National Football League

What would it take for Dak Prescott to win next year's MVP?

May 11

If you’re wondering who might win the NFL’s MVP award next season, Bucky Brooks has the answer.

"I am 100% confident. In fact, I would take your check down to Vegas and I would put it on the sportsbook and say that Dak Prescott is going to do it," Brooks proclaimed on "Speak for Yourself" on Tuesday. "I would take those odds."

Dak Prescott, the MVP?

The guy coming off a serious leg injury that caused him to miss the last 11 games of this past season? The guy playing for the Dallas Cowboys, a team that had the worst defense this side of the Washington Generals last year?

That’s right, said Brooks. And he went on to say why it could happen, pointing out that Prescott was averaging 371 passing yards per game before he went down with his season-ending injury. 

Brooks also pointed out that Prescott was producing those numbers in just his first year under head coach Mike McCarthy. McCarthy has a history of needing time to jell with his quarterback. In his previous head coaching job in Green Bay, the Packers went 8-8 in McCarthy’s first year at the helm and 13-3 in his second.

And while the Cowboys’ defense was horrendous in 2020, Dallas spent most of the offseason focusing on fixing that issue, bringing in a number of defensive free agents and focusing on that side of the ball in the draft as well, including selecting Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.

In addition to those points, Brooks also expects Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to be in better shape, positing that all of these things add up to an MVP season coming for Prescott.

"Put his name on the trophy," Brooks said. "Dak Prescott is certainly in the conversation to win it, and he will win it when the season is over."

But is this a realistic expectation? To get an idea of what Prescott might have to accomplish, let’s look at what kind of seasons the last five MVPs – all of whom were quarterbacks – produced.

2020: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Key stats: 70.7 completion percentage, 4,299 passing yards, 48 TDs, 5 INTs.

Record: 13-3

Playoffs: Lost to Tampa Bay in NFC Championship game

Notes: Rodgers led the NFL in completion percentage, touchdowns, interception percentage (1.0) and passer rating (121.5). It was his third MVP award, as he also won in 2011 and 2014.

2019: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Key stats: 66.1 completion percentage, 3,127 passing yards, 36 TDs, 6 INTs, 1,206 rushing yards.

Record: 13-2

Playoffs: Lost to Tennessee in AFC Divisional round.

Notes: Jackson was just 22 and in his second season when he won the MVP. He also proved himself a unique dual-threat signal-caller, as he easily surpassed 1,000 yards rushing.

2018: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Key stats: 66.0 completion percentage, 5,097 passing yards, 50 TDs, 12 INTs.

Record: 12-4

Playoffs: Lost to New England in AFC Championship game.

Notes: Mahomes burst onto the scene in just his second season (first as Kansas City’s starter), leading the NFL in touchdowns. He would lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory the following season.

2017: Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Key stats: 66.3 completion percentage, 4,577 passing yards, 32 TDs, 8 INTs.

Record: 13-3

Playoffs: Lost to Philadelphia in Super Bowl.

Notes: Brady showed no signs of slowing down even as he took on his age-40 season, leading the NFL in passing yards for just the third time in his career. His Patriots lost to the Eagles in a shootout in the Super Bowl.

2016: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Key stats: 69.9 completion percentage, 4,944 passing yards, 38 TDs, 7 INTs.

Record: 11-5

Playoffs: Lost to New England in Super Bowl.

Notes: Ryan led the NFL in TD% (7.1), yards per attempt (9.3) and passer rating (117.1). In the Super Bowl, his Falcons held a 28-9 lead entering the fourth quarter before bowing to Brady’s Patriots, 34-28, in overtime.

Takeaways

None of the last five MVPs won the Super Bowl, but since the NFL MVP award is voted on at the end of the regular season, that’s not as important as their regular-season record. To that point, the last five MVPs led their teams to an average of 12.4 wins.

Also, not including Jackson (because he is such a different quarterback compared to the others) they averaged 4,729 passing yards, 42 touchdown passes and eight interceptions.

Can Prescott put together that kind of season? Maybe.

Before he was injured in 2020, Prescott was on pace to pass for 5,939 yards, which would easily surpass any of the previous five MVPs. But he was also on pace to throw only 29 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions, which would not compare favorably.

Perhaps most importantly, the Cowboys were only 2-3 in Prescott’s games last season, which put them on pace to win only six or seven games.

Last year’s numbers from only five games obviously hold limited value. And as Brooks points out, the Cowboys may have improved their roster drastically this offseason.

But in looking at the last five MVPs, you can see just how high the bar is set. 

In other words, the Cowboys have a lot of work to do if they’re going to get their QB to MVP levels.

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