Mac Engel

Cowboys great offers blunt assessment of Dak: ‘I don’t know if he’ll ever get there’

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott says it was important to get 10th win and carry momentum into playoffs

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott says it was important to get 10th win and carry momentum into playoffs
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Cowboys QB Dak Prescott says it was important to get 10th win and carry momentum into playoffs

Darren Woodson created quite the ripple when he told Stephen A. Smith on his ESPN show that Dak Prescott is not better than Tony Romo, which should upset no one because Woody is right.

At this point, Dak is not a better passer than Tony Romo. He may never be.

By the time Romo’s body quit on him, his ability as a passer was nearly perfect. He was no longer taking unnecessary risks that too frequently killed both he and his team, and he could put it wherever he wanted.

“Tony was magic with the ball,” the Ring of Honor safety said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “But I’m telling you, (the Cowboys) believe in Dak. All of them.”

Dak is not there yet. And because of that Woodson’s assessment of how the Seattle Seahawks will beat the Cowboys, or the Cowboys will beat the Seahawks, should scare every Cowboys fan.

“Can he consistently throw it in tight windows? Because right now there is nothing consistent about his game,” Woodson said. “If you are looking at him as an elite passer, he’s not there yet and I don’t know if he will ever get there. He’s going to have to prove it to me.”


Woodson firmly believes that if the Cowboys are to defeat the Seahawks, Dak must run.

“They have to use his legs,” Woodson said. “And if I’m Seattle I make him beat them with his arm. It’s, ‘We’ll take the chance with you being accurate with the ball,’ and that’s how you play Dak. Seattle is going to double Amari Cooper and make him go to Michael Gallup or somebody else because they are not going to allow Zeke Elliott to beat them.”

In the Cowboys’ 24-13 loss in Seattle in Week 3, Dak ran it twice. Zeke ran for more than 100 yards, but the game was a pitiful display by an offense that did not have Cooper yet, and was no threat.

In a playoff win or two, a running quarterback works. A quarterback whose featured method of moving the ball with his legs has never won a Super Bowl.

Mobile quarterbacks with good feet who can run win Super Bowls. Quarterbacks who must run in order to be successful have never won a Super Bowl.

Fran Tarkenton got there. So did Cam Newton. By the time Steve Young won a Super Bowl, he was no longer an active runner.

Running the ball for anyone simply does not age well in football. So Dak can run now because he is 25, but eventually his body will tell him to stop.

There are but a few of these men on the planet who can pass a ball the way it needs to be thrown to win a Super Bowl. Right now, there are maybe eight.

History says if the Cowboys are going to win a Super Bowl with Dak, the team will not need him to run the ball to score points. He will need to pass his way to points.

At the moment, call Woodson skeptical that Dak can do it that way.

“I’m not sure if they ask Dak to do it he can because those windows are going to be tight,” Woodson said. “Seattle can really cover on the outside. The pass he made against the Giants (in Week 17) to win that game, I don’t see that coming against the Seahawks.”


Woodson’s plan for the Cowboys defeating Seattle comes down not to Dak but Zeke.

“Ezekiel Elliott is going to have be fully engaged as a runner and a receiver,” Woody said. “Dak in the read-option and it’s third-and-2, they need him to just go get it. To me, that’s the key.”

Nothing terribly complicated, of course. The team is built on that premise.

“And on the flip side, they can’t give up a big play,” he said. “If they are going to win, they have make Seattle go 30 plays. I don’t care how long it takes but make them drive it, and nothing to Tyler Lockett down the field. Those (receivers) cannot be a factor.”

There you have it, from one of the great Cowboys who offers his blunt assessment of Dak, and the team’s chances to win a playoff game.

The homer in me is desperate to see the Cowboys win and go on a January run they have not done since Woody was a player in 1996.

The hardened, increasingly wise and significantly better looking version of me knows what’s coming: Crushing disappointment because Russell Wilson will out-play Dak, followed by an offseason of Dak criticism and Dak hate.

(The Vegas line opened at Cowboys minus-3 and now it’s down to 1.5. If I had $100 to put on this game, give me Seattle and take the under, 43. When these bets ruin your kid’s college education fund, we don’t know each other.)

My heart wants Woodson to be so wrong, but my constantly changing gut says he’s right about Dak. That this is a good NFL quarterback who wins, but whose wart will prevent him from winning the Super Bowl.

The Cowboys believe in Dak because they are convinced he has “It,” and because he is a likeable guy who you want to see win. It’s on him to prove the rest wrong.

FW Star-Telegram sports columnist Mac Engel rings in the new year with a new Mean Tweets as read by his 9-year-old daughter.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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