OXNARD, Calif. – With any luck, Dak Prescott hopes his numbers go down in 2021.
That's a strange statement on the surface. But thinking back a lifetime, before the Cowboys' star quarterback fractured his ankle last October, it honestly tracks.
Thanks to a terrible turnover margin and a series of gigantic deficits, Prescott found himself bombing away to keep the Cowboys in most of their early games last season. Before the injury, he was famously on track to throw for 6,000 yards – an absurd number, even by modern NFL standards.
Asked about it Wednesday, Prescott said that style isn't sustainable if the Cowboys want to achieve their goals this season.
"I don't want to throw for 6,000 yards to be honest with you," he said. "That means we're not running the ball. That means we're not probably doing the things we need to do to be a balanced, winning team."
Last season showcases that point beautifully. Three of Prescott's five best passing totals and three of his seven career 400-yard games came in the first month of last season. He even eclipsed the 500-yard mark on Oct. 4 against Cleveland, completing 37-of-57 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns.
And yet, the Cowboys were 1-2 in those outings. Turnovers forced them into a 27-point deficit in that game against Cleveland, which they eventually lost by a score of 49-38. Their defense's early struggles contributed heavily to their 38-31 loss in Seattle. It took a minor miracle to see them scrape out the one win against Atlanta, as they needed numerous breaks to go their way to eke out a 40-39 walkoff win.
It was a month that saw the Cowboys pile up yardage, but not in the way that anyone would've preferred.
"As I said, I want to be the best offense in the NFL," Prescott said. "I think the best way we can do that is if I'm not throwing for that many yards and our run game is working and we're playing complementary football and we're winning a lot of games."
As fun as it might be to watch Prescott in crunch time, it's something he's hoping to avoid this time around.
"Hopefully, I'm not playing as many fourth quarters trying to come back and do the two-minute drills we were doing in the first five games that got me a lot of those numbers," he said.