Players to watch: Cowboys vs. Rams
Shortly after leading the Dallas Cowboys to a 24-20 wild-card victory against the Seattle Seahawks and earning his first playoff victory, Dak Prescott received a text message from Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman.
Aikman, who did the game as part of the FOX broadcaster crew, told Prescott: “First postseason win of many.”
He expanded on the text to Prescott on his radio show on 1310 The Ticket Tuesday.
“I really believe that,” said Aikman, who led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s. “He’s going to be the Cowboys quarterback for a long time, and he’s going to find himself winning a lot of football games in January going forward.”
Aikman has been bullish on Prescott’s future as the Cowboys QB since he took over for Tony Romo in 2016 and had the finest rookie season of any quarterback in NFL history.
But Aikman did express some concerns about Prescott’s accuracy earlier this season. He offered these comments during his radio show after a 19-16 loss to the Houston Texans in October when Prescott completed just 18 of 29 passes (62.1 percent) for 208 yards and a touchdown against two interceptions to post a 66.5 passer rating: “I’ve said for many, many years, as long as I can ever remember when I’m asked, ‘Hey, what do you look for first in a quarterback?’” Aikman said. “The first thing I look for is accuracy, because the rest of it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how tough you are. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or what a great leader you are.
“None of that stuff matters if you can’t put the ball where you have to put it and I’ve seen too many errant throws in that regard, and then there needs to be a little more anticipation. When there’s two deep safeties, you’re looking for somebody to take the middle of the field, and that should be your first read if you have somebody who is taking the middle of the field versus those kinds of looks.
“I don’t see great anticipation on what a defense is doing and how might I be able to exploit that pre-snap or as the ball is snapped. And then, of course, they struggled running the football as well, which is their identity. So, that’s kind of my thoughts after going back and reviewing the film from the other night and where some areas are that they need to be better at.”
But Aikman came full circle following the 29-23 overtime victory against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 9. Prescott finished with a career-high 455 yards on 42 of 54 passing and four touchdowns. He overcame two interceptions and a fumble to complete 17 of 20 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and overtime in leading the Cowboys to a comeback victory.
Aikman said Prescott’s ability to handle and overcome adversity allowed him to pass the test of what it means to be a quarterback.
“When you start evaluating Dak Prescott and whether to sign him to the big contract, which Jerry has already said he’s going to do, that’s a big factor in that,” Aikman said. “Not only how he’s playing but also does he have the makeup to be able to handle thing when it’s not going well?
“As a quarterback, I know those are tough Monday mornings. But I’ve said it many, many times: Dak’s the last guy that I’d worry about within that organization when it comes to those types of things. He’s a terrific guy. I think the world of him and wouldn’t hesitate one minute in having him continue to be the face of the franchise.”
Now Aikman predicts many January playoff victories for Prescott.
Of course, what would really set him apart is getting one or two in February when the Super Bowl is held.
Aikman is in the Hall of Fame because he has three.