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Benching Dak Prescott Could Have Long-Term Consequences

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott, Tony Romo, Inside The Star

After a few weeks of poor statistics and the Cowboys' first loss since the season opener, Dak Prescott is discovering how fickle some fans and football onlookers can be. He's also finding out just how large a shadow that Tony Romo casts from the sideline.

Cowboys Headlines - NYG 10, DAL 7: Cowboys Offense Ruins Strong Defensive EffortAs you would have expected going into this situation, some are clamoring for Romo to regain the starting job after a bad stretch for Prescott.  Nevermind that the Cowboys went 2-1 during this stretch, but Prescott failing to top 200 yards passing in any of the last three games has folks worried about how he'll perform in January against playoff defenses.

Calling for Tony Romo is a natural reaction. You've loved him for about a decade. He's a veteran who's dealt with the pressure of the NFL postseason. No matter how exceptional a rookie Dak Prescott has been, he's still a rookie.

The problem I have with the "run to Romo" mentality, though, is that it ignores a key aspect of why you have faith in Tony. It's not that he's never had some some real clunker games. Tony's worst game is easily more atrocious than anything Dak's showed us yet.

Romo had the chance to bounce back. He had the opportunity to restore or validate trust because he was out there the next week making plays and getting wins. It's why you believe in him now.

It's the same opportunity that Dak Prescott now deserves. If you want him to one day be mentioned along with Romo, Troy Aikman, and Roger Staubach, you can't undercut him now.

~ ~ ~

Cowboys Headlines - Healthy Tony Romo to Back Up Dak Prescott, According to Jerry Jones 1In 2006, his first year as the Cowboys starter, Romo started to have problems at the end of the season. He lost three of five games, threw eight interceptions, and had passer ratings below 60 in three games. Bill Parcells didn't run back to Drew Bledsoe. He let Tony play through it, and it was a vital part of his development.

In 2008, Romo's play cratered in December yet again. He threw six picks as the Cowboys lost three of four games. They went from 7-5 to an 8-8 team barely missing the playoffs. A Super Bowl-winning QB, Brad Johnson, was on the sideline. But by this point it was clearly Tony Romo's team and the thought of switching to Johnson wasn't even considered.

Fast forward to 2014. The now-veteran Romo led an 11-3 Cowboys into a Thanksgiving game with the Eagles. He had an awful day, throwing two picks, no touchdowns, and only 199 yards, as Dallas lost 33-10. Fears of another late-season slide arose. But Romo, now hardened by past experiences, went on a tear through that December and the Cowboys rolled into the playoffs.

~ ~ ~

The debate about who's better right now between Dak Prescott and Tony Romo is valid. There are certainly situations and opponents that Romo might be better equipped to handle based on his experience. If you're only concern is Dallas winning a Super Bowl this season, then I can understand why you're vexed.

Tony Romo, Dak PrescottIf you'd like to see Dak Prescott and the Cowboys win multiple Super Bowls in the future, though, what happens now matters. Romo got to work through the bad times and deal with failure during a long offseason. Those made him one of the top quarterbacks in football and allowed him to sustain that status.

You can't bench Prescott now. You can't rob him of the opportunity to overcome his own adversity. It's not just how quarterbacks get better, but it's the fire that tempers athletes, other professions, and even people in general. It's a fundamental truth of human existence; growing pains.

I'm not here to tell you Romo couldn't do a better job this year. I'm not ignoring the possibility that Dak's rookie wall could crumble right on top of us.

This is just a warning. A continued backslide from Prescott may cost us in 2016. There's no denying that it.

Not letting him play through it, though, may cost us for a lot longer.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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6 Comments
  • Skidmark Goatcabin

    Totally understand the logic here and to some extent I agree…however, the window is closing on vets like Tony and Witten to get to a SB or NFCCG. Why throw these precious chances away by letting Dak’s ego dictate your decisions. Dak is the future, he will be allowed to work thru things, develop and hopefully lead us for years to come. If you can save the season and gain a championship for players whose careers are in their twilight, why wouldn’t you do that?

