Is Dak Prescott ready to lead the Dallas Cowboys?
Like it or not, the Cowboys are about to find out if Prescott can help the team avoid a rough beginning to the NFL season. Prescott went from being a burgeoning backup to the starting quarterback on a Cowboys’ team with playoff aspirations.
Things are about to become taxing on the Cowboys, who will be without Tony Romo for six to 10 weeks (courtesy of ESPN). The incumbent starting signal-caller suffered a fractured vertebrae in the Cowboys’ third preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. It is believed that Romo will not need to undergo surgery.
Tony Romo appeared to hurt his back. Great block by Zeke, but certainly not what the Cowboys want to see pic.twitter.com/21rt9cUjp2— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 26, 2016
Cowboys’ head coach Jason Garrett assured everyone that Romo’s broken back was not due to other spinal issues the quarterback has dealt with in the past.
“Again it’s not related to the other back issues that he’s had (and is) very specific to the hit he took the other night at the game. And he came out and he was lobbying to go back in. We decided to not have him go back in, and then he actually felt fine after the game. Then he woke up on Friday morning and didn’t feel so good and (the back) stiffened up on him, and that’s when we did the MRI. And that’s what we found.”
The Dallas Cowboys are used to Tony Romo having difficulties with an ailing back. Romo’s 2013 season came to a premature end when he was placed on injured reserve in late December. Romo had surgery to repair his back (according to USA Today).
Dallas was looking at potential backup quarterbacks before the NFL preseason began. Two of the names who the Cowboys considered were Nick Foles and Cleveland Browns’ QB Josh McCown. Foles, a free agent at the time, ended up signing with the Kansas City Chiefs. That was followed by rumored trade negotiations between the Browns and Cowboys.
Nothing materialized from those talks, but things could pick up right where the Browns and Cowboys left off. Whoever the Cowboys bring in, and it is widely assumed that Dallas will add a quarterback, will be the backup to Dak Prescott.
Overall familiarity with the offensive playbook is the primary reason why Prescott gets the nod over anyone the Cowboys add. At the very least, Prescott will get the start on Week 1. As he prepares for the upcoming start of the NFL season, the Cowboys will be entertaining passers.
Dak Prescott is balling out in the preseason. pic.twitter.com/NwUqe1yiGl— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 26, 2016
Dak Prescott has performed well in his preseason appearances. Of the NFL rookies that have thrown passes in the preseason, Prescott has arguably fared the best. But with zero completed pass in an NFL game with meaning, the Cowboys’ rookie is no sure thing. That has not deterred Cowboys’ Vice President Stephen Jones from having confidence in the fourth-round pick (courtesy of the Dallas Morning News).
“I think it’s the best option we have. We’re confident he’ll go out there and do a good job with this football team.
“It’s a great opportunity for him. He has good energy, a good chemistry with our football team. I just think he’s the right answer for us right now.”
Energy is needed for a Cowboys’ team that has to be experiencing a case of deja vu.
It was early last season when the Cowboys were without not only Tony Romo, but also wide receiver Dez Bryant. To make matters worst, their replacements failed to do an adequate job of keeping the Cowboys afloat.
Missing two of their top two players for most of the year doomed the Cowboys. The Cowboys went from Super Bowl contenders to having the fourth-worst record in the NFL. Things will be different this time around. There are a few elements in place for Dak Prescott to succeed.
Bryant is healthy, and will give Prescott a downfield target to throw to. Reliable tight end Jason Witten is available for the intermediate routes and tough yards. Then there is Ezekiel Elliott.
I'm actually ok with this. I think Dak Prescott could be special. Plus I'm numb to anything bad… https://t.co/rnOxynC0C7— Charlamagne Tha God (@cthagod) August 27, 2016
Elliott, also a rookie, was expected to take on the lion’s share of the load on offense. That does not change with Prescott taking the snaps under center. In fact, everything remains the same for the Cowboys’ offense. The only change is Prescott. All he has to do is manage the game for the Cowboys, not commit foolish mistakes, and remain under control. The rest will hinge on the veterans. As long as Prescott is coached up well, the Cowboys will be fine.
As for bringing in another quarterback, look for the Cowboys to revive their interest in Josh McCown. Another possibility could be Brian Hoyer of the Chicago Bears. Unfortunately, an injury to QB Connor Shaw may convince the Bears to hold on to Hoyer.
The most intriguing name the Cowboys could consider is New York Jets’ backup quarterback Geno Smith.
Smith does not have a place on the Jets’ depth chart. Rookie Christian Hackenberg is guaranteed a spot on the Jets’ roster. The same might be said about third-year QB, Bryce Petty. If Smith is the odd man out, it could be wise for the Cowboys to offer a conditional late-round pick for him.
The Cowboys can also simply wait to see if the Jets will cut Smith outright. Aside from Josh McCown, this scenario seems more idealistic for the Cowboys.
Smith has thrown passes in the NFL and has a few wins under his belt. He will not be confused as a Hall of Fame passer, but Smith can be an insurance policy for the Cowboys until Romo returns.
Romo will miss at least four games. The Cowboys will have to survive that long. Prescott will need a veteran to back him up, or in the worst-case scenario for the Cowboys, come in if the rookie gets hurt. McCown, Smith, and anyone else the Cowboys may have interest in has to fit this criteria.
The good news is that the Dallas Cowboys have been here before. What took place last season should not repeat itself here. The bad news for the Cowboys is that another promising season is in danger due to more bad luck. Tony Romo is out once again. Can Dak Prescott, who is a rookie quarterback, keep things from going under water? The Cowboys certainly hope so.
[Photo by Otto Gruele Jr./Getty Images]