Daily Focus: Dak Prescott continues impressive preseason

Dallas couldn't have asked for much more out of their rookie quarterback through two preseason games. That, and veterans for the Cardinals and Jets.

| 1 month ago
(Stephen Dunn, Getty Images)

(Stephen Dunn, Getty Images)

Daily Focus: Dak Prescott continues impressive preseason


Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.

Dak Prescott does it again: In the first week of preseason action, Dak Prescott was the best-graded QB in the league. It made for a nice story, but anybody can have one nice game. Against Miami on Friday night he backed it up with a second fine performance. He played 34 snaps and scored four touchdowns, two through the air and two on the ground.

He completed 12 of his 15 pass attempts for 199 yards and a perfect passer rating of 158.3 on a day that wasn’t far short of flawless when it came to his throws. Of his three incompletions, one was batted at the line, one couldn’t quite be squeezed in when running to the sideline and targeting the end zone and the other was a dangerous miscommunication between Prescott and his receiver Lucky Whitehead that could easily have resulted in an interception. Prescott expected Whitehead to cross the face of the defender but he instead balked and tried to sit down the other side of him, causing Prescott to rifle the ball right at the coverage man only to see him fail to come up with it.

That’s one, maybe two minor mistakes in 34 snaps of football, at least of the plays that counted. He also threw an interception on a crossing route intended for Bruce Butler that was always destined for trouble, but got lucky when it was nullified because of a roughing the passer penalty. Statistically it didn’t count and never happened, but it was his one legitimate bad decision of the game, and if he wasn’t already guaranteed the backup job in Dallas after last week, he will be now.

Prescott remains the top-graded QB in the preseason this year with still some games remaining of this week’s action, and his raw numbers for his two weeks of play are beginning to look silly. He has completed over 80 percent of his passes, passed for four touchdowns, and has a perfect passer rating, and that doesn’t count the two scores ad 41 yards he has added on the ground.

He has been under pressure on more dropbacks (16) than he has been kept clean on (15), and is a hair away from having a perfect passer rating under pressure as well (156.3).

As always at this time of year, the caveat is that it is only preseason, but Dak Prescott’s NFL introduction couldn’t have gone much better than it has so far.

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Carson Palmer’s 2015 hangover: Carson Palmer had a legitimate MVP-caliber season in 2015. He was playing at what should have been an unsustainably high level all season long in an offense that led the league in average depth of target at 11.3 yards down field. That’s almost five full yards per attempt further down the field than some QBs, even successful ones, and yet Palmer was still able to complete 63.7 percent of his passes, and throw just 11 picks in the regular season. It all went well until he dislocated his index finger on his throwing hand, and then we saw a collapse of biblical proportions, culminating in the worst playoff performance PFF has ever graded from a QB as the Cardinals were dumped from the NFC Championship Game.

That year was so far outside of Palmer’s career baseline it’s only natural to question how close to that level of performance he can get again in 2016, and so far in preseason his play has been pretty ugly. We have only seen him for 20 snaps this preseason, but already that has been enough to threaten the poorer grades in the NFL at the position, and his passer rating is just 38.9, or two points higher than if he had just thrown every pass at the floor.

Preseason doesn’t necessarily determine regular-season performance, but the Cardinals must be asking themselves if they are going to have the same guy at QB last season that was so implausibly efficient within that offense and was such a big part of their success on offense.

Target Brown among the ARI receivers

Arizona has three big-name wide receivers, but Mike Tagliere says go for John Brown over Michael Floyd or Larry Fitzgerald.

See the whole Arizona depth chart here.

The return of Darrelle Revis: The Jets lost to Washington 18-22, and Geno Smith’s performance was bad enough to seriously ramp up the intensity of the talk that he should lose his backup job to Bryce Petty, but the big news for the Jets was the return of Darrelle Revis to the fold, which he punctuated with a leaping interception in the end zone of a hopeful Colt McCoy pass.

Revis ended his part of the game without giving up a catch, or even being targeted on his 27 snaps, as the pick he hauled in was actually Buster Skrine’s coverage that he was just able to sink underneath and add himself to, but we did see some of the old Revis Island in play.

