has added on the ground.

He has been under pressure on more dropbacks (16) than he has been kept clean on (15), and is a hair away from having a perfect passer rating under pressure as well (156.3).

As always at this time of year, the caveat is that it is only preseason, but Dak Prescott’s NFL introduction couldn’t have gone much better than it has so far.


Carson Palmer’s 2015 hangover: Carson Palmer had a legitimate MVP-caliber season in 2015. He was playing at what should have been an unsustainably high level all season long in an offense that led the league in average depth of target at 11.3 yards down field. That’s almost five full yards per attempt further down the field than some QBs, even successful ones, and yet Palmer was still able to complete 63.7 percent of his passes, and throw just 11 picks in the regular season. It all went well until he dislocated his index finger on his throwing hand, and then we saw a collapse of biblical proportions, culminating in the worst playoff performance PFF has ever graded from a QB as the Cardinals were dumped from the NFC Championship Game.

That year was so far outside of Palmer’s career baseline it’s only natural to question how close to that level of performance he can get again in 2016, and so far in preseason his play has been pretty ugly. We have only seen him for 20 snaps this preseason, but already that has been enough to threaten the poorer grades in the NFL at the position, and his passer rating is just 38.9, or two points higher than if he had just thrown every pass at the floor.

Preseason doesn’t necessarily determine regular-season performance, but the Cardinals must be asking themselves if they are going to have the same guy at QB last season that was so implausibly efficient within that offense and was such a big part of their success on offense.

Target Brown among the ARI receivers

Arizona has three big-name wide receivers, but Mike Tagliere says go for John Brown over Michael Floyd or Larry Fitzgerald.

See the whole Arizona depth chart here.

The return of Darrelle Revis: The Jets lost to Washington 18-22, and Geno Smith’s performance was bad enough to seriously ramp up the intensity of the talk that he should lose his backup job to Bryce Petty, but the big news for the Jets was the return of Darrelle Revis to the fold, which he punctuated with a leaping interception in the end zone of a hopeful Colt McCoy pass.

Revis ended his part of the game without giving up a catch, or even being targeted on his 27 snaps, as the pick he hauled in was actually Buster Skrine’s coverage that he was just able to sink underneath and add himself to, but we did see some of the old Revis Island in play.

He may be declining, and might not be best-suited to the old role the Jets asked of him, because the very best receivers in the league these days will cause him problems in ways they didn’t in the past, but Revis is still a very good cornerback capable of impressive plays and good coverage, and is vital to the Jets defense in a way few other players are. For the Jets it was good news to see him out there and showing he can still make plays.


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