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Dak Prescott Avoids Reputation Damage In Playoff Loss

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott, Tony Romo

Although his team lost last Sunday and its championship hopes were crushed, Dak Prescott emerged victorious in the court of public opinion.

Dak Prescott, PackersPrescott has not been blamed for the loss. Most have been encouraged by how well Dak performed despite the pressure of the game and the rising legend of Aaron Rodgers that he was competing against. Prescott managed to avoid any detriment to his reputation despite the team's failure.

In so doing, Dak avoided a label that haunted Tony Romo for his entire career.

Romo earned the "choke artist" tag because of his first playoff game. Despite a decade of fourth-quarter statistics that proved otherwise, Tony could never shake off that label with many in the national media and even some Cowboys fans.

Nobody will ever forget how Romo's first season as the Cowboys starter ended. In 2006, the unlikely hero led the Cowboys back to the postseason for only the second time since Troy Aikman retired. From undrafted to Pro Bowler, Tony Romo had become one of the most compelling figures in recent NFL history.

Tony RomoThe lasting image for many, though, was of Romo fumbling the hold for what would've been a lead-changing field goal during the Wild Card round. The Seattle Seahawks moved on in the playoffs while Romo endured a horrible personal defeat. His comments from after the loss are painful even to read:

"I know how hard everyone in that locker room worked to get themselves in position to win that game today and for it to end like that, and for me to be the cause is very tough to swallow right now. I take responsibility for messing up at the end there. That's my fault. I cost the Dallas Cowboys a playoff win, and it's going to sit with me a long time. I don't know if I have ever felt this low."

Despite the ups and downs of his entire career, Romo ultimately emerged as one of the great clutch quarterbacks of all time. He is among the league's best in all-time fourth-quarter passer rating and total number of comeback wins.

Tony Romo

AP Photo / Tim Sharp

As we have witnessed, though, these statistical achievements aren't enough for many fans and even professional analysts. Those lasting images of fumbled snaps or a few late-game interceptions carry a lot of weight. Perhaps only a Super Bowl victory would have finally provided the counterbalance that Tony Romo needed.

With 302 yards and three touchdowns in last week's playoff loss, Dak Prescott hit two marks that Romo never did in the postseason. Romo never threw for 300 yards or scored more than two touchdowns in a single playoff game.

For casual observers, these are milestone marks that they use to define a "great" performance. Romo's personal body of work in the playoffs is very good; 62% completion percentage, eight touchdowns to only two interceptions, and a 93 passer rating. However, never having that single "big game" leaves the door open for his critics.

Dak PrescottWith the bonus of being a rookie and having had a personally great performance, Dak Prescott kept his name out of the mud in the loss. However, he still walks away with an 0-1 record in the playoffs. Dak may not be facing any backlash right now but that can quickly change.

For now, Dak Prescott is the foundation on which Cowboys fans have placed their hope. But with some still bitter about Tony Romo's departure and a level of success already achieved, Dak's grace period is already over. He won't have the rookie label to shield him anymore and has now set the NFC Championship Game as the next step in his personal progress.

Prescott is now simply another starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. It comes with a lot of perks, but as Tony Romo has lived for the last decade, it also comes with incredibly and even unreasonably high expectations.

Dak may have the jury's favor now, but the trial has only just begun.



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

6 Comments

  1. BeirutWedding

    January 21, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    This is a relatively balanced piece. The reason Romo doesn’t get credit for being “clutch” is because for all his vaunted 4th quarter success, if you don’t tell people how good he’s been, they won’t know. That’s because most of the fourth quarter comebacks he’s had, no one remembers. That fourth quarter comeback he had against a mediocre Minnesota team that the Cowboys shouldn’t have been behind in the first place? Who cares?

    • Jess Haynie

      Jess Haynie

      January 23, 2017 at 9:34 am

      Very fair point. Legends are made and broken by what happens when the lights are brightest. Unfortunately for Tony, these moments have not been kind to him. Some of that has been his own doing, and some of it due to the players around him.

      • Pam Adams

        January 26, 2017 at 12:42 pm

        Romo has been treated extremely badly the whole time he played with the Cowboys! No matter what he has done for this team, he is still dogged because of not winning a SB! Prescott didn’t win a SB either, but is he treated the same way; no of course not! I do not believe he didn’t throw 3 td’s at all. I think that is total BS; now, as far as the 300 yards. He also did not have the caliber of team that Dak has rode on this year. In 2014, when he went to two playoff games, did he not throw 3 td’s or more during that game! One of them should have been a TD’s, but it was negated because of a “Non Catch” call! Murray fumbled, bad calls, receivers dropping balls, etc. are also to be blames for not winning that game. Dak didn’t even win the 1st playoff game, but no one gave him any grief for it, did he? Romo has carried this team on his back, literally and figuratively, but again, no one gives him any credit for that either. No excuses ya can come with excuses the treatment Romo has gotten throughout the years, or how he was treated this year, which horribly! He was thrown to the side, like yesterday trash! Shame on the coaching staff, Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and fans, who are not true fans! I have never been so disgusted with the Cowboys’ fans, staff, Jerry Jones, Steven Jones, etc. for the way he was treated! I have been a fan since 1974, and like I said, I have never been so disgusted of the way Romo has been treated after all he done to keep this team even in the running of winning games!!

