Finally, the Dallas Cowboys made the decision to make Tony Romo the backup quarterback. Now, Dak Prescott is the permanent signal caller for America’s Team. His era begins now.
From his first preseason game to his recent come-from-behind win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dak Prescott has played outstanding as quarterback. In fact, the dynamic rookie signal caller has guided the Dallas Cowboys to an NFL best 8-1 record and has tied a franchise record with eight straight victories.
On Tuesday afternoon, Dak got the long-awaited news that he would be the Cowboys permanent quarterback. Of course, this became official after Romo’s impromptu press conference about accepting his role as the team’s backup quarterback.
Dak Prescott earned his job the hard way. This rookie out of Mississippi State has made believers out of Jerry Jones, his teammates, and Cowboys Nation. That is one gigantic mountain to climb.
Being the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys is one of the most scrutinized positions in all of sports. And all Dak did is come out and make playing QB for Dallas look easy.
At first, Dak was supposed to be nothing more than a placeholder for Romo, even as he mounted up impressive victories. That was a good notion because the team had suffered a 4-12 record in 2015 because of awful play from backup quarterbacks. Once healthy, all Romo had to do was take over and continue to win games.
Dak changed that thinking in a convincing fashion with each hard-earned victory. Let’s go back and see how Dak earned the right to quarterback the Cowboys.
When training camp started, Dak was the third string quarterback behind Kellen Moore. Dak was the fourth round pick, a two-year development project at best. Heck, Dak wasn’t even expected to beat out Moore for the primary backup job.
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As fate would have it, Moore broke a leg in practice and Dak immediately became the #2 backup, having to now play in all of the preseason games.
In Dak’s first preseason game, against the Los Angles Rams, Dak played outstanding, completing several passes and throwing touchdowns at will. He exemplified poise, pocket awareness, accuracy, and most of all, leadership.
Further, Dak didn’t throw a single interception in a preseason game.
Dak performed at such a high level that critics immediately hailed him as the Cowboys future franchise quarterback. That speaks volumes when owner and General Manager Jerry Jones tried unsuccessfully to land Paxton Lynch and Conner Cook before settling on Dak in the 2016 draft.
Then the unthinkable happened.
Romo breaks his vertebra against the Seattle Seahawks. Not only is Dallas having flashbacks from last season’s audition of pathetic quarterback play, the team now has to depend on a mid-round rookie to lead them in Romo’s absence.
Although Dak played at an optimum level in preseason, the regular season was perceived to be harder because he would be facing elite competition, not the below average players he faced in preseason.
Clearly, Dallas had stumbled upon a gem.
Dak lost his first NFL game to the hated New York Giants, but it wasn’t because of him being a rookie. That blame can be attributed to mental lapses on veterans like Terrance Williams (not running out of bounds to save time) and not holding onto a sure touchdown catch, Dez Bryant.
Dak’s impressive play from the preseason carried over to the regular season as his attributes propelled Dallas to upset the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. It would be the first of eight wins and Dallas’ longest winning streak since 1977 (the year they won the Super Bowl)
What Dak has done is more than fantastic. In his learning process, Dak has set an NFL rookie record for most passes without an interception to start a career (176), club records for passing yards (2,339). passing touchdowns (14), wins as a starter (8), and quarterback rating as a starter (106.2).
That’s beyond anything the Dallas’ front office envisioned when they drafted Dak in the fourth round. Dak accomplished all of this while Jones vehemently paraded Romo as the starting quarterback once he was deemed healthy.
Not only did Dak toe the company line, but he constantly said this is Romo’s team, despite major wins over the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles.
Imagine how humbling Dak had to be to continue to say its Romo’s team and your owner or head coach wouldn’t even name you the outright starter?
As Dak continued to win games like a Pro Bowler, his play was dissected like a frog in a biology class on ESPN and other sports blogs. NFL experts and scouts would point out Dak’s mistakes like Simon used to do on “American Idol”.
The turning point for Dak came when he regrouped himself from bad quarterback play and brought Dallas back from a 23-10 deficit and a key divisional victory over the Eagles.
Dak showed that he could overcome adversity and lead his team to victory. To me, that’s when he won his teammates over and front office, illustrating his will to lead and to win.
Plus, each game served as the litmus test for Dak, from the Redskins game to the recent victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Every team was supposed to create some type of threat to Dak, causing the rookie to play like “rookie”.
Dak has proven all of the critics wrong, including his owner. Nine games into Dak’s young NFL career, he’s playing at an MVP level, has his team on a winning streak, and owing the best record in the league.
Dak had to prove himself in preseason, and he had to lead his team to the best record in the NFL to land this job. Like a rose that grew through the concrete, Dak had to earn it the hard way.