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Dak Prescott’s on a Tough Road Following Romo’s Difficult Exit

Jess Haynie

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Tony Romo, Dak Prescott

The way that fans react to roster changes is one of the ever-interesting aspects of professional sports. Some are met with glee and others with extreme derision. And then some, like the switch from Tony Romo to Dak Prescott, split fanbases right down the middle.

In 2017 and perhaps for many years to come, a large number of Cowboys fans will resent Prescott and judge him harshly as a result of Tony Romo's problematic exit. Even though all he did last year was go out and play well, Dak will carry the burden of being the guy who "forced Romo out" despite having no say in the matter.

Dak Prescott, Tony Romo

Dak Prescott and Tony Romo

A sample of this was already seen in last year's playoff game. Dak's slow start to the eventual loss against the Packers became a rallying point for bitter Romo fans. They asserted that Romo would not have let the team fall behind 21-3 and created such a deep hole to get out of.

Nevermind that Prescott finished the game with more yards (302) or touchdowns (3) than Romo's ever had in a playoff game. Nevermind that his 63.2% completions or 103.2 passer rating were both higher than Romo's career averages in the postseason.

Nevermind that Tony Romo had a 2-4 record in playoff games.

That is just a glimpse of the rocky terrain that Dak Prescott will have to walk next year, if not longer. His failures will be exacerbated by whatever lingering devotion to Romo, and bitterness over his departure, exists among a segment of Cowboys fans. Sometimes it will be logical, sometimes it won't.

Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott (AP Photo / Mark Tenally)

Prescott is facing a unique situation compared to his predecessors. Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, and Troy Aikman all retired before Craig Morton, Danny White, and Quincy Carter got their turns. The closest comparison is Tony Romo himself, taking the starting job away from Drew Bledsoe midway through the 2006 season.

Bledsoe was not an iconic Cowboys QB, though, having just played one season prior to 2006. Fans were still waiting for a return to the glory days of the 90s and the young, exciting Romo quickly gave them hope of that. He got everyone looking anxiously towards the future.

The irony here is that Dak Prescott was better than 2006 Tony Romo in every conceivable way. He was more accurate, had better judgment, and was more dangerous running with the ball. This was in spite of being a rookie who didn't know he'd be starting until late August. Comparatively, Romo has been getting NFL coaching and practice for three-and-a-half seasons before becoming a starter.

Given that, you'd think the excitement for the Dak Prescott era would be even higher than what we saw with Tony Romo in 2006. But that shows you the power of Romo's legacy and the love fans had for him.

That love, now denied, will create a new challenge for Prescott in 2017 and perhaps years to come. He will be judged more harshly for having been the instrument of Tony Romo's demise, no matter how unfair that is. In the end, he may not win some fans over until he does what Romo never did by getting the Cowboys to NFC Championship Games and Super Bowls.



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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16 Comments
  • Matthew Harrell

    Dak took the keys to the best bus the Cowboys ever had since Romo took over. He promptly drove it in the ditch as soon as he hit the playoff highway. Those arguing Romo would’ve done better v. Green Bay are right. They know this team was far better than any previous broken down jalopy Romo had to push into the playoffs. Romo even beat Green Bay on the road in the playoffs with a lesser vehicle. Yes I say beat because everyone knows Dez caught it. So there is no comparison to Romo 2006 and Dak 2016. Dak got behind the wheel of a Super Bowl machine and Romo first drove a beat up old Pinto. Citing Daks’s stats in his playoff loss and saying “more than Romo ever did in the playoffs”? Please. 1st, no one cares what the QB on the losing side put up statistically. Passing stats are always inflated and irrelevant in a loss. Plus they just don’t matter, you lost. Just ask anyone about Romo’s 5 TD, 500 yard game against Denver. Lost. Yup, no one cares. I’ll take Tony’s stats in his 2 playoff wins over Dak’s loss at home no less any day. One of those wins was a game winning drive. Dak was an amazing backup and especially for a rookie. But it is what it is. People are crazy for making more out of it. Would’ve been a perfect situation with Romo taking over after the bye week and then having young Dak waiting in the wings this season behind Romo. We could’ve had the perfect succession in place and the best 2 QB combo but it was badly mismanaged. Dak did almost as well as Romo would have. But given Romo’s amazing career with mostly junk to work with, fans know last year would’ve been his best yet. And it was his best and last chance to go all the way. Now we have no choice but to hope Dak is even better than last year. And he’ll have to be because last year he was cruising on a 4-12 schedule beating teams with a combined losing record. This year will be the toughest schedule in the league. Good luck, Dak. You’ll need a lot more.

