On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys laid an egg so big that it looks like the inexplicable and yearly Dak Prescott MVP discussion has gone away... for now.
Don’t get me wrong, Dak is good. He just isn’t the MVP of the league, and — hot take coming (though it shouldn’t be considered one) — he’s never going to be. Ever since winning Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2016, a year where the Cowboys finished with a 13-3 record and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs, Prescott has been one of the MVP favorites every... single... year.
Oddsmakers and the media alike have been champing at the bit to anoint him the next MVP, despite the fact that after four years the team hasn’t come close to the high of 2016, and he’s still yet to receive a single MVP vote.
Three weeks ago, after the Cowboys beat the Patriots in overtime, the topic of discussion on FoxSports1’s Speak For Yourself between hosts Marcellus Wiley and Emmanuel Acho was whether Dak had “cemented his MVP status.”
Cemented? Let me check my calendar real quick. I’m pretty sure that game was only during Week 6.
“He’s cemented himself. He’s cemented his MVP status. On this show it’s facts over feelings. I’m not saying this emotionally. I’m saying this facts-based,” said Acho.
Oh, I didn’t realize it was factual. Now I feel like a fool. My reddened face reveals my true embarrassment. And what has he done in the three weeks since? Surely this isn’t the kind of take that took no time at all to look hilariously bad.
In Week 7, they had a bye. In Week 8, Prescott missed the Cowboys’ game against the Vikings, a game that they won anyway, 20-16, with Cooper Rush playing quarterback. And then in Week 9, in Dak’s return, they were embarrassed by the Broncos at home, at one point being down 30-0. But don’t worry, Prescott got those garbage-time passing yards which makes him the envy of the league, as the game ended 30-16.
Prescott finished 19-for-39, and at one point was 8-for-24. Hardly an MVP performance. That combined with the fact he missed a game, something no MVP has done (except for sitting out the last game because they had the top playoff seed secured) since Steve McNair in 2003, seems to have quieted the MVP talks.
But the crazy thing is, they haven’t been quieted completely. After all that, he’s still tied for sixth in MVP odds at +1100, just barely behind Lamar Jackson who — I hate to tell you — is better at everything. So much so that Jackson even won an MVP.
I bring all this up because I want you to ask yourselves a question. Imagine Dak Prescott had career numbers identical to his current ones — equal winning percentage, equal passing yards, equal number of division titles — but he was playing for Minnesota. Or Cincinnati. Or whatever mid-sized-market team you can think of. Would all this conversation about Dak “cementing his MVP status” be happening if he wasn’t playing for the Cowboys? I doubt it.
The Dak MVP discussion is really just part of the larger, weird obsession that national media has with the Cowboys because they’re “America’s Team,” because they were really good during some time I can’t remember because I wasn’t born yet.
There’s probably also something to be said about how no one actually knows what the MVP award is for. Not only in football, but especially basketball, it’s less an award for the best player and more an award for “best season.” Which… what? In the NFL, it’s largely become a “which quarterback hasn’t won this award yet?” award, and everyone wants really badly for it to be Dak’s turn.
Can people just talk about Dak and the Cowboys the appropriate amount? It’s not going to happen this year because the Cowboys are still 6-2 and are going to coast to a playoff berth atop the terrible NFC East. But next year, once they return to the 9-7 or 8-8 record that has become the Cowboys’ trademark, let’s just treat them like any other average NFL team.