With Dak Prescott more than a year removed from the fractured ankle that wiped out the end of his 2020 season, the Dallas Cowboys want to get the quarterback on the move in 2022.
Coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday that after Prescott was limited coming off the injury last season, Dallas is planning to insert more QB runs and designed movements into the offense.
"I think like anything, this is year three in the offense and the opportunity to move more potentially than he did in the past, as far as what he's being asked to do," the coach said. "I think he's clearly, the thing that jumps out to me, is his movement ability in the scramble drills and scramble situations. The way he activates scramble drills. He's gotten more reps at it, it's more natural to him, so he looks really good."
The humorous aspect of Prescott running more is that the Cowboys' season ended in the playoffs on an ill-fated QB draw with 14 seconds remaining and zero timeouts against the San Francisco 49ers.
McCarthy noted the club consciously tried to limit Prescott's runs.
"I think we tried to be smart," he said. "I think it's obvious we didn't call as many quarterback runs than probably prior. So, there wasn't as many in the game plan. I think we tried to be smart when we used him."
For the first five years of his career, Prescott averaged 5.1 yards per attempt on 259 rushes with 24 touchdowns in the regular season. Last season, he averaged just 3.0 yards per carry.
In 2021, excluding kneel-downs, Prescott rushed the ball 35 times for 157 yards and a TD, per Next Gen Stats. Of those, 17 were designed rushes that went for 53 yards -- including the season-ending 17-yarder. In 2019 he had 19 designed carries for 122 yards and a score. Those figures were 32 totes for 128 yards and six scores in 2018.
Prescott's ability to threaten the defense with his legs would continue to open up McCarthy's offense.
Beyond straight runs or scrambles, McCarthy suggesting rolling Dak out of the pocket to throw would also help the offense, which struggled to block for stretches in 2021.
Last year the club called a designed roll-out 7.7 percent of the time, 10th-most among QBs with at least 400 pass attempts, per NGS. Before breaking his ankle in 2020, McCarthy's first season with the club, Prescott's designed roll percent was 9.5.
Despite limitations, Prescott threw for 4,449 yards and 37 TDs with 10 INTs in 2021. The main takeaway is that getting further from the devastating injury of 2020 brings higher expectations for Dak in the Cowboys' offense.