'Here we go!': Why Cowboys' Dak Prescott uses unique snap cadence

You don't even have to be an attentive Dallas Cowboys fan to have heard it.


This is the start of the cadence quarterback Dak Prescott uses before he initiates offensive plays for the Cowboys. And, with the precision and clarity of sideline microphones and with the booming nature of the way Prescott yells the cadence, you also don't need to have the volume on your TV cranked up to hear it.

Prescott has been using it all season long, but the cadence gained traction on social media after millions of Americans tuned in on Thanksgiving, when the Cowboys thumped the Washington Commanders. Then, when Dallas played in Week 13's Thursday night prime-time game against the Seahawks, a Cowboys victory, fans were on the lookout for the cadence.

Prescott, who remains in the MVP conversation, hasn't said much about the cadence publicly for obvious reasons; doing so would potentially give opposing teams an advantage.

Nov 30, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) gestures at the line of scrimmage during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) gestures at the line of scrimmage during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Here's everything to know about the "Here we go" cadence Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys use.

Dak Prescott snap cadence

It's a bit unclear why Prescott specifically uses "here we go," but it's proprietary to the way Dallas wants to run its offense. Perhaps better said: Prescott and the Cowboys have several pieces of information embedded into the pace, tone, rhythm, combination of words, number of times the cadence is used, order of the words and so on. The cadence is a way to convey this information to the other offensive players in a prompt and efficient way after they have already lined up in formation.

The "Here we go" cadence was a new addition this season, after former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and the Cowboys mutually parted ways this offseason. Head coach Mike McCarthy took over the offense and play-calling duties.

The Cowboys, like any other NFL team, can also change the different meanings embedded within the cadence from one week to the next.

During the 2023 season Prescott typically started his cadence with a couple of variations: "Yeah! Here we go," or simply "Here we go."

Then he'll typically follow that with a pause – sometimes one that's a fraction of a second – and will (most often) use the words "White-80 set," which can be the prompt for the center to snap the ball. He often shouts the "white-80 set" part very quickly.

Because Prescott is an eight-year veteran with extensive knowledge of NFL offenses, the Cowboys have the ability to call two plays in the huddle, a primary one and a secondary one. As Prescott goes through his cadence, if he doesn't like the look the defense is giving Dallas for the primary call, he may shout "Kill" at the line of scrimmage, to convey to the other players that he wants them to run the secondary play. This isn't unique to the Cowboys and is common practice for veteran quarterbacks.

The wrinkle in all of this is that there can be dummy language inserted into cadences with no meaning whatsoever, with the intent to throw the defense off and not reveal any patterns.

What is the purpose of a cadence in football?

Essentially, a quarterback's cadence is the group of words used at the line of scrimmage during the moments right before the ball is snapped. It is the signal that tells the center when to snap the ball, though that's still a bit too simplistic; the cadence also helps set the timing of the offensive play so that all players know when to begin moving into their assignments. Variations in the language can also communicate adjustments at the line of scrimmage that the quarterback wants the players to make.

For example, there are often colors and numbers used in cadences and, depending on which ones are said, they could be directives to the running back to slide one way in pass protection or for receivers to adjust their route. It depends entirely on the function the offenses want to give the words.

Teams use very different variations of words tailored to their offensive operation.

What did Aaron Rodgers say about Dak Prescott?

Since Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback of the Jets, has been injured with a torn Achilles sustained in New York's season opener, he has been watching more NFL football this season. During an appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show," Rodgers was asked about Prescott's use of the "Here we go" cadence.

Because Rodgers played under McCarthy in Green Bay from 2006 until 2018, when McCarthy was the head coach for the Packers, he has intimate knowledge of the way McCarthy is conducting Dallas' offense.

"I just love that he’s really playing the position," Rodgers said Tuesday. "What I mean by that is, I’m watching him make Ringo calls — so that’s protection adjustments against these crazy looks and picking things up. I’m watching him bring the tight end back in against zero pressure and throw an old concept we used to run, for a touchdown to CeeDee Lamb in the back of the end zone. I’m watching him use his cadence beautifully and get into this rhythmic 'Here we go,' using it as a dummy sometimes doing it twice into like, other cadences.

"The last four or five weeks I've gotten to see more of their games and I just want to say: He's playing the position in a really impressive way."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dak Prescott snap cadence: Why Cowboys passer shouts 'here we go'