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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.

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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.

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Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

The Cowboys have just one more game to get through without their star running back Ezekiel Elliott, but Alfred Morris and Rod Smith deserve a ton of credit for the way they’ve been able to fill in out of the backfield for Zeke Elliott. Throughout the time Elliott has missed though, the Cowboys have lacked the explosive plays on offense that he can provide – until Rod Smith was given an opportunity last week at the Giants.

Smith complimented Morris exceptionally well, running with quickness and power to prove his case for more of a role on offense behind Elliott moving forward. It was the Ohio State product’s consecutive touchdowns of 81 yards through the air and 15 yards on the ground that sealed the game for the Cowboys in week 14.

Here is a closer look at Rod Smith’s performance from last week in this latest Sean’s Scout.

Smith3 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

The Cowboys offensive line was dominant as always against a tough New York defensive front, and this first play is a great look at their execution in space and on the move. Rod Smith’s decisiveness when hitting the hole with speed and balance was the first thing I noticed on the game tape.

The best thing Smith does on this play comes at the second level, where running backs can truly make a difference in Dallas. As RG Zack Martin rides his man out of the play entirely, he gets in front of Smith who is seeing the play develop straight ahead. With his long strides, Smith is able to smoothly get through traffic and continue accelerating up field through arm tackles for a big gain.

Smith2 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

These same traits are seen with Rod Smith as a pass catcher – something he does effortlessly to also help fill the void left by Elliott. Watch how quickly Smith commits to his angle up the field after catching this dump pass from Dak Prescott, attacking a defender that has the angle on him after the catch.

Rod subtly leans to the right just enough to make the defender hesitate long enough to allow his burst to evade him and gain extra yards falling forward.

Smith4 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

Smith essentially does the same thing without the ball in his hands here, on his 81 yard catch and run for a touchdown. Setting up the safety out of the slot to be beat across his face, Smith separates from him at the stem and then does a great job getting depth on his route into the vacated middle of the field. With blockers to help him reach the end zone, Smith turns this busted coverage by the Giants into the game’s biggest play.

Smith1 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

This last play I chose to show is probably the least well-blocked attempt for Smith out of the ones in this Sean’s Scout, but there is still a lot to like about what Rod does here with the ball in his hands.

The Giants might be a two-win football team, but they still have marquee players up front, particularly DE Olivier Vernon. Smith does well here to keep his feet moving as he cuts this play to the backside. Vernon does well to limit the potential gain on this play by staying away from the block of Jason Witten, as Smith is taken down by Darian Thompson.

The numbers the Giants had to commit to stopping the run was still a huge reason why Prescott had a career day throwing the football, and Rod Smith’s readiness to step in at RB was a deciding factor in getting Dallas to 7-6.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Proving to be one of the Dallas Cowboys most valuable players, considering his cost (under contract through 2018), and ability to contribute on special teams and offense, Rod Smith is the perfect RB3 for this team.

Smith is not elite in any one area, and is not a prototypical RB from a physical standpoint, but his contributions as a runner, pass catcher, and blocker could remain critical to the Cowboys’ hopes of reaching the playoffs behind this offense – even when Ezekiel Elliott is back in the fold.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Dallas Cowboys

Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who’s The Cowboys Real RB1?

Brian Martin

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Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who's Cowboys' Real RB1?

The Dallas Cowboys are less than a week away from welcoming back their talented Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, but until then they still have a game to play against the Oakland Raiders. That means we will have one more week of Alfred Morris and Rod Smith handling the workload, but which RB is sitting at the top of the Cowboys depth chart?

Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of decision that can end up winning or losing a game. Both Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have had their moments during Ezekiel Elliott’s absence, but neither one of them have really distanced themselves from the other. So, should Rod Smith or Alfred Morris receive the majority of the workload against the Raiders Sunday?

A Case for Rod Smith

RB Rod Smith and QB Dak PrescottRod Smith might just have had is coming out party last week against the New York Giants. Against their divisional rival, in what was a must win game for the Cowboys, Smith rushed for 47 yards on six carries and added another 113 yards through the air on five catches. He also found himself in the end zone twice, once on a rushing touchdown and the other on a receiving touchdown.

