FRISCO, Texas -- Early in the 2023 season, the Dallas Cowboys offense and quarterback Dak Prescott began their first season with head coach Mike McCarthy calling plays, and the change didn't click right away. Now, entering Week 13, the Cowboys lead the NFL in scoring offense (31.6 points per game) and Prescott's +700 odds to win the 2023 NFL MVP award rank as the fifth-best in the league, according to Caesar's Sportsbook.
Prescott trails only 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy in completion percentage, passer rating and expected points/added per play among qualified quarterbacks this season while ranking behind only Bills quarterback Josh Allen in touchdown passes and Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson in touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Dak Prescott stats in 2023 season
|NFL QB RANK
|Expected Points Added/Play
Prescott leads all NFL quarterbacks in Pro Football Focus' offensive grades (92.1) and passing grades (90.8) this season. In the 45-10 victory Week 12 against the Washington Commanders on Thanksgiving, Prescott completed 22 of of his 32 passes for 331 yards and four passing touchdowns, with two of them traveling over 30 yards: a second quarter touchdown to wide receiver Brandin Cooks of 31 yards and a fourth-quarter scoring strike to wide receiver KaVontae Turpin, which giving him the highest-graded game by any quarterback in 2023 and the highest single-game grade by a quarterback since 2007.
Why is Prescott playing like an NFL MVP in his eighth NFL season at age 30? Well besides some of the on-field, football answers like wide receiver CeeDee Lamb is , the Cowboys offensive line finally has continuity and Prescott and the offense have fully adjusted to McCarthy's playbook and play-calling, there's a big off-the-field answer to that question: Prescott and his girlfriend Sarah Jane Ramos are happily expecting their first child together.
"It's the dad strength that's why I'm playing that way," Prescott said Monday. "Yeah, sure, it gives credit to everything around this team, the organization, the coaches, people just handling their business, being prepared, our process has been amazing throughout this season, just when the game plan comes in, how early it gets in, and the process we go through after that to be ready to call a game. The play caller's purpose is clear and precise on everything. Just really, the challenge is just staying true to that process, not getting ahead, not getting overwhelmed, understanding that what I say to myself is I haven't done shit, you know what I mean. Regular season, numbers are great, getting wins, that's what's most important. But at the end of the day we're trying to stack and keep growing this team to get better each and every week."
While he may have initially wanted a boy, Prescott has fully embraced becoming a girl dad and having the chance to honor his late mother Peggy, who died of colon cancer in 2013, by raising an eventual young woman with the Prescott name.
"Super exciting. It really is," Prescott said grinning from ear-to-ear when asked about becoming a father. "I actually wanted a girl, part of it I think was not to get excited for a boy No, I did want a girl. I do. I'm blessed. Thankful. Everyone knows what my mom means to me, being able to raise a little girl, I'm excited for the challenges. It's not going to be easy, especially being my daughter or being a Prescott, but I'm looking forward to every bit about it... .. I was pumped. As I just eluded to, God's timing. Blessed, super blessed to have that responsibility, but at the same time to have the opportunity to start a family and bring a child into this world. I know what my mom meant to me, means to me, and to be able to, in a sense, have that feeling in a different role is something I'm looking forward to, my family is looking forward to. I'm blessed."
The timing of this announcement, however, has nothing to do with Prescott coincidentally playing some of the best football of his career at the moment, but rather that his girlfriend and mother of his child wasn't going to be able to hide her baby bump in pictures much longer.
"We've known for a long time what [gender] we were going to be having," Prescott said. "Just to be honest and candid, I wasn't waiting for any particular time, you know what I mean. I think people who know me, there are people who have known, knowing people around me. It hasn't necessarily been a secret, but more than anything, for me, it's about protecting her [Ramos] and understanding fans can be fans. There's no reason for them to be bothering her, for her to get the nasty messages that people want to send me that I deserve and no one else does. I think that's part of it. I think ultimately, the main reason, was yes, she was tired of hiding it in pictures, I guess. Now it's getting…the bump is a little bit too big and hard to hide. [I'm] Happy."
Given Prescott has never been happier during his time in the NFL, he acknowledged the current 2023 season is the one in which he has played the most freely and with the best work-life balance.
"Yeah, you can definitely say it [having a baby] would have been harder earlier in my career," Prescott, now 30 years old, said of becoming a father. "It comes with growth, with growing up. It comes with life. Something I'm super excited about, super blessed. I can't imagine, honestly, being in this position, being blessed like this earlier in my career. God's timing is everything. But also, I credit [my girlfriend] Sarah Jane in the sense of allowing me to focus on what I want to, especially knowing what this means to me. That's who deserves a lot of credit for me being able to balance this."
He has done more than balance his play this season: Prescott is out-performing his 2021 season production through his first 10 games of 2023, which is notable since he set the Cowboys single-season passing touchdowns record with 37 that year.
"No, I mean, it means I'm playing well. Simple as that," Prescott said when asked about having his name in the NFL MVP conversation and if that means anything to him. "Not really. I'm about one goal, and it's a big team goal [the Super Bowl]. I know if my name's in there that means we're playing well. So that's great. But at the end of the day, we're just trying to build. I mean being eight years into this thing, it's about building and building and making sure we're getting better and better each and every week and getting hot right when we need to be."
Dak Prescott first 10 games (2021 vs. 2023)
|Expected Points Added/Play
- * Top five in NFL
- ** Set Cowboys single-season pass TD record with 37
While two-time First-Team All-Pro linebacker Micah Parsons can't give Prescott much advice on throwing the football, he is well-equipped to share some parenting tips as a father of two, a son and a daughter. His advice centered around how to best prepare for the early stages of children who can struggle with sleeping through the night.
"For Dak, here we go," Parsons said while laughing Monday after mimicking Prescott's pre-snap cadence when asked what parenting advice he would give his quarterback. "I would say 'have that guest room ready.' Because I love my daughter to death but when she sleeps with me, and she's waking up at 3-4 in the morning wanting that bottle, have that guest room ready. Set everything up in the guest room. Do what you got to do. You just got to make sure you have that extra bedroom ready because there's going to be a lot of sleepless nights and your days off aren't really days off any more. Be very, very prepared."
Fortunately for Prescott, he said his baby's due date is expected to be in March, so the first few months of his daughter's life will not coincide with football season. That will provide the Cowboys quarterback plenty of time to prepare to perfect the balancing act of leading an NFL franchise and being a dad.