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Dallas Cowboys

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.

Dallas Cowboys

Next Day Rant: Too Many Letdown Games Under Jason Garrett

Jess Haynie

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Jason Garrett

Yesterday's 23-0 shutout in Indianapolis was one of the ugliest losses the Dallas Cowboys have had during Jason Garrett's tenure as head coach. Even though it probably won't cost them a playoff spot this year, let alone the NFC East title, it still reminds us of a painful history with Garrett's teams.

It takes me back to those 8-8 seasons during  Jason's first three years as head coach, when playoff hopes were dashed time and again by that inevitable letdown loss in December.

In 2011, the Cowboys were 8-6 with two games to go. The NFC East was all bunched together, with the division title and playoffs in reach. Dallas fell flat in a 20-7 home loss to the Eagles, then got walloped 31-14 in New York.

2012; Dallas is again 8-6. They lost at home, in overtime, to a Saints team that finished the year 7-9. It robbed them of the chance to make their Week 17 finale against Washington, the eventual division winner, a meaningful game.

2013; Dallas is 7-5 after Thanksgiving. They go 1-3 to finish the year, losing to two teams who finished the year with just 8 wins each.

This loss reminded me of those years, where the team just didn't look hungry or emotionally prepared to play despite having everything to play for. For as much as we've credited Jason Garrett for his work as a motivator and leader, these blemishes can't be ignored.

Colts

The Indianapolis Colts ran over the Dallas Cowboys in their 23-0 shutout victory (Week 15, 2018).

To be fair, yesterday's game was a recipe for a loss. The Cowboys were riding high on their five-game win streak. They knew that all they needed was one win in their next three games to clinch the NFC East.

Meanwhile, the Colts are part of a cluster of teams vying for the last Wild Card spot in the AFC. One loss could be the difference between playing football in January or preparing for the offseason.

One team was comfortable and maybe a little complacent, and the other was desperate. Throw in home field and having a better quarterback, and Indianapolis was rightly favored to win the game.

But that 3-point spread was one thing, and Dallas losing 23-0 is another.

Other than their upset win over New Orleans, the Cowboys haven't exactly been taking on the cream of the NFL crop during this win streak. Atlanta is 5-9 and the Eagles and Redskins are both just 7-7.

This Colts game was a chance for Dallas to show its mettle against a legitimate playoff contender. They'd failed throughout the year, losing to Carolina, Seattle, Houston, and Tennessee. But that was before they got hot and got Amari Cooper going.

This game needed to be different. But instead, it was very familiar.

Once again, Jason Garrett's Cowboys couldn't seal the deal. They got outclassed by a team which, by all appearances, is equal to them in talent.

Is the Cowboys 2018 Season Circling the Drain? 1

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

Panic mode is silly when it comes to Dallas making the playoffs. If they can't get a win over the next two weeks with the Bucs and Giants on the schedule, they don't deserve to be there anyway.

The Cowboys should still win the NFC East regardless of what happened yesterday, but now the concern is if this team is really ready for the playoffs. Because a legit playoff team just made us look like hot garbage.

In the 2014 and 2016 seasons, we've taken solace in how close those games have been. If the Dez catch had been called correctly, or if Aaron Rodgers hadn't pulled that throw to Jared Cook out of his butt, the Cowboys might have very well advanced to the NFC Championship. They were contenders, and they took those games down to the wire.

But is this Dallas team a contender, or are they going to be the champions of a weak division? Will they compete in January?

That's the scary thought that yesterday's disaster leaves me with. On average, Jason Garrett has these guys motivated to play. Even when you question the X's and O's, the team almost always seems to play hard.

But they didn't in Indianapolis. They appeared to be resting on the laurels of their win streak and seemingly inevitable division title, and that's concerning with playoff games on the horizon.

Maybe this game was exactly the kind of wake-up call that this young roster needed. This isn't 2016 again; you're not rolling into the playoffs as a 13-win juggernaut.

A good coach uses a game like this to help his team learn and grow. It's actually great for them if it eradicates any potential complacency that had set in.

But that means Jason Garrett has to overcome his history. We've been let down too many times already.



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Nation, It’s Time To Take a Deep Breath

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Warts And All, Dak Prescott Shows Why It's Not So Easy To Move On

It's difficult to find the words after watching the Dallas Cowboys perform (if you can even call it that) the way they did against the Indianapolis Colts. The team's five-game winning streak came to an end in a disappointing showing in literally every phase of the game. The Cowboys walked away from this game with zero points on the board... zero. It's the first time this franchise is shutout since 2003.

And despite such a bad game, guess what? There's no need to panic. No, the Cowboys' season is not over. No, it's not the end of the world. Even if Cowboys Twitter tries to tell you otherwise. I'm here to ask you to take a deep breath...

The Dallas Cowboys are still one win away from being the 2018 NFC East Champions.

Now, granted, the loss was definitely painful and disappointing. It would've been great to watch Dallas get a statement win on the road against such a hot team. With the defense playing lights out all year, it was odd to watch them get picked apart by Andrew Luck and crushed by Marlon Mack. Tackling was disastrous as was the lack of pressure on the opposing quarterback.

