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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.

Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott Ranked as Third Least Consistent QB in NFL

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Jekyll or Hyde: Year 3 "Prove It" Season For Dak Prescott?

Last season could've gone a lot better for Dak Prescott. After a remarkable rookie season, he wasn't able to meet the very high expectations put on him after leading the Dallas Cowboys to the #1 seed in the NFC in 2016.

Inevitably, the "sophomore slump" managed to get to Dak, even though the numbers make it seem worse than it really was. From his 13 interceptions in 2017, not even half can be completely blamed on him. However, even though he made improvements in his game, it's fair to admit that there was indeed, a slump in his second year in the NFL.

Earlier this week, NFL.com published an article listing the most and the least consistent quarterbacks in the league last season. The way the list works is measuring "their average 2017 swing in week-to-week passer rating." In the list, Dak Prescott is listed as the third least consistent QB in the league, with only Cam Newton and Derek Carr behind him.

Just like the Dallas Cowboys' had a roller coaster for a season, constantly shifting between winning and losing, Dak Prescott also struggled at remaining consistent. It makes a ton of sense, of course, for the Cowboys' 9-7 season had a lot of swings throughout the year.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Ashley Landis / The Dallas Morning News)

At times, the team was missing its most important defender in Sean Lee. At others, Tyron Smith and/or Ezekiel Elliott weren't on the field either. This is not an attempt to excuse Dak, for he is partly at fault here, as is the entire team.

From week 10 to 12, Dak failed to throw for a touchdown but ended up throwing five interceptions. Later in the season, failing once again to get a TD pass in two straight weeks, he threw for two interceptions at Oakland then another two when hosting the Seahawks in Dallas.

In a season that will likely determine his future with the Dallas Cowboys, Dak needs to find a way to be more consistent week after week regardless of circumstance. Hopefully, with an improved offensive line and with Ezekiel Elliott leaving every suspension drama behind him, his offense will put him in position to have his best year yet.

In 2016 and in 2017, his Total Quarterback Rating has been in the top 4 among all quarterbacks, per ESPN. Now, this is not a stat that tells the whole story, but it does give you an idea of each quarterback's play. In a run-first offense and with a safe passer like Dak, I'm sure consistency will not be hard to deal with for the young QB next season.

As long as he takes advantage of the new set of targets he'll have at his disposal and his offense's powerful running back with recently-signed draftee Connor Williams, this offense will look a lot more like the one we saw in 2016.

We know Dak Prescott has a lot to prove. He has to make longer throws, throw more aggressively to get his receivers open, and more. But consistency is just as important. In order to be continuously successful and to be a contender year after year, you need that in your signal-caller. Even if key players on the team are down, he needs to be able to shine. It's a sixteen-game season, after all.

It's time for Dak to prove he can handle that.

Tell me what you think about "Dak Prescott Ranked as Third Least Consistent QB in NFL" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?

Sean Martin

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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster? 2
(Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.

This group includes Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Lance Lenoir, Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Michael Gallup, KD Cannon, Mekale McCay, and Marchie Murdock.

The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.

One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.

Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.

What Happens if WR Allen Hurns Doesn't Pan Out?

Dallas Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Allen Hurns (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.

This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.

Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.

Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.

Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.

Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster?

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.

It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.

Tell us what you think about "Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?" 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 Most Important Backups Entering Training Camp

Sean Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Most Important Backups Entering Training Camp
(Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

In less than two weeks, the Dallas Cowboys will be practicing in Oxnard, their final training camp tune up before the preseason and roster cuts. If last year is any indication, the Cowboys trim down to 53 players from 90 will be eventful as always. However, it was ultimately the depth of this final roster that failed the Cowboys in a 9-7 season falling short of the playoffs.

The loss of Ezekiel Elliott to suspension and Tyron Smith, Jonathan Cooper, and Sean Lee to injury was all too much for the Cowboys to overcome. Starting his career with a playoff appearance at 13-3, Quarterback Dak Prescott now enters a crucial third year, though he can only hope the team's free agent signings and rookies can help patch these holes.

Before the pads come on at training camp, here is a look at a few of the most important depth players the Cowboys have for 2018.

Offensive Tackle Cam Fleming

The Cowboys spent the 50th overall pick at this year's draft on their future Left Guard Connor Williams, making their signing of Cam Fleming more important. Should Williams grab hold of the starting spot left by Jonathan Cooper's departure, Fleming should serve as the Cowboys primary backup to Left Tackle Tyron Smith.

Joined only by Chaz Green and Kadeem Edwards on the depth chart at tackle, Fleming's experience should win out over the rest of the field. Also signing Guard Marcus Martin this offseason, it's clear the Cowboys want to avoid their offensive line breakdown from a year ago.

Cam Fleming needs to be in position to help the Cowboys do just that, unless Smith plays a full 16 games for the first time since 2015.

Tavon Austin, the Cowboys Best Playmaker Not Named Ezekiel Elliott?

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Tavon Austin

Wide Receiver/Running Back Tavon Austin

Whatever role Tavon Austin finds in the Cowboys offense, this is a play maker the Cowboys will have to get the ball to in a variety of ways. Expected to partially take the load off of Ezekiel Elliott as a running back while also being targeted in the passing game, Austin could very well influence the team's roster decisions at both RB and WR.

Two uncertain positions when it comes to depth, Austin's presence could mean bad news for Running Backs Darius Jackson and Bo Scarbrough, or Wide Receivers Lance Lenoir, KD Cannon, and Noah Brown.

We're still a long way off from knowing if a decision like this will be the right one for the Cowboys, but with so much uncertainty on offense entering 2018, Tavon Austin's importance could grow by the day in Oxnard.

Linebacker Justin March-Lillard

Needing to address the linebacker position heavily this offseason, the Cowboys locked in on Boise State's Leighton Vander Esch with their first round pick and selected him at 19th overall. With the 193rd overall pick, the Cowboys also added Indiana Linebacker Chris Covington.

Expected starters Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Vander Esch will still need quality depth behind them to play to their strengths this season.

A healthy Lee is locked in as this team's starting WILL linebacker, but the Cowboys are expected to test both Vander Esch and Smith at the MIKE position.

"The loser of this battle" moving to SAM linebacker is not so simple, especially considering other athletic options the Cowboys have for this strong side role. Along with Damien Wilson, the Cowboys have also seen strides from Justin March-Lillard.

Capable of contributing on special teams and providing important snaps in Rod Marinelli's defense, March-Lillard should be a hard player for the Cowboys to leave off their final roster. If he survives to the final 53, expect him to also be active on game days in support of the Cowboys LBs.

Quarterback Cooper Rush

What exactly do the Cowboys have in second-year Quarterback Cooper Rush, an undrafted sensation out of Central Michigan? Showing the potential to be Dak Prescott's primary backup or an enticing trade piece to QB-needy teams as a rookie, Rush is now joined by a new rookie on the depth chart.

Drafting Mike White in the fifth round, the Cowboys have plenty of skill at quarterback this season. The scope of this list is not to cover how well the Cowboys are prepared to play without Prescott.

Playing with two quarterbacks or three on the roster will be a looming decision for the Cowboys though. Either Rush or White could prove they deserve the second and last QB spot, with Rush's progress from last year challenged by White's accuracy.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Of course, more Cowboys backups will emerge as ones to keep an eye on, once the Cowboys are back on the field. With several coaches and 'big name' players potentially needing this season to reach the playoffs for the Cowboys, a second straight season of depleted depth won't cut it.

Such is the nature of the Cowboys roster cuts, with the final 53 man roster set on September 1st.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Most Important Backups Entering Training Camp" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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