    • Chianti Walker

      As with most things in life, football is a “meritocracy”. In order to achieve positive results, then one must work hard. Parents, teachers, and coaches alike tell their pupils that if they work hard enough, then success can be infinite. This in turn, is meant to incentivize. Dak has lead this team to an 11-2 record coming off a very dismal 2015 season and he’s done so at an unprecedented rate for a rookie quarterback. Our two losses on the season have been for less than 4 points. Keeping him in the starting lineup has absolutely nothing to do with some imagined ego, but, rather his long leash is a reward for his body of work thus far. To bench him over a single bad performance sends the wrong message and may motivate Prescott in seeking other options once his contract expires.

      • http://www.PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

        This was very well said! Couldn’t agree more.

      • Daboyzz63

        I would absolutely agree, if it were only one single bad performance. But Dak has struggled against these latest playoff caliber defenses. Which is what you would expect from any rookie quarterback. This weekend, it will be no different and I wouldn’t expect it to be any other way. In fact, they may still win this weekend, but you will see Dak struggle and continue to struggle against top rated defenses. Believe me, I am not saying Dak is not “The Guy”. He will be the face of this team for years to come. But let’s be realistic. This is not a rebuilding year were the Cowboys were without a quarterback. Just two years ago they were knocking on Championship Door and almost went in. Tony Romo gracefully conceded the position due to the stellar performance of a rookie that hadn’t seen the likes of what he is seeing now.
        As stated “football is a meritocracy”
        Meritocracy, (I had to look it up);
        “Advancement in such a system is based on performance measured through examination and/or demonstrated achievement in the field where it is implemented.”
        Dak struggles again this weekend, Tony needs to step back in. In the long run, Dak will be fine, he is an outstanding guy, playing for a great organization, learning from the best.

        • BeirutWedding

          Handled.

    • http://www.PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

      I appreciate the consideration for Tony and Jason, but you’re talking about two guys out of a much larger roster, more players to come, and your entire fanbase. The organization has to think about what’s going to give us the best shot at winning championships for the long-term, not just 2016. Going “all in” on a single season usually comes with a price.

    • BeirutWedding

      I don’t think it’s an ego question with Dak. Honestly, I feel like it’s more of an ego question with Romo. Fans have spent years waiting for Romo to finally quiet the doubters, to end the whispers of “choker” and they want to see that happen. I don’t think it’s going to with Romo, flat out. Not everybody gets a championship. That’s the reality of the NFL. Romo hasn’t played football in over a year. He hasn’t played through two entire games in a row in almost two. The last time he played football, he threw for three interceptions in the first half — and then broke. In fact, none of his games last year were that great. The last minute of the Giants game was amazing but the offense struggled to move the ball before that, they struggled to move the ball the next week against Philly. People forget, the offense hadn’t scored a touchdown before Romo went down. Against Miami, you take away Rolando McClain’s touchdown and the offense only scored seventeen points and Romo threw two picks.

      There’s very little about pro football that is “fair”. Some players get championships and some don’t. When Romo went down, we thought the season was pretty much over. There was very little talk about how this was the very best team Romo’s ever had before that. The line was great but it’s the exact same line that Romo has gotten hurt behind the last three times. Zeke was expected to be really good and he’s been outstanding…not quite as good as Murray though, who set (or tied) a record for consecutive hundred yard games to start a season. It’s Dak who’s been the revelation, Dak who’s changed the expectations for this season since Romo went down with a broken back. Romo might not get a championship ever. But Witten might.

      • http://www.PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

        Another outstanding breakdown of the reality of NFL life. It’s nice to see that not all fans lose their objectivity. Hope you will keep reading and making awesome comments like this one!

  • Russ_Te

    So far DC brass seems to be erring on the side of the future. Evaluate Dak on his whole season. He still has a 102.7 rating.

