Troy Aikman is about as qualified to speak on the current woes of the Dallas Cowboys passing game as anyone on Earth. He is their former quarterback. He is the lead analyst for the Fox NFL broadcasting team. He is even a former teammate of Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett. So when he questions the accuracy of Dak Prescott as a passer, his words should carry serious concern.
But Garrett doesn’t see it that way. In fact, according to Stefan Stevenson of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Garrett argued with Aikman’s words by relaying a story about the Hall of Fame quarterback. When the two were assisting at a football camp and a child struggled to throw the ball, Aikman apparently told Garrett that “when these kids are born, some guys can throw it and some guys can’t. I’d move him to wide receiver.” He is essentially arguing that quarterbacks are born, not made. That is a notion that Garrett doesn’t agree with.
“I do believe you can improve in every aspect of your game, certainly some people when the doctor smacks them on the rear end, they have talents to do certain things. Some of that is throwing the ball, some of that is throwing accurately. But I do think you can refine all of those things,” he said. “I think a lot of it has to do with footwork, getting yourself in a really good position to throw. Troy was a great example of that. I think as his career went on you saw him become more and more accurate because he just refined his technique.”
Statistically speaking, Garrett may have a point. Aikman completed only 52.9 percent of his passes as a rookie. By 1993, he led the NFL by completing 69.3 percent of his passes. Two years later, he had a league-best 1.6 percent interception rate. Aikman absolutely did improve as he grew older. But the same has not been remotely true of Prescott during his career.
His completion percentage plummeted from 67.8 percent as a rookie to 62.9 percent last season, and has since fallen further to 61.8 percent this season. His quarterback rating has followed the same trajectory. His interception rate has grown in each of his three NFL seasons. Aikman followed the trajectory of most NFL quarterbacks because his team followed a typical trajectory. It improved as he did.
But Prescott joined a dominant offense, and that dominant offense masked his deficiencies. Now Prescott is playing on a more typical NFL offense (albeit with an atypically bad group of wide receivers), and his numbers have fallen accordingly. Prescott certainly has the capacity to improve, but it would be naive to ignore what’s happening right in front of our eyes right now. He is not the superstar quarterback he once looked to be.