    • Jess Haynie

      It was “badly mismanaged” because the guy you liked didn’t get the job back.

      Also, the assumption that Romo would’ve been better is based on old data. He did not have a great start in 2015 before getting hurt. This gets ignored constantly when his potential greatness last year is mentioned.

      Lastly, the strength of schedule stuff isn’t that meaningful when a team went 13-2 (Week 17 doesn’t count, for obvious reasons). The “combined losing record” was inflated by the Browns, Bears, and 49ers, who were all abysmal. That’s just three wins out of 10.

      The 2017 schedule will be tougher, but so will we. I wouldn’t sweat it.

  • Matthew Harrell

    The real Star and rookie of the year was Zeke. Does no one even realize what Zeke did, running against 8 and 9 man fronts all year? One of the tragedies of the 2016 season was with the 4th overall pick we got possibly a generational RB talent was never paired with our best QB. No one would argue with Romo behind center, defenses wouldn’t have ever dared stack the box against Zeke. The result would’ve been an historic offense. Not just a lucky win streak barley beating teams with losing records. So yes, combine that with the fact that Green Bay had a depleted, pathetic and injury riddled secondary just waiting to be ripped up (like Matt Ryan did the following week) and Romo would’ve won that playoff game that Dak lost.

    • Balkingpoints

      Laughable. Romo was on his last pins. Nobody thinks he is the future, or even the answer last year.

      • Matthew Harrell

        Not laughable at all. Obviously he is not the future but he would’ve done better last season. What were the results? Dak went one and done in the playoffs. So not even a stretch at all to say he would’ve done better.

    • Jess Haynie

      Dallas finished the year with a cumulative point margin of 115 (7 per game), which was third-best in the NFL behind the Patriots and Falcons. So that whole “barely beating teams” thing was just silly.

  • Travis Diggs

    Dak will get criticized his whole career because he’s the black quarterback who forced the almighty white quarterback to retire from America’s team. Romo gets the benefit of the doubt always because he’s the all American great white hope. You win two playoff games in 12 years but he’s treated like a freaking king. Dak statistically outplayed romo in his first playoff game but you can’t tell anybody that because Romo lovers can’t get over him getting replaced by the black guy. Dak will do something Romo never could , win big and it won’t take him 12 years but without a defense it will be the same ol story that it has been for 20 some odd years.

    • Michael Moy

      This is not about race. Don’t create an issue when there’s none. Quincy Carter was handed the job, he just didn’t do anything.

    • Gbear

      Black and white huh? Let’s see Dak is mixed and Tony is latino. Smh

    • Jess Haynie

      I don’t agree with the racial component for the vast majority of fans, though Stephen A. Smith’s comments last week show it’s not a completely ridiculous concept. I think any irrational feelings about this are tied to devotion to Romo, and the new guy would be facing the same backlash regardless of his skin tone.

      However, I do agree with you that Prescott’s career is going to be very similar to Romo’s if we don’t finally get a championship-quality defense.

  • Michael Moy

    You’re comparing apples to oranges. The team is 53 players, comparing records with totally different teams make no sense. The two indisputable facts are: The 2016 O supporting cast was better than Romo ever had; and no rookie QB has EVER won deep into the playoffs.

    • Jess Haynie

      There was very little difference between the 2014 and and 2016 offenses. Zeke may have been a little better than Murray and the offensive line was more seasoned, but I could also argue that Dez and Witten weren’t quite as effective as when they were two years younger. That said, Romo had his best postseason performances that year and was definitely not the reason they fell short.

  • Gbear

    Dak will never be as reckless with the ball as Tony was. Dak is a better fit with the team O concept, Dak is more durable, last season wasn’t an anomaly, he also protected the ball in college. So what if he inherited a good team, he still makes his teammates better and is a fantastic team leader.

