Troy Aikman: Dak Prescott 'needs to be more accurate'

Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman had some in-depth thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' offensive problems in a 19-16 overtime loss to the Houston Texans in Week 5.

During a Tuesday guest appearance with KTCK-AM in Dallas, the former Cowboys signal-caller and current FOX NFL analyst first gave credit to Texans pass rushers J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney for being "completely disruptive" throughout the game.

Aikman then pointed out a litany of problems, starting with the Cowboys attempting to do too much at the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped.

"I thought this before Dak [Prescott] took over at quarterback and I think it now," Aikman told the radio hosts. "Too many times, there's too much communication that's happening from the time they get to the line of scrimmage until the time the ball is snapped."

The Hall of Famer said in some instances, the approach works for an offense that isn't struggling with confidence and is on a roll, attributes that don't apply to the Cowboys.

Dallas enters Week 6 ranked 28th in total offense (307.8 yards per game), 30th in passing (172 yards per game) and 29th in scoring (16.6 points per game). The running game, which ranks fifth in the league (135.8 yards per game), remains the lone bright spot on offense.

"When you're struggling, get up and snap the ball and try to gain some kind of rhythm and tempo within the offense, so that's the first thing I would say," Aikman said. "And then I think on the other hand, they struggle with the strong-side running game, they don't have a tight end that can block the edge.

"So, that limits them in some of the things that they're able to do within their play-action, within their run game to that side, and then as it relates to Dak, yes, he needs to be more accurate with the football."

Prescott hasn't helped his cause with just 961 yards passing through five games, and has posted a 61.8 completion percentage and an 81.4 passer rating. While he has rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, Prescott has just five touchdown passes on the season against four interceptions and a lost fumble.

Against the Texans, the third-year quarterback completed 18 of 29 passes (62.1 percent) for 208 yards and a touchdown against two interceptions to post a 66.5 passer rating.

"I've said for many, many years, as long as I can ever remember when I'm asked, 'Hey, what do you look for first in a quarterback?'" Aikman said. "The first thing I look for is accuracy, because the rest of it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how tough you are. It doesn't matter how smart you are or what a great leader you are.

"None of that stuff matters if you can't put the ball where you have to put it and I've seen too many errant throws in that regard, and then there needs to be a little more anticipation. When there's two deep safeties, you're looking for somebody to take the middle of the field, and that should be your first read if you have somebody who is taking the middle of the field versus those kinds of looks.

"I don't see great anticipation on what a defense is doing and how might I be able to exploit that pre-snap or as the ball is snapped. And then, of course, they struggled running the football as well, which is their identity. So, that's kind of my thoughts after going back and reviewing the film from the other night and where some areas are that they need to be better at."

Perhaps having a true No. 1 wide receiver would help take pressure off Prescott, but the Cowboys have a way to go to improve in the numerous areas Aikman pointed out as problems on offense from last week's loss.

For his part, Cowboys coach Garrett believes Prescott can fix the issues he's dealing with on the field.

"I do believe you can improve in every aspect of your game," Garrett said during a news conference Wednesday. "Certainly some people, when the doctor smacks them on the rear end, they have talents to do certain things. Some of it is throwing accurately. But I do think you can refine all of those things."

The path doesn't get easier, as Cowboys face the Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington Redskins in the next two weeks before a bye in Week 8.

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