The definitive guide why Dak Prescott is not a franchise quarterback

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /
3 of 5
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

A more Important Metric to Define a Franchise Quarterback

An argument could be made that winning is a function of the collective team effort. It is possible to win a game 2-0 where the defense scores all the points but the starting quarterback still gets credit for the win.

There is a measure that when you dig deeper, it reveals even more. If winning matters most, winning in crunch time is truly a barometer of trust and a worthy definition of a franchise quarterback.

Scott Kacsmar has done extensive research on fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drives. His work is posted in three parts (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) and is the method used at Pro Football Reference.

Essentially, a fourth-quarter comeback is one that satisfies these two conditions:

  • Win the game (no ties or losses)
  • Take the field trailing by one to eight points (one to seven before 1994) and score as an offense (no fumble return TD to win the game) during the fourth quarter

A game-winning drive includes games that were tied during the fourth quarter and the offense scores the go-ahead points.

While these metrics are indicative of clutch play, they also include situations that are not clutch. Take for example a scenario where an offense has the ball with third down and goal to go conditions when the third quarter ends. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the offense does not score a touchdown but kicks a go-ahead field goal on the next play.

Assuming the team now trailing does not score any more points, the quarterback from the winning team is credited with a fourth-quarter game-winning drive. During his four-year career, Prescott has eight fourth-quarter comebacks and fourteen game-winning drives.

Let’s look at one of the fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drives in detail. In his rookie season, the Cowboys beat the Vikings on the road in Week 13 by a score of 17-15.

The Vikings took a 9-7 lead with 14:15 left in the game. On the next Cowboys drive, Prescott moved the offense 15 yards from his team’s 25-yard line in 3:43 resulting in a punt.

Vikings punt returner Adam Thielen fumbled the punt which Dallas recovered at the Minnesota 8 yard line. On the next play, Prescott found former wide receiver Dez Bryant for an 8-yard touchdown and the go-ahead score which Dallas would not relinquish.

As a result, Prescott was credited with a fourth-quarter comeback and a game-winning drive. In hindsight, the critical play on the game-winning drive was a Minnesota fumble on a Dallas punt that netted the Cowboys 52 yards. Yet history will show that Prescott was clutch in leading Dallas to the win.