    For the dreamers thinking Romo would have won against GB, well maybe, if you could place a protective shield around his body. I saw Dak absorb hits that would’ve crushed Tony.

    • Jess Haynie

      Plenty of Cowboys fans see these things but just can’t get over Romo’s exit yet. Hopefully that will come with time and success.

  • deal with it

    “Dak’s slow start to the eventual loss against the Packers became a rallying point for bitter Romo fans. They asserted that Romo would not have let the team fall behind 21-3 and created such a deep hole to get out of.”
    I remember the Defense having a lot to do with the loss & the 21-3 hole we were in.

    • Jess Haynie

      You are absolutely right, but the offense struggled out of the gates as well.

Game Notes

4th-and-1 Conversions Against JAC Were Hollow Victories for Garrett

John Williams

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Punt Away Chance at Division Lead with Heartbreak in Houston

The Dallas Cowboys' Head Coach Jason Garrett was under fire all week-long after his passive decision to NOT go for it on 4th-and-1 from the Houston Texans 42 yard line in overtime last week. Instead of taking a shot with a really good offensive line and one of the best running backs in the NFL, Garrett opted to punt the ball to a Texans offense that the Cowboys defense struggled to stop -- until it got inside the five yard line that is.

Well, in typical Jason Garrett fashion, in a game in which they were leading from start to finish en route to a 40-7 victory -- that was never really that close -- the Dallas Cowboys' head coach kept the offense on the field on two 4th and 1 occasions. Converting both of them.

The head coach and the rest of the Dallas Cowboys organization may feel vindicated in pulling the trigger in situations that the Dallas Cowboys have been almost automatic in converting since the start of 2016. The reality is there was nothing at risk in the point of the game in which Garrett opted to try to convert the fourth down.

Though they converted on both 4th-and-1 attempts, they were nothing more than hollow victories for the much maligned head coach.

Their first 4th and 1 attempt was late in the first half of the game with the Dallas Cowboys already leading 17-0. They were driving with under two minutes to play in the half at the Jacksonville Jaguars 37 yard line. The Jaguars had only crossed midfield once and hadn't sniffed any scoring opportunities. There was little risked at that point in the game. If you miss on the conversion, the Jaguars would have to pick up at least 26 yards to get into field goal range. At that point in the game the Jacksonville had only picked up two first downs. The Jaguars had only averaged 13 yards per drive on their four first half drives to that point and three of those drives went three and out.

You can make a case that if the Dallas Cowboys missed on this opportunity and the Jaguars took the ensuing possession and scored, it could have had an impact on the outcome of the game. But with the way that the defense completely dominated the Jaguars in the first half, there was little chance of them driving the length of the field to score a touchdown with under a minute to play.

The next time the Dallas Cowboys went for it on 4th and 1 was with 10:22 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Cowboys up 37-7. The game at this point was already decided.

Unlike the week before.

Tony Romo said it best during the broadcast. He talked about the leeway Garrett would have gotten from Jerry Jones had the Dallas Cowboys gone for it on 4th-and-1 against the Texans and missed because Jones is a risk taker (paraphrasing). Now, I know Garrett has been known to take a chance or two at times, think of the Chris Jones fake punts, but there are situations in football that aren't that big of a risk. When you're in opponent territory and have the run game that the Cowboys have, picking up 4th-and-1 is about as sure a thing as you'll find in the NFL. Since 2016, the Dallas Cowboys had gone 18 for 19 on 4th-and-1 situations. Even if they don't make it, the opponent still has to pick up a 2-3 first downs to have a shot at winning the game.

Don't be fooled by what Garrett did on Sunday. He wasn't being aggressive. He wasn't taking the fight to an opponent who was still in the game. He was kicking a team while it was down. The Jaguars had zero answers for the Cowboys on either side of the football. The Cowboys wouldn't have lost the football game if they missed on either of those two opportunities.

If anything, Garrett was just being petty about all the criticism he took this week for declining his offense the chance to keep the ball week five. I've always been a Garrett believer because of the way he gets his teams mentally prepared to play. They rarely have bad games and typically when their backs are against the wall, they respond. On 4th and 1 against the Texans a week ago, their backs were against the wall as a team and he didn't give them the opportunity to respond. Had Garrett had faith in his defense, he would have gone for it because he would have believed in their ability to prevent the Texans from getting into field goal range. He showed a lack of faith in both sides of the ball by not giving the offense a chance to convert and by trying to help the defense with better field position.