He may be declining, and might not be best-suited to the old role the Jets asked of him, because the very best receivers in the league these days will cause him problems in ways they didn’t in the past, but Revis is still a very good cornerback capable of impressive plays and good coverage, and is vital to the Jets defense in a way few other players are. For the Jets it was good news to see him out there and showing he can still make plays.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • Don Elretseo

    Here are the past winners of the Preseason Pump Your Brakes Award: 2013 T.J. Yates, 2014 Ryan Nassib, 2015 co winners Colt McCoy and EJ Manuel.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      2012 russel wilson worked out well after a dominant preseason tho, and dak looks like he’s having similar august so far. their game is similar as well

  • crosseyedlemon

    I’m pretty certain Bruce Arians isn’t even remotely concerned about Palmer and a 20 snap sample is totally meaningless for evaluation purposes in any event.

    • PFFSamMonson

      Good for Bruce. But Palmer’s career baseline is far closer to average than it is unsustainable All-Pro of a year ago, so just how far he will regress is a very real concern. Anybody that doesn’t have it has their head in the sand.

      • Bill Doerr

        .
        That’s just bullshit and a lie…. Palmer has excelled in Arians offense ever since he got it down pat 100% half way thru 2013. In 2014 he was on pace to have the season he had last year before getting hurt as he excelled at an Elite level before getting hurt….. Its not as if last season was a fluke , he has been playing at an elite level since the last 8 games of 2013 and did it week in week out last year….

        They had a bad pre-season game and hack writers like yourself are trying to say Palmer n AZ is doomed even though half the starters offensively and defensively were on the bench….safety blanket WR Larry Fitzgerald, Top WR John Brown, Speedster JJ Nelson, His two starting receiving TEs, TE Jermaine Gresham & TE Darren Fells…… That’s a lot to be without. His one INT wasn’t his fault , it was a screen/bubble throw toward the sideline that Brandon Flowers was Blitzing on n he got extremely lucked , it hit him went up in the air n he caught it. The offense didn’t play great , but its also the preseason and it was just a couple series with more than half the starting offense on the bench. All off season Palmer has excelled in camp and looked like the exact same guy.
        Defensively Arizona was without Mathieu, Bethel , Frostee Rucker, Robert Nkimdiche, Ed Stinson, n Alex Okafor. They also sat a ton of 2nd strings ups defensively..
        The week before in the 1st preseason game when Palmer had all his starters except for John Brown , Palmer had no trouble at all driving AZ right down the field against OAK within their 5yd line to score… Its the fucking pre-season , its one bad game where mostly 3rd string scrubs played. I am sure after Palmer puts up another stellar year youll be the 1st to point out your wrong right?? I highly doubt it.
        Arians isn’t worried at all , he has no reason to be , he knows what he has in Palmer. As long as you keep Palmer protected, he can pick apart any defense in the NFL. Arians knows he has both an Elite top 5 offense n top 5 defense. He has no reason to worry.

        • Phil

          I don’t agree with the author but I don’t completely disagree either. Last year Palmer threw for career highs in both yardage and touchdowns (4671-35 TD). To think he will set new career highs by topping those numbers a year older at 37 just seems improbable. Now I’m not saying he’s going to completely shit the bed, I just don’t think with a rookie RT and him setting career highs the year prior that he just won’t duplicate those stats. They have him projected to throw for 4424 and 30 TDs

      • crosseyedlemon

        A career baseline is a valid reference only so long as the factors it’s built upon remain constant. The talent surrounding Palmer now is far better than anything he had earlier in his career so there has to be an adjustment made for that.

  • Bill Doerr

    What a HACK JOB of an article…. Against OAK Palmer drove the 1st team offense right down the field inside OAKs 5yd line and they scored.
    On Friday Night Palmer was without a lot of key starters offensively that included safety blanket WR Larry Fitzgerald, Top WR John Brown, Speedster JJ Nelson, His two starting receiving TEs, TE Jermaine Gresham & TE Darren Fells…… That’s a lot to be without. His one INT wasn’t his fault , it was a screen/bubble throw toward the sideline that Brandon Flowers was Blitzing on n he got extremely lucked , it hit him went up in the air n he caught it. The offense didn’t play great , but its also the preseason and it was just a couple series with more than half the starting offense on the bench. All off season Palmer has excelled in camp and looked like the exact same guy.