Dak Prescott Is Already Playing About As Well As Tony Romo Ever

Dak Prescott Is Already Playing About As Well As Tony Romo Ever

The best 8-start stretches of Tony Romo and Dak Prescott’s careers Dak Prescott9/11/1611/6/1630438.562.080.2 15Colt McCoy2010274+2.8+24.150.1 19947-1-01741 6Matt Leinart2006343+4.4+31.058.7 8Mike Glennon2013327+8.3+33.856.9 DATE RANGESTATS DURING 8 GAMES 10Russell Wilson2012287+5.0+27.353.4 5Matt Ryan2008273+9.9+30.961.8 Tony Romo12/6/099/26/1035333.761.177.2 13Teddy Bridgewater2014327+2.1+27.452.1 20146-2-01585 Best rookies through first 8 starts, 2006-2016 11Sam Bradford2010353+3.9+31.252.7 PLAYERYEARPLAYSAVERAGEREPLACEMENTTOTAL QBR Tony Romo9/21/1411/23/1426036.656.980.0 Source: ESPN Stats & Info Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com 4Cam Newton2011381+18.8+48.563.5 12Derek Carr2014327+1.3+26.652.6 9Andy Dalton2011306+4.8+28.455.7 Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is sailing into uncharted territory for a rookie passer. Prescott shined again in Dallas’s 35-10 rout of the Cleveland Browns Sunday, completing 21 of 27 passes for 247 yards (9.1 per attempt), three touchdowns and zero interceptions. According to ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating (QBR), Prescott had the NFL’s top quarterbacking performance of the week,1Pending stats from Monday night’s Seahawks-Bills tilt. the second time in nine weeks he’s claimed top honors. All told, Prescott’s first eight starts are easily the best of any rookie signal-caller since ESPN began tracking QBR in 2006: PLAYERSTARTENDPLAYSPAAPARTOTAL QBR Tony Romo11/6/1112/24/1127334.055.376.1 Tony Romo9/23/0711/18/0731042.867.082.1 1Dak Prescott2016304+38.5+62.080.2 19936-2-01734 Romo’s 2007 stretch was actually preceded by two additional excellent starts (if we included overlapping stretches, parts of ’07 would show up as three of Romo’s top four stretches), so Prescott has to keep this up for a few more games to truly match Romo’s best stretch, but through eight games, he’s right there.3It’s also worth noting that Romo’s best stretch came early in his career — his second year as starter — so Prescott’s best days could be front-loaded as well.Prescott’s no mere game manager, either. In addition to ranking highly in QBR, he also ranks highly in stats that focus more on production — meaning yards, touchdowns and first downs. According to expected points added (EPA) relative to both the league average and the replacement level, Prescott’s current eight-start run is better than all but one of Romo’s eight-game stretches — that same 2007 period mentioned above. Rather than riding his teammates’ coattails, Prescott’s play has been one of the driving forces behind a squad that ranks second in offensive EPA but only 14th in EPA on both defense and special teams. 19965-3-01662 PAA = Points above averagePAR = Points above replacementResults were filtered to remove stretches that included games contained in a higher-ranking stretch.Source: ESPN Stats & Info POINTS ABOVE… 2Andrew Luck2012399+23.3+54.467.0 YEARRECORDELO RATING Although we don’t have QBR before 2006, Prescott also has the third-highest adjusted yards per attempt of any qualified2Minimum 100 pass attempts (or about 12.5 per team game). rookie passer through his team’s first eight games since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. He trails only Mark Rypien and Dan Marino, and although those two produced their numbers in a less passer-friendly environment than today’s NFL, they also threw less than half as many passes as Prescott has. Given all that, it’s tough to find a QB in history whose career has gotten off to a faster start than Prescott’s.Prescott has played so well, in fact, that he’s put the return of incumbent Cowboys starter Tony Romo on hold — perhaps indefinitely.As a stathead, I never bought into those silly arguments that Romo isn’t clutch, or that Dallas could never win a Super Bowl with him under center. Underneath all the hot takes he attracts, Romo has been one of his generation’s finest quarterbacks and one of the most efficient passers of all time — even after adjusting for the high-octane passing environment of the modern game. In terms of individual accomplishments, Romo has few quarterbacking peers.And yet, the case can be made that Prescott’s first eight starts have been as good as any eight (consecutive) starts Romo made in his entire career. According to QBR, Romo’s best set of eight straight starts came in 2007, between Weeks 3 and 11 of the 2007 season, when Romo posted an 82.1 mark on QBR’s 0-to-100 scale while throwing to Terrell Owens. That was the sole eight-start stretch of Romo’s career that was better than the only eight NFL starts Prescott has ever made: 7Ryan Tannehill2012289+0.5+23.158.4 19927-1-01663 14Marcus Mariota2015324+5.9+31.251.6 20167-1-01595 19957-1-01723 Speaking of which, the Cowboys are also off to one of their best starts in recent memory. This is the first time Dallas has won seven of its first eight games since 2007, and only the second time since 1995, the last time the team won the Super Bowl. And the Cowboys’ current Elo rating (our pet metric for estimating a team’s strength at a given moment) through eight weeks is the third-highest it’s been since Dallas’s dynasty days of the mid-1990s.Prescott is hardly the only Cowboy having a great season. Running back Ezekiel Elliott also leads the NFL in rushing yards, helping to power the second-best rushing attack in the league according to EPA. And, given his track record and what we know about his recovery so far, Romo would likely also be successful if he were slotted into Dallas’s lineup. (Though individual football players are often so interconnected with each other that it’s difficult to predict what will happen to the team when personnel changes.)But right now, Prescott has made just about as strong a case as possible that the Cowboys should stick with him going forward. Not only has he produced one of the best-ever first halves by a rookie QB, but he has also instantly played as well as Romo ever has. Now the only question is what he has in store for the back half of Dallas’s schedule. 19974-4-01579 20096-2-01617 3Robert Griffin III2012320+18.7+43.763.6 Best Cowboys teams through 8 games by Elo Rating, 1992-2016 20077-1-01619

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