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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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Report: Dallas Cowboys to Sign Free Agent Wide Receiver Brice Butler

John Williams

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5 Bye Week Adjustments Cowboys Hopefully Made

The Dallas Cowboys look to be making a move at the wide receiver position as they attempt to bring some life to the position. No they aren't trading for Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon, but bringing back former Wide Receiver Brice Butler.

According to a report from Saad Yousuf from The Athletic, the Dallas Cowboys are set to resign the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver but first have to release someone from the 53-man roster.

Saad Yousuf on Twitter

Cowboys officials are in the process of signing wide receiver Brice Butler, multiple sources tell @TheAthleticDFW. The team has to make a roster move to bring Butler onto the 53 and is trying to decide whom to release to make room for Butler before a final decision is made.

Brice Butler was signed in the offseason by the Arizona Cardinals but was released after training camp. It was a surprising move for the Cardinals. They don't have a ton of wide receiver depth aside from future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald.

Butler's caught 73 passes on 133 targets for 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns in his five career. In 36 games with the Dallas Cowboys Brice Butler caught 43 passes on 81 targets for 794 yards and six touchdowns. In his time in Dallas, he averaged 18.5 yards per reception.

He never really got a lot of playing time with the Dallas Cowboys who had Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten on the team for the duration of his time in Dallas. The Cowboys coaching staff placed a higher premium on Terrance Williams' run blocking than Butler's big play ability.

To the coaching staff's credit, Butler was never a consistent enough player to be relied upon week in and week out. In 2017, his last season in Dallas, Brice Butler was never targeted more than three times a game and he never caught more than two passes a game. Butler, however, only played 24.51% of the Dallas Cowboys' offensive snaps in 2017.

If the Dallas Cowboys do make this move it's at a curious time. Sources tell 247 Sports' Mike Fisher that the Dallas Cowboys have zero interest at the moment in Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon. You'd think their lack of interest would be because they still like the wide receiver room as it is.

If they do complete the signing of Brice Butler, you'd have to expect that Deonte Thompson would be the wide receiver on the chopping block. They cut him at the end of the preseason and then brought him back during week one.

This signing is unlikely to have an impact on the Dallas Cowboys week two matchup with the New York Giants, but will probably be completed early Monday to get Butler to Frisco to begin preparing for their week three matchup.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

I don't think this is a move that makes a lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. They've been down that road before and haven't received the results they wanted. Brice Butler does offer some big play ability, but it was thought that is why they brought in Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin. Is it possible the Dallas Cowboys are already down on those two players after one game? They wouldn't be bringing Butler back if they didn't have plans for him.

Good or bad, do you think bringing Brice Butler back is the right move for the Dallas Cowboys?



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Cowboys, 49ers Are WR Josh Gordon’s Preferred Teams in Trade/Free Agency

Sean Martin

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Cowboys, 49ers Are WR Josh Gordon's Preferred Teams in Trade/Free Agency

It's Sunday morning and the Cleveland Browns are expected to make a questionable decision by tomorrow, which is far from news for a Dallas Cowboys team waiting around for a crucial Sunday Night Football home game tonight. With Cleveland expected to part ways with troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon though, the Cowboys have understandably been linked to Gordon, even more so now with the talented pass catcher stating his own interest in America's Team.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

As teams discuss potentially trading for outgoing #Browns WR Josh Gordon, I'm told he's got his eye on two in particular: The #Cowboys and the #49ers.

Before looking into this any further, it's necessary to point out an all-important missing detail. Without any reports of the Cowboys own interest in Gordon, the soon-to-be free agent is simply the latest player to say he'd like to play for the Cowboys - hardly anything new for the Jones.

The Cowboys need for a player like Gordon has never been more evident though. Heavily criticized throughout the offseason for how they handled their wide receivers, the Cowboys passing game was a non-factor in the team's 16-8 week one loss.

Signing or trading for Gordon could do little to fix this, but the risk may also prove worthwhile for Dallas. The Baylor Bears product did put up 1,646 yards in 2013 with minimal talent around him, and has a career 17.3 yards per reception.

His ability to take the top off a defense is something the Cowboys are sorely missing. What they won't miss from not acquiring Gordon is the off-field trouble, taking on a player that missed all of 2015 and 2016 due to suspension.

Last season,  Gordon was reinstated for the Browns final five games.

The NFL is, at least cautiously, easing their policy on players suspended for marijuana usage. Look no further than the Cowboys own Randy Gregory to prove this, as Gregory has already become a success story for the league by being with the Cowboys this season.

Whether or not Gregory plays on Sunday night (officially listed as DOUBTFUL) after suffering a concussion in his long-awaited return last week is yet to be determined. So too is Josh Gordon's future as the latest player on his way out of Cleveland.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

From @gmfb Weekend: The #Browns plan to release Josh Gordon after he showed up late, injured his hamstring during a photo shoot, and in general completely lost their trust. https://t.co/cX2HGZPBXi

I'm of the belief that Gordon won't last long on the open market, meaning this won't be the latest Cowboys story/non-story to drag through the presses. Any fan looking to pass time between now and kickoff against the Giants could probably find me saying the same about free agent WR Dez Bryant however.

Thanks to Bryant still being a free agent along with former Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey, the team has looked smarter than expected in the long-term on moves like these.