You may or may not agree, but I believe that “Lightning” Rod Smith was largely responsible for igniting the Cowboys offense and helping them pull away from the Giants last Sunday. He accounted for over 160 total yards and two touchdowns by himself and didn’t receive the majority of his playing time until later in the game.

Rod Smith certainly has traits that make him a more desirable RB over Alfred Morris. First off, he is a more complete back. He is better in pass protection and at catching the ball out of the backfield. But, he is also starting to show up in the running game and is averaging 4.5 yards a carry this season. His size (6’3″, 235) also makes him a better short yardage back, although I wish he would deliver more of a blow at the end of his runs.

A Case for Alfred Morris

RB Alfred MorrisAlthough there’s nothing particularly special that stands out about Alfred Morris, he has proven time and time again he is more than capable of carrying the workload. He has received the majority of the workload during Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and has performed pretty well. In fact, he is averaging 5 yards a carry this season, which is better than any other RB on the Cowboys roster, including Elliott.

Alfred Morris has looked pretty good this season and is playing with more of a spring in his step than I have seen from him in probably his entire career. Last Sunday against the Giants he received the the majority of the workload and finished the game with 19 carries for 62 yards. Not particularly spectacular, but the week prior he did rush for 127 yards on 27 carries in the victory over the Washington Redskins.

Like I mentioned earlier, Morris is a tried-and-true RB in the NFL and is at his best when he can continue to pound the rock and wear down opposing defenses. That is what he did against the Redskins, but he has his limitations as well. Despite his years in the league, he still struggles in pass protection and is limited in what he can do in the passing game. But, he does seem to have the trust of the Cowboys coaching staff.

✭✭✭✭✭

Personally, I would like to see more of Rod Smith this coming Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. I really like what I’ve seen from him in both the running game and in the passing game. I just think he is a more dangerous and versatile weapon then Alfred Morris. His presence on the field really opens up what the Cowboys can do offensively.

I don’t mean any disrespect to Alfred Morris at all. I just think that Rod Smith has proven he is a more dangerous offensive weapon of the two. I don’t know if the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will agree or not, but I truly believe Rod Smith could once again be the X factor against the Oakland Raiders.

Of course, both Rod Smith and Alfred Morris will have to take the back seat once Ezekiel Elliott returns. So, this discussion really only has any credibility for this week in yet another must win situation against the Oakland Raiders.

Who do you like better… Rod Smith or Alfred Morris?

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La’el Collins’ Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise

Brian Martin

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La'el Collins' Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise 1

The decision by the Dallas Cowboys to move La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle was met by some skepticism by quite a few members of Cowboys Nation during the off-season. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those skeptical of the move, but I’m not afraid to admit he has exceeded my expectations.

In all honesty, I always believed that La’el Collins’ best position in the NFL is on the interior of the offense of line as a guard. I thought he could use his strength and athleticism to his advantage when working in a phone booth against slower and less athletic defensive tackles. That’s not to say I didn’t think he would make a good right tackle, I just thought he had Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

Strangely enough, Collins has probably put together a Pro Bowl caliber season in his first season starting at the right tackle position for the Cowboys. He has become an upgrade over the previous starter Doug Free, and is really starting to earn high praise from the brass. Stephen Jones in particular has been impressed with Collins, especially considering how he has played after missing two full weeks of practice.

Mark Lane on Twitter

DallasCowboys COO Stephen Jones told @1053thefan La’el Collins has answered the bell after his contract extension.

I personally agree with everything Stephen Jones said about La’el Collins. I’ve really enjoyed watching his progression this season, but I have been really impressed how he played the last two weeks after missing so much practice.

You might not of known, but Collins has missed two full weeks of practice due to a herniated disc in his back. This is put his availability to play against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in jeopardy, but somehow he has toughened up and played considerably well.

This unfortunately will be something he has to continue to battle through the rest of the season, but I’m not going to bet against him playing. He absolutely makes this offensive line better and I would hate to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell back on the field after the way they played as feel-ins.

La’el Collins has without a doubt earned my respect and I think it’s about time we all recognize the player he is turning into. I know the Dallas Cowboys appreciate all that he does and believe that his recent contract extension is money well spent.

What do you think about La’el Collins?

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