Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

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A Polarizing Prescott Predicament

By Ben Rogers

Ben Rogers
December 12, 2018 - 12:13 pm
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DALLAS (105.3 The Fan) - Bizarrely, I find myself debating both sides of a heated argument when it comes to Dak Prescott’s abilities. I seem to constantly be at odds with both the irate horde who tends to UNDER-value Dak, as well as the angry mob that tends to OVER-value Dak. 

So many Cowboys fans seem to be landing on the side of either extreme. He’s either a god, or he’s terrible. And both sides are ticked. Honestly, I think it’s more likely that he’s smack dab in the middle. 

I’ll now allow a few seconds for both sides of this unnecessary debate to throw heavy objects in my general direction while dog cussing my sainted mother. 

The QB evaluation police seem to know no middle ground. It appears to be a violation of Cowboys fan-law to calmly believe Dak Prescott falls somewhere in-between the two extremes. But that’s where I reside, planted firmly between two opposing groups of completely unreasonable people on entirely opposite ends of the Dak spectrum. 

Might Prescott spread his wings and reach even greater heights in a less predictable scheme that’s tailor-fitted to his strengths? Would he benefit with improved development/mechanics coaching around him? Could he use a veteran back up to help him expedite the all important QB wisdom journey? All fair questions. Also fair to ask if he’s already peaked. 

I believe that current day Dak probably falls somewhere in the 13-through-18 range of power-ranked NFL QBs, with the upside to rank even higher for sure. However, most folks barking on my timeline either believe he’s better than Tom Brady or worse than Tim Tebow. 

And yes, because I’m an admitted card-carrying Tony Romo homer, folks incorrectly perceive ANY fair/critical Dak analysis I offer as being agenda-driven. Look, I never saw the need to push Romo out of the plane, and as a result I was clearly not a fan of the Hot Hand decision. I won’t re-open that can of worms here, but suffice it to say that the polarizing nature of today’s society seemingly makes it impossible to both want Romo to stay, AND be encouraged by a promising young QB. 

The Hot Hand decision was wrong, and was handled poorly by Jason Garrett. The lack of communication as it was transpiring was a tremendous injustice to a guy who sacrificed everything he had for his organization. But the NFL, like life, is not fair. Romo got paid a boatload of cash to help him get over all of the broken bones and punctured lungs. My tiny violin solo is easily drowned out by the sound of cha-chings coming from Romo’s monstrous compound. 

And that ship has sailed. Romo couldn’t be happier splitting time between the booth and the fairway. Besides, this conversation is no longer about Dak vs Romo, it’s now about Dak vs his upcoming contract. 

Franchise QBs get massive deals that gobble up cap space like Joey Chestnut attacks a bucket of hot dogs. If you’re thinking Prescott’s agent is going to give the Cowboys some team-friendly deal because he loves Scooter Magruder and wants the team to have the necessary cap space they need to fill out the roster around Dak, think again. That’s not how agents work. 

The most irrational subset of Dak loyalists are the ones who unbelievably have recently started openly pondering if Dak is the most clutch QB in Dallas Cowboys history. A history that includes a QB nicknamed “Captain Comeback” in Roger Staubach, a 3-time Super Bowl Champion in Troy Aikman, and the QB with the most game-winning drives since 2006 in Tony Romo. 

The same drunken contingent proclaiming Dak to be more clutch than those three aforementioned legends, in their very next sentence can often be heard predicting that Dak will sign a team friendly contract. 

I’m not seeing that at all. It’s going to be pricey. Very pricey. Kirk Cousins will make $28 Million dollars this season. Derek Carr will make $25M. Case Freakin Keenum will give the Broncos a $21M cap hit in 2019. Case Keenum!! 

Dak has outperformed all expectations. ALL. He slipped to the 4th round because few believed he could do what he’s doing. Even the team who at least believed enough to select him had him playing BEHIND Kellen Moore (who now holds a clipboard) and battling it out in a neck-and-neck slugfest for the 3rd string spot with Jameill Showers, who soon after was turned into a practice squad safety.

Then, when given the opportunity, Prescott went out and shocked the world. He absolutely balled out. 

So first of all... if you go around saying you’ve always been a “Dak guy” — that you’ve always known he would be this good — you’re either a Mississippi State alum, your last name is Prescott, or you are lying. 

What he’s accomplished has already been unfathomable. Much like the QB he replaced, he seemingly came out of nowhere. But now that we’ve established the miracle journey that got him here, let’s move on to the next item of business. To edit and repurpose the wise words of the great Beyoncé Knowles-Carter: “If you like it, then you better put a ring on it.” Or something like that. You get the idea.

Analyzing the pros and cons of Prescott’s talent bag is a bit of a bumpy ride. 

Flat out, he has thrived when not throwing interceptions, which to his credit, he rarely does. But then again, despite the Eagles game on Sunday, he’s not exactly asked to sling it around very often. 

He commands a conservative offense that features the league’s best running back, behind (when healthy) the league’s best offensive line — featuring a whopping FIVE players who all received 1st round consideration. Clearly the plan in Dallas is to run the ball, control the clock, not turn it over, and lean on the number 2 scoring defense in the NFL. 

While the Cowboys offense is a run-first attack with mostly short to medium yardage routes, to call Prescott a “bus driver” is to sell him short. That’s unfair. He’s more than that. But ‘how much more’ is a very important question. 

Although he’s not likely to get your fantasy draft room buzzing any time soon, undoubtedly, he thrives when the game is on the line. And even though it’s when receivers are most wide open that he frustrates fans the most, again.... unquestionably, in the biggest moments, he takes his game to its greatest heights. That is massively value. Call it clutch. Call it a slow heartbeat. Call it unicorn magic. Whatever. Dak has that.  

But he often holds the ball for too long, and as a result leads the league in sacks taken, with 48, and fumbles with 12.

But again... he makes clutch play after clutch play after clutch play. 

It’s a roller coaster. A lot to like. And a little bit less to make you scratch your head in confusion. But his expensive contract negotiation is unwilling to postpone the meeting and is closing in on the Jones boys like a freight train. 

Sure, they can wait a tiny bit longer. They can franchise tag. They can pray to Crazy Ray. But the rubber will soon meet the road on Dak’s future in Dallas. 

So... are you ready for the Cowboys to pay Dak Prescott somewhere between $24-$28 Mil per year? Or higher? How about $30M? I like what I see but can’t be sure I like it THAT much. I need more eyeball data. 

I’m pulling for Dak because he’s the type of human being who is easy to root for. Character, integrity, charisma, work ethic, heart, says the right things... he’s got it all. In terms of leadership, clutch play and an unrelenting will to win — he’s got a lot going for him. 

I’m just having butterflies at the altar because he still needs to (1) be more accurate, (2) stop taking so many sacks, (3) stop leading the NFL in fumbles, and (4) connect down the field more regularly with passes that travel over 20 yards so teams stop loading up the box to stop Zeke. 

The truth is Dak Prescott is neither as good or bad as the folks picketing either extreme make him out to be right now. He’s somewhere in the middle, standing on an incredibly impressive body of work, with plenty of room to grow. The good news is, at worst, he’s probably somewhere in the middle of the QB pack. At best, he’s a top 10 QB with every coveted intangible you could ever dream about your franchise QB possessing. 

In the time between now and the moment when Jerry takes a knee and proposes to Dak and his elite team of ninja-like super agents, here’s hoping his play on the field makes that massive decision much less complicated for the fan base who will have to live with it, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, forever... or until dead cap money do us part.