Could Dak Prescott lose Comeback Player of the Year to Joe Burrow?
In the first half of the season, not only was Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott considered the clear frontrunner for Comeback Player of the Year (CPOY), but he was also in talk’s for the league’s MVP title. But towards the end of the season, Prescott was accused of being in a slump and couldn’t seem to get the offense going or get his team to win games against formidable opponents.
While all of that was happening, Cincinatti Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow had an incredible end of the season run that led to the Bengals clinching the AFC North in only his second season of football.
As a refresher, Prescott had a gruesome ankle injury (his foot was literally facing the wrong way) in October of 2020 that not only put him out for the season but genuinely brought up questions about his future as an athlete. His reported timeline was four-to-six months. Burrow suffered both a torn MCL and ACL a month later in November of 2020. Players who typically have injuries similar to the Bengals QB normally have a nine-to12 month rehab time.
Both players had brutal injuries, but there is something to be said for both of them getting healthy as quickly as they did.
Because of the disappointing end to the Cowboys’ season and the upward trend of the Bengals, many are saying that Burrow deserves to win CPOY over Prescott. Pro Football Focus even named Burrow as their choice for the award already.
Did Cowboys QB Dak Prescott’s bleak end to the season ruin his chance at winning Comeback Player of the Year over Joe Burrow?
To start, let’s compare the stats between the two for the 2021 regular season (remember that playoffs do not play into these awards).
- Completions/Attempts: Prescott – 410/596; Burrow – 366/520
- Total Passing Yards: Prescott- 4,449; Burrow – 4,611
- Passing Touchdowns: Prescott – 37; Burrow – 34
- Interceptions: Prescott – 10; Burrow – 14
- Quarterback Rating: Prescott -104.2; Burrow -108.3
- Completion Percentage: Prescott – 68.4%; Burrow – 70.4%
They match up well in many of these categories. But it is important to remember that Burrow had a tougher schedule towards the end than Prescott. The former LSU Tiger also finished the regular season first in the NFL in passing grade (91.2), first in grade against the blitz (93.2), and had the most 20+ yard touchdown passes (13).
When his team needed him to get wins to secure the AFC North, Burrow stepped up. In Weeks 16 and 17 alone, the Bengal had 971 throwing yards, eight touchdowns, and a 145.6 average QB rating. This is where the problem comes in for Prescott. Yes, the Cowboy went out and had a record-breaking performance against Philadelphia (who played almost none of their starters), but he couldn’t make it happen against the Cardinals. While Prescott struggled, Burrow ascended in the later part of the season.
It’s hard to make a case against either of these guys. When you have a quarterback whose future as an athlete was questioned due to the severity of his injury, the fact that Prescott took the 6-10 Cowboys to 12-5 this year is remarkable. But to have your second year in the league be a year where you comeback from a double injury and you turn your team around for the first time in years is also incredibly special for Burrow.
We aren’t here to say Prescott shouldn’t win this award. However, the fact that the race between these two quarterbacks is as close as it is now compared to where it was five weeks ago just shows how much the Cowboys quarterback faltered towards the end of the season. From the first week of the season, it was Prescott’s award to lose.
The NFL Honors will take place on Feb. 10 just a few days before Super Bowl LVI. Prescott and Burrow will have to wait until then to see who comes out victorious.