Since it was first given out in 1967, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award has always had a single winner. In all that time, perhaps no two players have made a better case for there to be co-winners than the Dallas Cowboys' Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott's 1631 rushing yards is the third-highest total for a rookie season in NFL history. He accomplished this in just 15 games. Eric Dickerson's record of 1808 yards was in 16 games, as was George Rogers' second-place mark of 1674 yards. Elliott would have almost certainly moved past Rogers had he played against the Eagles last Sunday.
Prescott set a new NFL rookie record with his 104.9 passer rating. He tied Ben Roethlisberger with 13 wins, the most ever by a rookie quarterback. He threw fewer interceptions (per pass attempt) than any rookie QB ever.
The debate about who deserves the award more between Elliott and Prescott seems to be split down the middle. It has a strong "chicken and the egg" element to it; who makes life easier for who?
Does Elliott's dominant running make things easier for the passing game, keeping guys close to the box and allowing for some deadly play-action passes? Yes.
Does Prescott's efficient, turnover-avoiding play help sustain drives and give Elliott more opportunities to rack up yards and score touchdowns? Yes.
Ezekiel Elliott's numbers are more about flash and production while Dak Prescott's are about efficiency and precision. Both were equally impressive when compared to the rookies who've come before them. Both were key reasons that the Dallas Cowboys went from 4-12 to 13-3 in just one season.
Given the flash, the style, and the Salvation Army kettle bell, it can be easy to get a little more swept off your feet by Elliott. He is a superstar and entertainer. He will probably sell more merchandise over his career than Dak Prescott. But his story isn't nearly as compelling.
Elliott is the running back who got taken with the fourth-overall pick and joined one of the best offensive lines in NFL history. He was expected to be great. The ideas that he could challenge Dickerson's rookie record, or even DeMarco Murray's team record from 2014, were floated from the minute he was drafted.
Prescott came from the other end of the expectation spectrum. He was the 135th pick, taken at the end of the fourth round with a compensatory selection. He was taken after Dallas tried to move up for Paxton Lynch in the first round and Connor Cook at the start of the fourth. Seven quarterbacks were drafted before Prescott.
Prescott was the third quarterback behind Tony Romo and Kellen Moore during training camp. A broken ankle took Moore out of the equation and allow Dak to shine in the backup role. Romo was then injured in the third preseason game. Prescott went from QB3 to QB1 in just a few weeks and only a few Sundays before the regular season opener.
The rest, as they say, is history. It also made history for these rookies and the Dallas Cowboys. Given all of this, why shouldn't the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award make a little more?
There is a precedent for this. In 1980, the Defensive ROTY Award was given to two linebackers from the Atlanta Falcons; Buddy Curry and Al Richardson. The Falcons were the top seed in the NFC that season, the same position that the Cowboys enjoy in 2016.
Team accomplishment is why, more than any reason, I feel the award should go to both players. The Cowboys tied a franchise record for wins despite circumstances that usually leaves teams in the gutter. The story of this season is bigger than what any one player did; both rookies performed and, more importantly, led the team to unexpected success.
The ROTY Awards are decided by ballots from a 50-man panel of Associated Press members. The odds that a perfect tie will come from those ballots are slim. Unfortunately, just one of Ezekiel Elliott or Dak Prescott will likely come away with the award.
Personally, I think awards should be about more than just a sum of votes. I think they should be part of a greater narrative; part of the ending to a wonderful sports story. The story of the 2016 Cowboys involves Dak and Zeke equally and neither is more or less deserving of every available accolade.
If the award is given by writers then they should understand this better than anybody. Give the story the right ending.
Tony Romo Documentary in the Works
If you've missed seeing Tony Romo on the field, an upcoming documentary may be the cure. The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback is reportedly the subject of a film chronicling his football career going all the way back to high school.