I don't believe for a second that Jason Garrett changed his philosophy on those types of calls and I fully expect us to be rather frustrated by another conservative call in the future. Like I said before, these two 4th-and-1 conversions meant nothing in how the game was going to play out. Is it possible that Jerry Jones got in Garrett's ear about taking those kinds of chances to win the game? Absolutely. If we see a similar situation come in the future and Garrett goes for it, perhaps there was a change, but change is a difficult thing. Most humans do not like change and most people don't change.

I hope I'm wrong and this marked a change in the approach of Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff. With their offensive line and the running ability of Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, I don't care if they only convert half of those opportunities, those two are too good with the ball in their hands to not go for it.

Hopefully Jason Garrett realizes that running those two are his best avenue to winning football games and is aggressive on future 4th-and-1 situations. Since I like my life, I'm not going to hold my breath.



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Dallas Cowboys

Report: Jason Garrett “Not Going Anywhere” with Possible Extension Coming Soon

Sean Martin

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Report: Jason Garrett "Not Going Anywhere" with Possible Extension Coming Soon 1

With his 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Jason Garrett's Cowboys did more than enough to silence talks of possible firings on the coaching staff for at least a week. According to a report from Dallas Cowboys Feature Writer Jeff Sullivan, it's possible Garrett has earned much more than this, with an extension for the eighth year head coach looming.

Jeff Sullivan on Twitter

@Markbristow22 Sounds like another extension could be signed soon he's not going anywhere.

The Cowboys have alternated wins and losses through the first six weeks of the season. Thanks to the rest of the NFC East getting off to an equally slow start, the 3-3 Cowboys are still playing for first place this week in Washington.

When considering these marginal victories in the grand scheme of what Garrett has achieved since taking over fully in 2011, the timing to extend him early in 2018 feels peculiar. The Cowboys went 8-8 in Garrett's first three years as he turned the roster over, and in similar fashion his young team has done little to prove they're not on track for a .500 record this year.

Sullivan does go on to explain Garrett's impact at The Star throughout the week, which is often forgotten about once he's in the public eye during game day. The Cowboys comfort with Garrett leading the way still has to be considered alongside the deficiencies of his staff to put players in the best position to win.

Jeff Sullivan on Twitter

@Markbristow22 Six days a week top-3 coach in the league. Just struggles a bit on game days

As their last franchise quarterback said on his way out the door, "football is a meritocracy," where, "nothing is given".

It is widely accepted that the Cowboys coaching staff will be mainly responsible for at least one loss a season. Be it Scott Linehan or Garrett, the Cowboys chance at victory is snatched away from them by coaching annually.

Even with a win at the Redskins this week, it's hard to imagine not bringing up early season defeats in Carolina, Seattle, and Houston, as games the Cowboys missed out on.

The duality of Garrett punting away a chance to win at the Texans last week before leading his team to their largest win since 2014 is simply who he is. Even before the Cowboys took the field for a seemingly tough match up against the Jaguars, Jerry Jones delivered a vote of confidence in Garrett - as he's done before in an offense that finally capitalized on their talent, making 40 points come easy on the league's top defense.

Report: Jason Garrett "Not Going Anywhere" with Possible Extension Coming Soon

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Garrett's current contract runs through 2019. If you believe he's struck gold in Quarterback Dak Prescott, a young passer he hitched his wagon to early in order to survive the post-Romo era, the Cowboys would have a decision to make on both Garrett and Prescott at the same time.

Of course, that is if they're willing to let Prescott play out the final year of his rookie deal before signing an extension, and if an extension of his own isn't coming Garrett's way eminently.

This story has not gained traction with the rest of the local or national media, and that's likely because Garrett still has time in Dallas. Not only has he been afforded an amount of time that some would call unearned, but the time ahead of him makes the idea of a new extension obscene.