    I would likewise be concerned about undermining his confidence with a quick hook. Fortunately Garrett was a QB & I bet he has a good horse sense about this issue. If Dak were to regress further, against lesser defenses, you might argue that a spell watching a veteran do it would be a positive for his development. Not right now.

    Dak is rock solid with his temperament – one of his best aspects – and I actually don’t think a benching would devastate him. But I still would not do it until and unless I had to. That’s the only time you’ll have the whole team behind you on the move.

    And you have to look at Romo’s prospects for taking you to the promised land. Rusty, brittle. Good chance that it doesn’t work.

    • http://www.PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

      I think having Garrett as a former QB is an invaluable asset for how this situation is handled. You’re right that his insights into the mentality of the position give the front office a much better grasp of how to handle it.

      And I agree about the risk of going to Romo. Even if he plays great, can he take a hit? Hard to be confident enough in him to risk damaging Dak.

  • BeirutWedding

    I want to say this is a really well thought out piece but I don’t know if that’s valid since what I really mean is I completely agree with this piece. 😀 Which, you know, is different. Still, I completely agree with this piece. Thanks for saying it out loud.

    • http://www.PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

      Thanks for the support!

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Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room

Sean Martin

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Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room 1

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off their most impressive win of the season, keeping playoff hopes alive on the road with a 27-20 victory at the Philadelphia Eagles. Entering the hostile home of the defending Super Bowl champions with three previous road losses already on their record, the Cowboys performance on Sunday night was truly about getting back to their roots. In their second week with Marc Colombo as the Offensive Line Coach, the Cowboys rushed for 171 yards and protected Dak Prescott very well. It was revealed after the game that Frederick was on a coaches headset with Colombo and his new assistant Hudson Houck.

Jane Slater on Twitter

Travis Frederick just told @BenRogers on @1053thefan that Marc Columbo has him on a coaches headset now helping him and Hudson Houck. That's a smart move from Columbo. Smartest guy on the line

The anchor of the Cowboys offensive line since being drafted in 2013, Frederick is regarded as the smartest linemen on the team. It's his mental edge that's made up for a slight lack of size at the position, regarded as one of the worst first round picks in his draft because of this oversight.

Not only is Frederick a welcome addition to the Cowboys brain trust at offensive line, but he did receive some great news on his battle with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) that's kept him out this season. Frederick was placed on injured reserve on October 6th, announcing publicly his GBS diagnosis on August 22nd.

Frederick has a long way to go before he's playing football again, not eligible to do so until week 14 at home against the Eagles. Regaining feeling in his hands is about the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee getting as healthy as possible away from football. If a return to the Cowboys is possible through his recovery, the team would of course welcome Frederick.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Travis Frederick regains sensation in his hands: "There is some light at the end of the tunnel" https://t.co/wvQhB6KUQp

What Frederick has gained in upper body strength, he must remain patient for in the lower body. While pointing out that over 95% of patients make a full recovery from GBS, Frederick is still waiting to feel sensations in his feet.

The Cowboys have been optimistic that Frederick's condition was caught early enough for a full recovery to be probable.

Dallas' schedule doesn't get any easier following their uplifting win. Returning to the site of last year's demoralizing loss at the Falcons, Frederick likely wishes he could make a miraculous return just a bit more this week.

To make matters worse, Left Tackle Tyron Smith did not practice on Wednesday due to back spasms. It's unknown if rookie Connor Williams will reclaim his starting left guard spot on Sunday, or if Xavier Su'a-Filo has earned another opportunity.

Despite the patchwork nature of a Cowboys offensive line once regarded as the best in the league, and still vital to the entire team's success, Dallas has an abundance of hope that Sunday in Atlanta can be much better than 2017. This starts with Frederick's strength to fight GBS and attempt to rejoin his teammates, wisely given some added game day influence on them by Colombo.

If elevating their level of play up front was all it took for the Cowboys to play up to their potential and pull off an upset on prime time last week, the NFC East is certainly still within reach for a team that must now sustain the level of play on offense to match what this defense has given all season.

