Is Dak Prescott the Cowboys’ True Starting Quarterback?

Photo Credit: The Gospel Herald

Back in week 2 of the 2001 season, New England Patriots’ quarterback Drew Bledsoe was hit by New York Jets’ linebacker Mo Lewis and suffered a sheared blood vessel in his chest. Quarterback Tom Brady was brought in, and he took over and led the Patriots franchise to their first Super Bowl championship, and his first of four with the team, which is tied for an NFL record.

Towards the end of this preseason, Dallas Cowboys’ long-time starting quarterback Tony Romo broke a bone in his back. The Cowboys tried to shop around for a quarterback since backup quarterback Kellen Moore suffered a broken ankle before Romo’s injury. They were able to acquire Mark Sanchez, who was released by the Denver Broncos, but head coach Jason Garrett decided to put his rookie quarterback Dak Prescott under center in week 1 against the New York Giants.

Prescott, 23, was selected in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft with the 135th overall pick out of Mississippi State. He was the 8th quarterback selected in the draft, and he was set to start the Cowboys’ season opener against the Giants, their fierce rival.

In the season-opening 20-19 loss to the Giants, Prescott was not bad at all, but he was far from impressive. He completed 55.6% of his passes for 227 yards, and he ran for 12 yards. He did not directly account for any of the Cowboys’ points.

He ended up keeping the starting quarterback role in week 2 against the Washington Redskins, and he scored his first career touchdown on the ground. He played a lot better in this game, completing 73.3% of his passes for 292 yards and running in a 6-yard touchdown. Prescott proved in this game that he deserved to be the starting quarterback in Romo’s absence until he returned around week 8.

The weeks following that game against the Redskins just got better for Prescott. He put up nine total touchdowns and threw only one interception in the following four games against the Chicago Bears, the San Francisco 49ers, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Green Back Packers. He led the Cowboys to a 5-1 start, giving them more wins this season than all of last season already, and he did it with Cowboys’ star wide receiver Dez Bryant sidelined for much of the time with a knee injury.

Prescott’s amazing rookie numbers, 1,486 passing yards, 10 total touchdowns, and just two turnovers, through six weeks of play bring up the question of whether or not he should be the starting quarterback when Romo returns from his injury.

Romo, 36, was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL two seasons ago, leading the team to a 12-4 season. Last season, however, he suffered multiple injuries and finished with more interceptions than touchdowns, and the team suffered because of it, finishing with a 4-12 record.

Despite an awful record without Romo over the past decade, the Cowboys seem to have found success without him so far this season, and that is, in a large part, thanks to Dak Prescott. He has done what no other Cowboys’ backup quarterback has been able to do in the Romo era, and that is win games regularly. He has won five straight. With the Cowboys on bye this week, that means Romo may be healthy enough to return as the team’s starting quarterback in week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Will Prescott have an opportunity to make it six, or will Romo return as the starter?

With Romo aging, I think the smartest move by the Cowboys would be to keep Prescott as their starting quarterback. Even if Romo is 100% healthy, which would be a miracle given his injury-filled career, Prescott is the better option. He presents a much better running threat to defenses than Romo does, and he has more chemistry with this year’s Cowboys’ offense, which is powered by rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, who leads the NFL with over 700 rushing yards already. He can also continue to build that chemistry for the future since he is only 23 years old. Romo does not have the advantage of being young and having potential that Prescott does.

Another reason why Prescott should maintain his starting role is the fact that Romo was just plain bad last season in the few games that he did play, throwing five touchdowns compared to seven interceptions. Prescott, however, does not turn the ball over. He has only turned the ball over in one of his six games this season, doing so twice against the Packers in the form of an interception and a fumble.

The Cowboys’ organization must decide between two quarterbacks who have both proven to be beneficial to the team in their time behind center. However, one has far more potential than the other, and that happens to be the one with the hot hand right now, not the one coming off of yet another injury. Although Romo has far more experience in the NFL than Prescott does, Prescott is the clear choice to be the Cowboys’ starting quarterback because of how well he has played to start his NFL career, how well the Cowboys are doing with him as the starter, and because of the potential he has with the team and the chemistry he has already built up with his teammates in only six games.

-Asher Fair