Regardless of when Garrett sits down to discuss his future with the Jones', it's become clearer by the day that he'll have their full support behind closed doors. Such is the stability Garrett provides the Cowboys, as well as the mediocrity to never advance past the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

The Cowboys have done nothing so far in 2018 to prove they can be the team that snaps this streak for Garrett, and must first prove that their 40-7 win over the Jaguars was no anomaly. Earning their first win on the road and improving to 2-0 in the NFC East is another way for the Cowboys to take strides towards winning the division.

The Redskins would drop to 0-1 with the loss, and the Eagles have managed just one divisional win against the Giants thus far.

Let's not forget that this is where the team expects to be every year. Even though the 4-3 Cowboys would face far fewer questions about the future for their coaches and tenured players, buying in to Garrett even more after each win, the week-to-week nature of the NFL should have Dallas weary of locking in Jason for a single game past next season.

Tell us what you think about "Report: Jason Garrett “Not Going Anywhere” with Possible Extension Coming Soon" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

Cowboys Defense Stands Out in Blowout Win over Jaguars

John Williams

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Cowboys Defense Continues to Standout in Blowout Win over Jaguars

The Dallas Cowboys defense has found different ways to get the job done at different times during the 2018 season. They're a big reason the team is 3-3 and sits only a half game back of the first place Washington Redskins.

Even last week, I was critical of the defense for giving up a ton of yards and felt like they were very fortunate to only lose by three in overtime to the Houston Texans. They were amazing when the Texans got inside the five yard line forcing a turnover on downs on four first and goal attempts inside the five last week.

After giving up 462 total yards to Deshaun Watson and the Texans in week five, the Dallas Cowboys' defense only allowed 204 to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. They held Jacksonville to 4 of 11 on third downs. The Cowboys forced four three and outs during the game and only allowed three drives to cross midfield.

The Cowboys' defense was led by Leighton Vander Esch with 11 total tackles (7 solo) and Jaylon Smith with nine total tackles (6 solo) and a forced fumble. Jourdan Lewis made an excellent hustle play along the sideline late in the third quarter to recover that Smith fumble.

Byron Jones was excellent in coverage yet again on Sunday and if this were hockey, would get a primary assist for his pass deflection that led to the Jeff Heath interception in the third quarter. The Cowboys were able to turn both turnovers into field goals.

The Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive line blocked the Dallas Cowboys front seven pretty well and Quarterback Blake Bortles was really good at avoiding pressure. Bortles was only sacked three times during the game. Randy Gregory and Maliek Collins each had a sack, while Antwaun Woods and Tyrone Crawford combined for the other sack.

Though he didn't register a tackle or a sack on the stat sheet, it was awesome to see Defensive Lineman David Irving on the field for the first time since the middle of the season last year. He had an impact early in the game. Irving had a pressure on Blake Bortles and forced a hold on a punt in the first half of the game. His presence was definitely felt.

As a defense they held Jacksonville Jaguars Quarterback Blake Bortles to 149 yards passing and a 70.8 passer rating. Even as the Jaguars were down 20 points at halftime, they never could get much offense going in the second half. The Cowboys kept Bortles and the Jaguars passing game in check for most of the night, only allowing a touchdown when Anthony Brown fell down when he released his receiver to try to get to the intended target, Dede Westbrook. Westbrook went relatively untouched into the end zone for the Jaguars score of the day. That play aside, the Cowboys did a really good job limiting big plays against a receiving corp with a lot of speed.

Even with Bortles scrambling, the Cowboys were able to hold the Jaguars as a team to 3.6 yards per carry on the day. The Jaguars' T.J. Yeldon was able to come up with some decent runs, but the defense kept those positive gains from having much of an impact on the game.

The Dallas Cowboys' defense isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a unit that has played really good football for much of the 2018 season. On Sunday, the Cowboys did an excellent job getting off the field on third downs and forcing turnovers and other errors, which were created by the Cowboys pressure.

Everything seems to be coming together for Dallas with David Irving and Maliek Collins getting back into the lineup. If Sean Lee and Chidobe Awuzie are able to go for the Cowboys next week, this defense is going to make life extremely difficult for Alex Smith and the Washington Redskins next Sunday.

After allowing a ton of yards last week, the Cowboys defense rebounded with a dominant performance against a Jaguars team that played for the AFC Championship last season. For the Cowboys to get to the playoffs in 2018, they're going to have to play at a high level like they did on Sunday.

I, for one, don't doubt that they can.



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