Tell us what you think about "Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys LB Named NFC Defensive Player of the Week Against Eagles

Jess Haynie

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Leighton Vander Esch
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

You already knew that Leighton Vander Esch, the Dallas Cowboys rookie linebacker, had a great night last Sunday in Philadelphia. Apparently the rest of the football world agreed, and now he's been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

The award is the first of what could be many for Leighton, who has emerged as a defensive leader for the Cowboys. He's been playing more in the absence of veteran Sean Lee, who has been battling hamstring issues all season.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

THE. WOLF. HUNTER. Congratulations to #DallasCowboys rookie LB @VanderEsch38 on being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week! → https://t.co/XeSTt2tIpX

This is the second Player of the Week award for a Dallas Cowboys this season. Kicker Brett Maher won the Special Teams version in Week 4 after going 4-for-4 and hitting a game winner over the Detroit Lions.

The Defensive Player award hasn't gone to a Cowboys since Week of 2017, when DeMarcus Lawrence put up three sacks against the Arizona Cardinals.

Leighton's recognition is also well-earned. He led Dallas with 13 tackles and an interception in a pivotal road victory against a division rival. In what was arguably a "must-win" game for the Cowboys, their first-round pick stepped up and stood out.

A few more games like this, and Vander Esch could be in the running for the Defensive Rookie of the Year. But even above personal accolades, Leighton's play could help the Cowboys make a push in the NFC East.

If nothing else, he's making that first-round pick look smarter every week.



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Legendary Cowboys Quarterback Backs Dak Prescott

John Williams

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Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott's Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark

Things have not gone well for Dak Prescott this season. His play has been up and down and he hasn't given the team or Cowboys Nation much reason to believe that he's the future at the quarterback position for the Dallas Cowboys. Speaking to 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas today, Legendary Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Ring of Honor and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Roger Staubach offered support for the Cowboys current quarterback, Dak Prescott.

Staubach had this to say when asked about Dak Prescott.

Mark Lane on Twitter

Roger Staubach on @1053thefan said #Dak is a part of the problem with the #Cowboys offense, but he is not the problem.

Roger Staubach didn't start in the NFL until the third year of his career and thinks that's a good time for the quarterback to make the jump. At this point, we are 40 games into Dak Prescott's NFL career and we can see some of the things that he's good at as well as some of the things that he struggles with.

As Staubach points out, Dak Prescott has the intangibles that you look for in a quarterback, even if his play hasn't been what you'd want at the position. Roger admits that Dak shoulders some of the blame for the offensive woes of the last 16 games, but realizes that there are  many reasons for the Cowboys offensive failures this season.

Roger Staubach believes that the Dallas Cowboys can win with Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback despite some of the flaws that have crept up over the last 16 games. He's not wrong.

Staubach's pretty accurate in his assessment that there's been more good than bad. If you look at the first 24 games of Dak Prescott's career, he was really good. Through the last 16 games, he's struggled at times. So technically there's been more good than bad. The problem is that over the last 16 games, there's been more bad than good. The NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" league and lately Dak hasn't done much. We can debate all day on how much of the struggles Prescott's faced are on him, but everyone should be willing to admit that some of the struggles are on him.

It's plausible that the confidence in Prescott that Jerry Jones has comes from Roger's belief that the Cowboys can win games with Dak Prescott at quarterback; and they have. In Prescott's career, the Dallas Cowboys are 25-15. Though wins are a team stat and not a quarterback stat, it just goes as evidence that Dak Prescott can be a winning quarterback in the National Football League.

Dak has some flaws, but the offense and its play caller haven't helped Prescott much this season. We should be critical of Prescott because he has a big pay day coming, if you believe Jerry Jones. While Dak has some flaws, he also has some traits that can make him a good quarterback in the NFL with the right coaching situation behind him. 2018 may be running out of time for the Dallas Cowboys and their playoff prospects, but the Cowboys have time before they have to make a decision on Prescott.



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