On the other side of the ball, an already concerning unit managed to scare us even more. Play calling remains unbearable to watch, Dak Prescott continues to hold the ball for too long as he refuses to throw it away, and the offensive line's downfall continues With Zack Martin out, Connor Williams didn't really help much as the entire unit got consistently beat by the Colts' defense. Not even Amari Cooper, who had been owning the NFL since week 9, was able to put up a decent showing this time around.

Everything that could have gone wrong, went horribly wrong. And yet, the Cowboys control their own destiny.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Indianapolis 1

They don't depend on the outcomes of any third party as they did in 2017. Sitting at 8-6, abandoning all hope on this team makes no sense. In today's NFL, every football franchise is bound to have a bad game from time to time. That's why the Seattle Seahawks (who currently have a Wild Card spot) fell this week to the 4-10 San Francisco 49ers. That's also why the New England Patriots have suffered losses in back-to-back weeks. Even the Los Angeles Rams, the second seed in the NFC at the moment, were stunned by the Nick Foles-led Philadelphia Eagles!

It's a competitive league. It's as simple as that. If there's one thing we've learned this season is that once January football is on, any given team can beat any other on the Playoffs. The New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and Los Angeles Chargers have all proven to be beatable teams.

The Cowboys falling on the road against a very legit threat in the AFC is far from the end of the season. It's high time we learn to avoid recency bias and stop making our final judgments on teams or players based on the last game we saw.

The Dallas Cowboys can still run the football. They have an offense capable of controlling the time of possession. And their defense is still a great unit with a quality pass rush and a great set of linebackers.

So, Cowboys Nation, I invite you to take a deep breath and repeat after me: "The Cowboys are still one win away from the NFC East title and are one pretty good football team." Seriously, the season is far from over.

On to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Nation, It’s Time To Take a Deep Breath" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Indianapolis

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Indianapolis

In a game we all hoped would clinch the NFC East division, the Dallas Cowboys instead got shut out by the Indianapolis Colts in one of their worst performances of the season. It was a deplorable performance in every aspect of the game and something we hope to never see again.

I knew sooner or later the Dallas Cowboys self-inflicted wounds would catch up to them, and that's exactly what happened against the Colts. They had far too many penalties and mental mistakes once again and it allowed Indianapolis to take over the game. The Cowboys beat themselves plain and simple.

Before I get on a rant about yesterday's game, I better stick to the topic at hand and share with you what I believe to be The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys. As always, please feel free to use the comment section located at the end of the article to share any of your thoughts and opinions on this topic.

The Good

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

In a game where just about everything went wrong for the Dallas Cowboys it sometimes a little difficult to find any kind of silver lining. That was the case this week after the Cowboys were shut out by the Indianapolis Colts. But, the good for me is that Dallas still holds their playoff fate in their hands, despite the embarrassing loss.

Any thoughts of sitting any of the starters for the Cowboys has now gone out the window. They absolutely have to play to win to close out the 2018 regular-season, because they failed to do what needed to be done against the Colts to secure the NFC East division title. Luckily though, it didn't close the door on their playoff aspirations.

With the Buccaneers and Giants left remaining on their schedule, the Cowboys will have to find some way to get back to their winning ways. Hopefully this was just the slap in the face they needed in order to put things in perspective. They simply can't afford another showing like they had against Indianapolis at any point moving forward.

The Bad

Xavier Su'a-flio

Dallas Cowboys LG Xavier Su'a-flio

I knew exactly what I was going to put in the section as soon as it happened during the game. The bad this week for the Dallas Cowboys against the Indianapolis Colts for me was without a doubt their banged up, patched together offensive line.

The Cowboys were forced to go with a patchwork offensive line for the majority of the game against the Colts yesterday afternoon after Xavier Su'a-flio left the game after an eye injury, forcing the Cowboys to go with their third string offensive guard Adam Redmond. Su'a-flio immediately had to leave the stadium to have his eye examined by an optometrist, suggesting that it was a pretty significant injury.

Unfortunately, another injury on the OL for the Cowboys leaves them severely thin depth wise at the most inopportune time. Hopefully a week of rest has done Zack Martin's injured knee some good and he will be able to return to the lineup as soon as possible. That would allow Connor Williams to move back to LG and hopefully solidify the offensive line once again.

The Ugly

Marlon Mack, Chidobe Awuzie

Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack

Maybe I underestimated the Indianapolis Colts offense or maybe I just overrated the Dallas Cowboys defense, but something was clearly off yesterday afternoon on the defensive side of the ball for the Cowboys. After being so good nearly all season, they were just plain ugly against Indianapolis.

The Cowboys defense didn't have an answer for the Colts offense, especially in the running game. Marlon Mack, a solid runner although not spectacular, completely gashed the Cowboys usually stout run defense. He ran for 139 rushing yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns, something that's been unheard of against Dallas' run D.

I was honestly completely shocked he had so much success. There were far too many missed tackles and blown assignments to my liking and I believe the coaching staff will make sure to focus on clearing that up moving forward. This team can't afford to let opposing offenses control the clock with their rushing attack. That's the Cowboys MO.

What's your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against Indianapolis?



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