"Now or Never" will tell Romo's incredible story, going from undrafted to one of the top passers in the history of the Cowboys' storied franchise. It's being produced by a Texas-based company run by Christian Hanna (no known relation to James).
According to an article from MyRacineCounty.com, Romo's hometown newspaper, the tale of Tony's football career will be told going back to his days at Burlington High School in Wisconsin. It will follow him to Eastern Illinois University, the same QB hotbed that more recently produced Jimmy Garoppolo.
But what most of us will want to relive is Tony's amazing NFL career, which stands out among the most unexpected rises to stardom of any player in league history.
Romo, who was an undrafted free agent signed by the Cowboys in 2003, didn't play in a game for three seasons. He rose the QB depth chart through practice and preseason play, eventually becoming the backup and earning the respect of then-coach Bill Parcells.
In Week 7 of 2006, Parcells pulled struggling starter Drew Bledsoe at halftime and went with his intriguing young prospect. Tony's first pass in the NFL was one to forget; an interception.
About a decade later, Romo would retire as the Cowboys' all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. He currently ranks fourth all-time in NFL history for passer rating.
Tony's career never saw the playoff and Super Bowl success of predecessors Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, but he remains a beloved figure in team history. The controversial end to his football career, losing his job to rookie phenom Dak Prescott in 2016, created a major rift among Cowboys fans.
While no longer playing, Romo remains one of the hottest names in football. His charisma and football acumen have him in a featured role with CBS Broadcasting.
From obscurity to "anointing oil" to one of the most discussed names in sports, Tony Romo's story is fascinating. This documentary crew picked a great subject, and we look forward to enjoying their work and revisiting the Romo Era once the film is released.
Prescott VS Wentz Rivalry is Just Beginning
No one expected Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott to become such an interesting rivalry, but that's precisely what the 2016's second and 135th draft picks have turnt out to be since the day they entered the NFL. The two came into the NFC East with very different expectations. Dak wasn't even supposed to be a starter, but circumstance is what helped this rivalry emerge.
Prescott seemed to lead the race after their rookie seasons were over, having led the Dallas Cowboys to a 13-3 record and the #1 seed in the NFC, but Carson Wentz made a huge statement in 2017. Before he went down injured playing versus the LA Rams last December, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback was playing astonishingly well.
Leading the MVP race before tearing his ACL, Carson Wentz had thrown for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns through 13 games. Had he not gone down, it's more likely than not he would've been named the MVP instead of Tom Brady.
Despite having won the passing yards race, Dak Prescott's 2017 was rougher than his rival's. His interceptions count went from 4 in 2016 to 13 last season. He threw for only 22 touchdowns, falling eight short of the 30 TDs mark. His completion percentage also went down, from over 67% to almost 63%.
As we all know, it wasn't a good year for the Dallas Cowboys. Suspensions, injuries and poor play led them to a disappointing 9-7 season that didn't feel like a winning season at all, even though that's how it will go down in the books.
To make things worse, the Eagles went into January with QB Nick Foles starting, and overcoming adversity and doubters, won their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Although it was Foles and not Wentz the one who played Philadelphia's postseason, the former second overall pick is one of the main reasons for the team's success.
His sophomore year was way better than Dak's.
But as impressive as Wentz's year was, the rivalry between the two signal-callers is just beginning. There is still a lot of history to write in this duel of two young and hard-working players. Two leader of men in one of the most intense rivalries in the NFL.
Through two years of football, here's how their numbers look like:
Wentz: 29 games, 1,047 attempts, 644 completions (61.5%), 7,078 yards, 49 TDs, 2 rushing TDs
Prescott: 32 games, 949 attempts, 619 completions (65.2%), 6,991 yards, 45 TDs, 12 rushing TDs
There's not a ton of difference between their numbers, but in the NFL, it's about more than stats. Prescott had the better 2016, Wentz the better 2017.
Dak and Carson have really only played two match-ups in their two years playing in the league. Sitting at an even 1-1 record, 2018 will feature two great games between both of their teams. The defending Super Bowl Champions against the underestimated Dallas Cowboys.
