Last year Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was on pace to obliterate the NFL passing yardage record before a leg injury ended his season in Week 5. This year Prescott hopes he isn’t passing so much.
“I don’t want to throw for 6,000 yards, to be honest with you,” Prescott said, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. “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. Sure, it would be great to have those numbers and to break that or to have that record or whatever it is. But it’s not something that I put in my head. As I said, I want to be the best offense in the NFL, and I think the best way we can do that is if I’m not throwing that many yards, and our run game is working, and we’re playing complementary football, and we’re winning a lot of games. And I think if that’s the case, then 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.”
Through the first four games of last season, Prescott had 1,690 passing yards, which would have put him on pace for 6,760 yards in a 16-game season, or 7,183 yards in a 17-game season. Those are preposterous numbers; the all-time record for passing yards in a season is 5,477, by Peyton Manning in 2013.
But Prescott is right that he was on such a lofty pace because the Cowboys were losing late in games and he was passing a lot to come back: Prescott had more yards in the fourth quarter last season than in any other quarter, and the Cowboys trailed in the fourth quarter of every game he started.
It’s not that the Cowboys need to run the ball a lot for their offense to be effective, but if the Cowboys are winning late in games, they’ll keep the ball on the ground to run out the clock. That will result in Prescott throwing for fewer yards, but it will be an indication that the Cowboys are where they want to be, winning games in the fourth quarter.