The Dallas Cowboys’ fourth-round rookie Dak Prescott has taken the NFL by storm in his 10 starts this season. Originally brought in to support the Cowboys’ oft-injured quarterback Tony Romo, Prescott has now surpassed all expectations to replace the potential Hall of Fame player as a starter on a playoff-bound Dallas team.
With Romo at the helm at the start of the 2015-2016 season, hopes were high. He was the reigning Offensive Player of the Year and the Cowboys were Super Bowl contenders. But after a 2-0 start to the season, Romo suffered a fractured clavicle, removing him for the rest of the year. Dallas then finished 2015-16 with a paltry 4-12 record behind their backup quarterbacks. The disastrous results showed just how lost the Cowboys were without their quarterback. As Romo had not played a full season since 2012, eccentric team owner and General Manager Jerry Jones learned he could no longer rely on Romo’s failing body. The organization would need a suitable insurance policy.
In this year’s NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected Ezekiel Elliott, an immensely talented running back from The Ohio State University with the fourth overall pick. By drafting a running back, the Cowboys hoped to take the pressure off their fragile quarterback with a strong ground game. But the organization’s plans were derailed when Romo was injured again in a preseason game against Seattle. With backup quarterback Kellen Moore also injured, the Cowboys were forced to hand the starting quarterback role to their untested fourth-round pick from Mississippi State, Dak Prescott.
Going into the draft, most experts believed Prescott had bad mechanics, inaccurate deep passing, and was unreliable under pressure. Additionally, a DUI charge only weeks before the NFL Draft made teams questions Prescott’s character. It didn’t matter that he was acquitted of the charge; the damage had already been done. The Cowboys even dropped Prescott by a round in their draft boards, but decided to take a chance on him after Head Coach Jason Garrett drilled him about the DUI in pre-draft interviews.
Prescott turned out to be exactly what the franchise needed. His play was exceptional during the preseason and he seemed like a bonafide star in the making. But, still, no one expected Prescott to be so successful as a rookie quarterback. The Cowboys now had a problem when Romo returned to full fitness in week 11; when healthy, he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. However, Prescott has led this team to a 9-1 record. The organization does not want to mess with a working formula. As the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, dont fix it. This situation put Jones and Garrett into a precarious position. They needed to decide who would be the team's starter going forward, the rising Dak Prescott or established Tony Romo.
The Cowboys eventually decided to stick with Prescott. The rookie has found ways to win week in and week out and brings aspects to the offence that Romo cannot. Prescott breaks outside the pocket, runs for extra yards, and constantly makes tacklers miss. He dominated talented Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals defences to lead Dallas to an 8-1 record.
Yes, running back Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL’s best offensive line, and a talented group of pass-catchers have taken some of the pressure off the young quarterback’s shoulders. But Prescott has equally galvanized the Cowboys in return and has formed fantastic chemistry with the established stars on the team. From day one, Prescott has been a leader in the locker room and the entire team plays hard with him on the field. If he continues his top-notch play, Prescott’s season will become the gold standard for all rookie quarterbacks in the NFL. Akin to Tom Brady supplanting Drew Bledsoe as the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback in 2001, Prescott has made the Cowboys great again.