The Dallas Cowboys are learning the hard way that it takes more than hype or one player to win. Dak Prescott has continued to struggle since Ezekiel Elliott deciding to take his six-game suspension. While the Cowboys were still in contention when Elliott was on the field, Prescott has failed to deliver without his better half.
The Cowboys were 5-3 before Elliott took his suspension and after three straight losses, they now sit at 5-6 on the season. The playoffs are still a possibility but the way they’re playing, it’s as if they’re waiting for the next crop of NFL-ready Alabama Crimson Tide players to hit the draft board.
But what or who is the real issue?
The simple answer to that according to For The Win is Dak Prescott. Last season, Prescott was a favorite to win the NFL MVP award and this season, he’s more of the likely to be benched variety. The whispers among fans were that Prescott was the real deal while Elliott was just a product of the best offensive line in the NFL.
Before Cowboys fans start to crucify me, think back to another tandem who wrecked havoc on the league. How good were the Cowboys with a backfield of Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith? Three Super Bowl championships later, they might be one of the greatest tandems in league history, but individually, Aikman was just average while Smith went on to lead the NFL in career rushing yards.
Prescott has the arm of an NFL quarterback, however, he has shown he cannot do it alone. This is what separates him from Carson Wentz and Jared Goff in terms of leadership. While each young quarterback has their flaws, we’re now seeing that Prescott’s is on par with those of Aikman’s.
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As good as Aikman was, he achieved a level of success due to Smith and Michael Irving. But, Prescott has yet to make Dez Bryant resemble a true No. 1 receiver as he’s had a hard time moving the ball down the field without Elliott as his security blanket. And, let’s not forget how invisible the great and reliable Jason Witten has been as well.
Imagine if Tom Brady forgot how to hit open receivers or get rid of the ball when a defense begins to close in on him. These are the types of decisions that can make or break a quarterback’s career and Prescott has failed in 2017. The reason Cowboys fans will have a hard time understanding this is because this has never happened before. Tony Romo can be brought up but look at Romo’s numbers in the regular season and he’s been up there with the likes of Brady and Aaron Rodgers. While Aikman’s numbers were average (94-71 record, 165 touchdowns, 142 interceptions), it was Smith who made him look good.
It’s hard to argue with their success and this is why fans are struggling to admit the truth about Prescott. It can be blamed on his mechanics or the fact that teams now have film to study on the once third-string player. Whatever the case might be, what it boils down to is wins. If the Cowboys were hailed as having the best offensive line in football, should it really matter who’s running the ball? If the skills of Elliott were ever in question, the last three games have provided the answers to how good he is and how average Prescott is.
Since Elliott left, the Cowboys have scored just 22 points with Prescott going 58-88 for 500 yards, 0 passing touchdowns, and five interceptions. Yup, Aikman-like numbers for sure. While Jason Garrett should not bench Prescott, he needs to find a way to put his quarterback in position to win. Wentz doesn’t have an Elliott player to hand the ball off to but his Philadelphia Eagles still have the best record in the NFL.
Aikman may not have been the best in terms of production but he did enough to put his team in place to win. Prescott must find a way to do the same without Elliott.
[Featured Image by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images]