FRISCO, Texas - There were plenty of ups and downs for Dak Prescott over the course of the 2022 season.
Prescott broke his thumb in Week 1 against the Buccaneers and subsequently missed the next five games. He returned in Week 7, helping lead the Cowboys to one of the best offenses in the league the rest of the way. There was his masterful performance in the Super Wild Card round against Tampa, all the while throwing a career-high 15 interceptions and a crushing exit in the NFC Divisional Round against the 49ers.
Resilient? Absolutely. Had an incredibly productive season? Mike McCarthy thinks so. Room for improvement? McCarthy would also agree.
"Dak's been through some things this year and last year as far as injury," McCarthy said. "I think his ability to come back from injury was outstanding. His resilience is exactly what you're hoping for. I don't think there's a man more respected in that locker room. I think when you take a step back and take the emotion out of how our season ended, there's an incredible amount of productivity."
The final stat line for Prescott was not exactly what he produced in 2021 when he threw for almost 4,500 yards and 37 touchdowns. In 12 regular season games this season, the franchise quarterback threw for nearly 2,900 yards, 23 touchdowns, a 91.1 passer rating… And of course, the 15 picks.
Even during the Cowboys' playoff run this season, there were two very different performances from Prescott. Against the Buccaneers he posted perhaps the best playoff game of his career - 305 passing yards, five total touchdowns, and no picks. The following week against the 49ers? 206 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Despite the inconsistent nature of Prescott's seventh season with the Cowboys and his third under McCarthy (including the 2020 season with the ankle injury), McCarthy maintained that in total Prescott and the Cowboys' offense as whole had a highly productive campaign.
I definitely think there's been consistency like that this year," McCarthy said of Prescott's hot start to the 2021 season. "Interceptions are very important plays in a game. But there's still 30-32 balls and throws over the course of the game. Productive things come off of that. And that speaks for itself."
But even with McCarthy saying that, one thing that was clear from Monday's press conference was that everyone on the Cowboys' roster and coaching staff will be evaluated. McCarthy said he is not excluded from that, and neither is Prescott.
"As long as I've been doing this, you're always working to improve the quarterback," McCarthy said. "... One of the big emphasis this year was games of 70% completion. We improved in that area just briefly looking at that. Turnovers are obviously a huge negative area. I think this will all be part of how we look at our offense.
"We're not just going to change the date on how we do things in 2023 - I promise you that."
Change is inevitable, and McCarthy said as much on Monday after the Cowboys elected not to bring back six assistant coaches. So, more changes could be ahead just as they are for every team that didn't reach their goals. But for his battle-tested quarterback, McCarthy made it clear that he liked what he saw.
"So let me summarize - I think the big thing is when you get in these spots, the quarterback has a bright light on them. So, I think it's important to make sure we go back through everything. We came up short. We're all a part of it, and it starts with me. So statically I thought [Prescott] did some great things."