If there's a smart way to bring on Josh Gordon, Dallas should be considering that too.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys, 49ers Are WR Josh Gordon’s Preferred Teams in Trade/Free Agency" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Is Dak Prescott’s Relationship with Scott Linehan Broken?

John Williams

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Is Dak Prescott's Relationship with Scott Linehan Broken?

As the final whistle sounded last Sunday with the Carolina Panthers coming away victorious over your Dallas Cowboys, it was pretty clear there were a lot of things wrong with the offense. Many pointed to Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan and the play calling. Others to the offensive line. Others to Quarterback Dak Prescott. And others to the wide receivers.

There was plenty of blame to go around in an offensive performance that left Cowboys Nation struggling for answers. Simply put, there wasn't much good from that side of the football in their 16-8 loss. 

Well, as this week has gone on in preparation for the New York Giants Sunday night, there have been answers to questions from within the organization that make me, an outsider, feel really awkward about the relationships inside the organization. Particularly on the offensive side of the football. 

There was this from Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan responding to Troy Aikman's critique of a lack of creativity in the play calling of Linehan.

"People have their own opinions. It's hard to be super creative when you're having loss-yardage plays, to be honest with you. But I thought we had some really good stuff for the game that we couldn't use. But he's entitled to whatever opinion he has about that. It's our job to go out and show him that we have some stuff that maybe he'll be impressed with."

Scott Linehan - via Jon Machota, Sports Day DFW

Then this from Wide Receiver Allen Hurns. 

Brandon George on Twitter

Cowboys WR Allen Hurns on loss to Carolina: "Statistically people are going to say we didn't play well. If you really break down the game, we created separation. That's what you want to do as a wideout.

With Dak Prescott speaking to the media on Thursday, some interesting nuggets of information came out about the communication that takes place on game day between Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, and Quarterback Dak Prescott.

Namely Dak described Kellen Moore as a "mediator" between the quarterback and the offensive coordinator.

“Kellen, I guess you call him the mediator at that point, when I come to the sideline. Me and him talk about what we saw and then he gets on the headset and he’s talking with Linehan. Then he’ll get back to me with what Linehan’s thinking with the plays and stuff that we’re working towards, so it’s been great.”

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback

Count 1310 The Ticket's Bob Sturm as one of many confused by Dak's statement about Moore as the go between.

Bob Sturm on Twitter

Thought it was really interesting to day that Dak said he talks to Kellen Moore and QB coach Kellen Moore talks to Linehan. Linehan doesn't talk directly to his QB during the game. I think that is weird.

It's becoming clear that there is a huge disconnect between the play caller and his quarterback and this disconnect is affecting everyone on the offensive side of the ball.  

Everyone, after one week, appears to be placing blame on someone else, which is really odd to me. Normally, when a unified group of players is asked a question that may lead to finger-pointing, they don't really answer the question.

Above, you can see that Hurns basically said, it wasn't the wide receivers' fault. Linehan, reacting to Troy Aikman's comments about the lack of creativity in the offense, placed the reason for the lack of creativity on the players. And Dak Prescott appears to allude to a really odd communication structure.

It has me wondering, and I'm sure I'm not the only one, if there is a trust issue with the Dallas Cowboys offensive staff and players.

Trust is a very important aspect of any group of people who work together to meet a common goal. Football is no different. As far as team sports go, the NFL requires a strong sense of trust and commitment to one another to make the intricacies of an NFL offense work.

As Preseason Begins, Does Prescott Have a "Go-To" Receiver After All?

Oct 8, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) congratulates wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) after a touchdown in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The coach has to trust that the player he's calling the plays for. If the play caller doesn't trust the players to execute, he's going to be much more conservative than he should be. A play caller who trusts his players will allow them to play and will be aggressive in his game planning and play calling. 

The player has to trust that the play caller is putting the player(s) in the best position possible to succeed. If the players don't trust the play caller, they aren't going to buy in to the offensive scheme. If they don't buy in to the offensive scheme then there may not be the necessary effort put in to see the scheme succeed. 

From the outside looking in, the relationship between quarterback and play caller seems fractured.  It's not a good sign for the relationship of the two men tasked with guiding this offense that there is a mediator involved in their communication. If there is an issue in the relationship that is leading to poor communication, then the Dallas Cowboys leadership structure -- Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Jason Garrett -- need to make a change to better enhance offensive communication.

They aren't going to change quarterbacks at this point in the season. The move they can make that Head Coach Jason Garrett appears unwilling to make, is changing who calls the plays. If the relationship between Linehan and Prescott is such that Kellen Moore needs to act as "mediator," then the time has come to change the play caller. Whether it's Moore who takes the reigns or Garrett who returns to calling plays, the change may need to be made soon to salvage this season. 

Trust is a very valuable resource in any organization. It's the reason that Jason Garrett has remained head coach for as long as he has. The ownership trusts him. 

The lack of trust that appears to exist between Dak Prescott and Scott Linehan is something that not only hurts their relationship, but the chemistry with the entire offense. 

Football may be the greatest team sport in the world. And as such it requires a high level of chemistry . It requires everyone on offense and defense buying into their respective schemes and trusting each other to execute those schemes. 

Obviously a win against the Giants would go a long way toward healing whatever wounds exist between Prescott and Linehan. A loss however could potentially deepen a divide between the quarterback and his coordinator.



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