Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made it clear that rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has his full support.
Jones has praised veteran quarterback Tony Romo of late, keeping alive the Cowboys’ quarterback controversy in the midst of a rough patch by Prescott.
But Jones attempted to clarify his standpoint Thursday night as the organization unveiled 14 new retailers at The Star.
“We completely support Dak as our starting quarterback. Unequivocally. That’s that,” Jones said. “There is no issue there at all. It’s very fortunate that we have depth there. And you certainly got depth in a big way when you got Tony Romo sitting there. That is not trying to be cute. It’s absolutely in our best interest that Dak, who is absolutely playing at a level for a rookie that has probably never been seen.
“We want him to be able to use that and to some degree of it to help us go all the way to the Super Bowl.”
Jones found himself on the defensive for his comments in recent weeks.
Jones said earlier this week that they “will know it when they see it” if it’s time to switch Prescott with Romo, calling it a “legitimate discussion.” He also has said it’d be a “story for the ages” if Romo would come in and lead the team on a championship run.
Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman became the strongest voice to come down on Jones, saying he was “dumbfounded” by Jones’ comments.
“I’m not sure that Tony, if it was left up to the owner, wouldn’t be the starter now, just based on the comments that I’ve heard in the last couple weeks,” Aikman said on KTCK-AM 1310 The Ticket. “I’m just really dumbfounded by the comments, and not only the first time, but why they continue.
“I don’t understand why you would talk.”
Jones, though, dismissed Aikman’s criticism.
“He might have had sensitivity, but Dak doesn’t,” Jones said. “I’m serious. I don’t mean that negatively. I appreciate him saying it. I respect him. But Dak Prescott’s No. 1 quality is that he doesn’t get distracted.”
Jones went on to say that he’s intrigued by the idea that Prescott could become the first rookie quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl. Romo has never reached the NFC Championship Game in his career.
Romo’s postseason shortcomings remain a sore subject for Cowboys brass. This is a guy who is the franchise leader in passing yards (34,154), passing touchdowns (247), passer rating (97.1), completion percentage (65.3) and most 3,000-yard passing seasons (seven).
“Obviously it stings that we don’t have a championship [with Romo], and I know Jerry and I both wear that heavily in terms of the fact that we haven’t been able to get the right team around him so that he could win one, because he obviously has all the skills to do it,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “It’s difficult. No question. No one wanted to get his hands on this team more than he did. Things happen for a reason and obviously that was a very unfortunate freak injury that happened to him in Seattle.
“It’s fortunate but misfortune in terms of Tony that obviously we found a very special football player at quarterback in Dak.”
Romo, 36, missed 12 games last season with a twice-fractured collarbone and was inactive the first nine weeks this season after sustaining a compression fracture in his lower back in the third preseason game at Seattle.
But the quarterback controversy has only gained steam in recent weeks because of Jerry Jones’ comments, even forcing coach Jason Garrett to address it multiple times during his news conference.
“We talk about the importance of being focused with our team right from the start,” Garrett said. “And we talk about it at start of the season and certainly every week to get your mindset, your mentality right. It’s an important word for everybody, coaches and players alike. So that’s not new this year. That’s not new this week. It’s really an important thing to be your best, to focus on the right things and we try to do that each and every day.”
As Jones said, Prescott has the ability to block out noise, and the quarterback doesn’t seem bothered by what some may perceive as controversial statements.
That’s what has the locker room behind him, too.
“Anytime you lose people on the outside seem to point out blame at that position,” tight end Jason Witten said. “We all have to be better. If you look at that offensive performance we all understand that. He is not a rookie anymore.
“A lot of that is for people at the barbershop to talk about. For him, he comes back to work and continues to try to get better. He works hard. He is good communicating. He has had two good days [of practice].”
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