The NFL's passing yardage leader after 6 weeks? Still Dak Prescott

Chris Cwik
·3 min read

The NFL’s leader in passing yards didn’t play in Week 6. Though he has played in five games, injured Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott still leads the NFL in passing yards after Week 6.

It’s a close race, but with 1,856 yards, Prescott still leads the league in passing yards. He won’t hold onto that position for long. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan sits at 1,843 passing yards. Ryan could take over as the league leader after his next completion.

Prescott wasn’t going to finish the year as the league leader. He’s out for the season after dislocating and fracturing his ankle in a Week 5 game against the New York Giants. Prescott had to leave that game in the third quarter, making the fact that he still leads the league in passing yards even more impressive. He didn’t even play five full games.

Prescott immediately had surgery after suffering the injury. He thanked supporters for cheering him on, and said he’s ready to start his comeback.

How much will the Cowboys miss Dak Prescott?

Prescott still leading the league in passing despite playing only five games says a couple things about the Cowboys. First off, it hints that Prescott was playing well. Despite throwing the ball a ton, he maintained his yards per attempt and low interception rate. Prescott was on pace to match last year’s numbers, but with far more passing yards — and potentially more touchdowns. That would have set him up for a a lucrative long-term deal if he hit the free-agent market.

It also suggests the Cowboys’ defense is a major problem. The fact that Prescott had to throw so much means the Cowboys needed Prescott to keep them in multiple games. While the Cowboys scored just 17 points in Week 1, the team averaged roughly 38 points per game from Weeks 2-5. The Cowboys were involved in a number of shootouts over that period, and needed Prescott to throw to get them back into games. Even though he did that, the team still went 2-3 with Prescott under center. The defense couldn’t stop opponents.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton gestures after throwing an interception in the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Andy Dalton struggled against the Cardinals on Monday. He threw two interceptions and one touchdown on a 34-for-54 outing that netted 266 passing yards. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

The Cowboys could be in trouble with Andy Dalton

That was also the case during the Cowboys’ 38-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6. The Cowboys fell behind 21-0 in the second quarter, and needed Andy Dalton to throw to rally. That didn’t happen. Dalton threw for 266 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss. The downgrade from Prescott to Dalton was noticeable throughout the contest. The Cowboys not only failed to put up strong passing numbers, but Ezekiel Elliott was held in check with just 49 yards. He also fumbled twice.

While Dalton has been an effective quarterback in the past, asking him to bring the Cowboys back from significant deficits week after week isn’t going to work. Prescott was capable of doing that — and it led to some huge numbers — but that’s not Dalton’s game.

In order for Dalton to have success, the Cowboys’ defense needs to get its act together. Relying on Dalton to put up 40-plus points per week isn’t a recipe for success.

That strategy was barely working with Prescott under center.

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