Dak Prescott not proud of INTs, but not changing his game

FRISCO, Texas -- Dak Prescott's improvement as a passer is evident.

The Dallas Cowboys have the top-ranked offense in terms of yards, and Prescott is averaging 312 yards passing per game. His 11 touchdown passes are tied for second-most in the NFL. He is on pace for a franchise-record 5,139 yards passing and 35 touchdown passes.

From the midway point of the 2017 season through the first six games of 2018, passing for 200 yards in a game was something of a chore. Reaching 300 yards was an anomaly.

Credit the arrival of wide receiver Amari Cooper via a trade from the Oakland Raiders, the growth of receiver Michael Gallup, the additions of receiver Randall Cobb and tight end Jason Witten this season or the promotion of Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator, but Prescott deserves the bulk of the credit for his improvement.

As well as Prescott has played in five games, there has been a downside with six interceptions. Only four starting quarterbacks have more.

Prescott is on pace for 19 interceptions, which would be the most for a Cowboys quarterback since Tony Romo had 19 in 2013.

In his first three seasons, Prescott threw 25 picks with four his rookie season and eight last season.

"It's not something I'm proud of, it's not something I like to see, regardless of if it happens for this reason or that reason," Prescott said. "Ball security, job security is something I've always said and always believed in. It's not fun turning the ball over."

Prescott has been intercepted in four straight games. Before this season, he never had an interception streak of more than two games.

But not all interceptions are created equal.

Two of his interceptions came off the hands of Cobb and Cooper. One came on a Hail Mary at the end of the 12-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 4. His third interception in last week's loss to the Green Bay Packers came after Gallup was knocked around by cornerback Kevin King at least twice before the pass.

"If you just look at the specific plays, that's really how you have to evaluate it," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.

That does not absolve Prescott completely. The quarterback understands the interceptions will go in his stat column, but he knows he can't go into a shell and play too carefully.

"I'm not going to change the way I play this game," Prescott said. "I'm confident in where I'm at. I like where I'm at, so I'm not going to change that up. I've got a lot of confidence in what I can do. A lot of confidence in these guys making plays, whether it's 50-50 balls or just putting it in a tight window, knowing they're going to go get it. It's their ball or it's no one's. Doesn't change anything for me."

Moore doesn't want Prescott to change either, believing Prescott is more the quarterback of his first 51 games than the past two.

"You don't want to let anyone start playing passive," Moore said. "You're not going to be able to play quarterback very well if you're playing passive, throwing just checkdowns and all that sort of stuff. We acknowledge it. We move on, and I think he's in a good place."

How the Cowboys attack in the passing game has changed some, too. They take more shots down the field, as evidenced by his 9.4 yards per attempt, which is tops in the league. In his first three years, he averaged 7.4 yards per attempt.

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has a saying for his players -- see a little, see a lot; see a lot, see little -- that is applicable to the offensive side of the ball, according to Garrett. As Prescott has experienced more, he can view the game differently from his first few seasons.

"Really it's about knowing what to see. If you're trying to see everything, you don't have a clear understanding of what your vision progression is, you're going to have a hard time functioning as a quarterback in the league," Garrett said. "This whole thing you go through once you break the huddle, about where your eyes should go just in general on non-specific plays, and if you're pretty clean with that progression -- typically good things happen.”

For the most part in his career, good things have happened for Prescott. The Cowboys are 29-5 when he does not have an interception since becoming the starter in 2016.

"At my position you've just got to let them go, keep moving forward," Prescott said. "That's the great part about this position. You get the ball in your hands the next play. You've got to put that behind when things like that happen again."