The sport is about winning games and championships, but rivalries like this one make the NFL even more special. Even with Wentz being the MVP front-runner for most of last season, Dak Prescott still has a lot of time to turn things around.
If both turn out to be as successful and important as their franchise wish them to be, then this rivalry will be around for a lot of years.
If Reinstated, Is Randy Gregory A Lock for Cowboys 53-Man Roster?
The Dallas Cowboys will enter training camp in Oxnard with arguably their deepest and most talented defensive line in years. Cowboys Nation continues to hope for the best possible news on suspended Defensive End Randy Gregory, to potentially take this defensive front to the next level. Should Gregory be reinstated, the Cowboys would have another option at right defensive end. This is a position they've bolstered with the signing of Kony Ealy and drafting of Dorance Armstrong, both moves coming behind would-be starter Tyrone Crawford.
This logjam at DE begs the question, amidst optimism for Gregory's situation, is the 2015 second round pick even a lock to make this roster?
Who Does Randy Gregory Need to Outplay?
Going through some form of the Cowboys depth chart at Gregory's position above does little to sort out how Gregory can justify a starting position. Having true starters on the defensive line is not DC Rod Marinelli's way, meaning a possible rotation of Crawford, Gregory, and Armstrong could coexist.
Even with insufficient depth at defensive tackle, the Cowboys seem committed to keeping Crawford on the edge. As he's done with each position change within the Cowboys defense, Crawford is slowly developing into a respectable right end that's great against the run.
This sounds like just the type of player to compliment a speedy rusher like Gregory, but Randy won't be alone in this role should he return to the team. Along with FA addition Kony Ealy, the Cowboys will look to bring Charles Tapper back from an offseason concussion, and also have second-year rusher Taco Charlton in need of a true position.
It's fair to say that Gregory has been anything but reliable since the Cowboys took a gamble on him, but turning his life around to see out this reinstatement would go a long way in beating out the often-injured Tapper.
Given Ealy's ability to play both on the edge and inside, at his best if receiving limited snaps, I believe that Gregory will only have to surpass Tapper in reaching a favorable spot on the Cowboys depth chart at DE.
Comparing Randy Gregory and Dorance Armstrong
Of course, making the roster and making an impact on defense are two vastly different realities for Gregory in 2018. Another player that could stunt his opportunities to hunt down quarterbacks is rookie fourth round pick Dorance Armstrong.
The Cowboys would love to see Armstrong begin his career with a strong showing in Oxnard, owning all of the traits needed to be an effective right end at the next level.
Lacking the true cornering speed that Gregory has flashed in short spurts, Armstrong did produce a ten sack season for Kansas in 2016. This production matches the traits that kept Armstrong a priority for the Cowboys at the draft, despite only seeing him get home 1.5 times in 2017.
Rewind to last year's draft, and the Cowboys spent their first round pick on a defensive end they looked to make a right end, all while knowing his ideal spot is at LDE. This makes the difference between drafting Charlton and Armstrong an important one, as the Cowboys are clearly searching for high-value options to complete their pass rush.
Again, assuming Tapper becomes the odd man out in the Cowboys carrying Gregory, Ealy, and Armstrong as right ends, the work is cut out for Gregory to regain the trust of his coaches and bring what only he can to this defense.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
It goes without saying that Randy Gregory will carry plenty of attention with him if present in Oxnard. This is a player capable of transforming a young Cowboys defense into one of the league's most feared.
While the Cowboys would do well to quickly sort out who plays the 3T-DT position alongside DeMarcus Lawrence, and the 1T inside for that matter too, sticking Gregory on the opposite edge could be the easiest decision they make to see immediate improvements in their pass rush.
Should Ealy or Armstrong have more to say about this lineup for the Cowboys defensive line, the depth of this unit will live up to the hype.
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