  2. XaqFields

    January 23, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Romo had a history of coming up small in the biggest (playoff) games. I mentioned this in another article on another site, but in six appearances, he never threw for 300 yards and he never threw for 3 touchdowns. I’m not trying to belittle all that Romo did, but it is a problem if your QB’s production dips in playoff games. Your team got to the playoffs on a certain caliber of quarterback performance, and they’re not often going to be able to win in the playoffs without similar output from the most important position on the field.

    Dak Prescott, on the other hand, had a playoff performance that was arguably more productive than the majority of his regular season games. I think that bodes well for the future. We should, as Cowboys fans, have aspirations of Prescott being in that “elite” level of quarterbacks because every indication from his first 17 games is that he has that ability.

    • Pam Adams

      January 26, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      I will never get over how Romo has been treated. It makes it extremely hard to continue root for the Cowboys, and I have never felt that way in 40+ yrs. and that is pitiful!

  3. dallas1966

    February 4, 2017 at 2:04 am

    With the Cowboys FO mission to strengthen the defense, Dak will continue to lead the Cowboys, to higher heights, in the neighborhood with Staubach and Aikman. How About Them Cowboys!!

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Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie

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Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!



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Dallas Cowboys

Breaking: Scott Linehan and Dallas Cowboys Part Ways

John Williams

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Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan have mutually agreed to part ways following a tumultuous season that saw the Dallas Cowboys offense finish outside the top 12 three out of his four seasons in Dallas.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Sources: The #Cowboys are firing OC Scott Linehan. Taking their offense in a new direction. An announcement is coming.

Scott Linehan was brought in prior to the 2015 season and saw his offenses finish 31st, fifth, 14th, and 22nd in his four years as the Cowboys play caller. The 2015 season can be excused as the Cowboys rolled out Kellen Moore, Matt Cassell, and Brandon Weeden for 13 starts after Tony Romo was injured twice during the season, but the team 2-11 in those 13 starts and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs despite a strong performance on the defensive side of the football.

The Cowboys saw an offense that finished fifth in the NFL in points in 2016 decline each of the last two offseasons and Linehan has been continually criticized by analysts, fans, and players as well.

Many believe that the reason that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler weren't brought back in the offseason was because of the public criticism of the offense and the play caller instilling the offense and that criticism has carried over to this season when Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper acknowledged that the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting on the slant routes that they had run all game. Dak mentioned that he changed Amari's route to a go route, which led to a 75 yard touchdown that helped open up the offense.

Cole Beasley has been frustrated with his role for much of the season and deservedly so. He was often non-existent in the offensive game plan until the final five minutes of football games.

In the running game, the offense had become too predictable and reliant upon jumbo formations that led to Ezekiel Elliott having to run against eight in the box anywhere from 25-30% of the time. For perspective, Todd Gurley only ran against eight-man fronts around eight percent of the time. Scott Linehan never looked to attempt to take players out of the box, instead insisting on motioning more players into the box for the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott to run against. It's amazing when you think about it, that Ezekiel Elliott was able to win the rushing title when facing loaded fronts as often as he did.

This was a move that needed to happen and the Dallas Cowboys didn't need to waste anymore time to make it happen. The offense had become stale and frustrating for the players as well as the fans. While Jason Garrett started the offseason saying he "didn't expect any changes," this was a move that absolutely had to happen for the offense to take a step forward. Below, you can read Jason Garrett's announcement on the move.

Mike Garafolo on Twitter

Cowboys have fired Scott Linehan

Even after the move for Amari Cooper, the offense looked better, but it still struggled at times to move the football.

The Cowboys have a young team with especially young players on the offensive side of the football. They have a quarterback who can throw from the pocket, but has excellent movement skills and capabilities of throwing the ball on the run. He's an excellent runner on designed runs. Despite us knowing all that, Scott Linehan looked reluctant to use him on designed quarterback runs that weren't read options or speed options. What you saw on designed runs in the Seattle game is what this team should be doing five times a game.

Now the question becomes, who should the Cowboys next offensive coordinator be? Our own, Staff Writer Brian Martin, laid out 5 Options to be the Next Offensive Coordinator earlier this week. I suggest you give it a read.



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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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