Watching Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott operate in the first quarter Saturday night brought to mind some old Bob Marley lyrics.
“Singin’ ‘Don’t worry about a thing, worry about a thing, oh!
“Every little thing gonna be alright. Don’t worry!’ ”
That was the message sent in the Cowboys’ 24-19 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the preseason home opener at AT&T Stadium.
It was the first action of the preseason for Prescott, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and the front-line stars on offense.
They took the field without star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who has been suspended for the first six games of the regular season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Elliott is appealing the suspension, but all signs point to him missing games, causing a significant amount of worry about the Cowboys’ ability to not only survive but thrive without him.
Thrive is the only satisfactory option for a team looking to build on last year’s 13-3 season and reach the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1995 season.
If first impressions are worth anything, then “don’t worry, every little thing is gonna be alright.”
Prescott had a brilliant first impression in the preseason opener last year and turned it into perhaps the best rookie season of any quarterback in NFL history.
The absence of Elliott means more pressure on Prescott to perform.
Prescott showed last year that pressure doesn’t faze him. He not only replaced all-time leading passer Tony Romo, but also sent him into retirement.
His play in two series of work Saturday was smooth and looked effortless.
Prescott completed 7 of 8 passes for 108 yards and a 32-yard touchdown pass on a back-shoulder throw to Bryant.
“It felt great. I was ready to play a lot more than I did,” Prescott said. “It was good to get back out there.”
All the worries in the off-season, well before the worries about Elliott’s suspension, about Prescott having a sophomore slump, may have been cast aside.
Many worried that Prescott would slump like former Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, the thinking being he couldn’t possibly be as good as he showed as a rookie and teams had a year to figure him out.
Well, the regular season is not here yet, but indications are, don’t worry about a thing.
What made Prescott good last year was his preparation, work ethic and unflappable demeanor. Add in an increased knowledge of the offense and you get a perfect passer rating against the Colts.
The opening play was a perfect example.
With a first-and-10 at the 5, Prescott hit Bryant for 23 yards. Prescott them completed passes of 7 and 17 yards to Witten before finding Bryant for the 32-yard touchdown pass.
All told, Prescott marched the Cowboys 95 yards on seven plays.
Remember when there was so much worry about Prescott’s inability to go deep and his lack of chemistry with Bryant?
That was another don’t worry.
If there was anyone who had a training camp matching Prescott’s play, it was an injury-free Bryant. The two have the potential to be unstoppable.
“I don’t know if I can honestly put it into words just how much better of a player he is, and we were just talking about how good his body feels,” Prescott said. “He’s just a much better player right now than what he was last year at this time. Our chemistry is growing, so it’s fun.”
The second drive was similarly methodical as Prescott’s passing loosened things up for running back Darren McFadden, who will start in place of Elliott.
McFadden had runs of 6, 11, 11and 14 yards to power an 11-play drive that ended with him fumbling just 12 yards from the end zone.
Prescott completed 3 of 4 passes, including two for 23 yards to slot receiver Cole Beasley.
That was it for the night for Prescott. It was brief. But it was large in its impact, and it sent a message.
“A lot more confidence; a lot more knowledge in what I’m doing,” Prescott said. “I’m just going out there and trying to give all these guys on offense a chance with the ball.”
Don’t worry. Every little thing is going to be alright.