Mac Engel

Tony Dungy: ‘I’m buyin’ the Cowboys.’ But what about Dak Prescott?

Tony Dungy is a big advocate of the move to re-sign Tank Lawrence, wholly endorses Amari Cooper, and when asked if he’s “buying the Dallas Cowboys,” there is an unmistakable stop.

“They are in a tough division,” he said.

This sounds like recommending a cheeseburger because it’s free.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and top analyst for NBC’s NFL coverage was in Fort Worth on Tuesday to do what he does best: Advocate for dads to spend time with their loved ones, families and children. Dungy is the rare breed who, when he retired, said he wanted to spend more time with his family and actually meant it.

Dungy and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price unveiled a program that encourages local dads and their kids to read together this summer; the initiative will establish “All Pro Dad” chapters at 21 Fort Worth community centers.

(As a side note, I will never forget the summer my mom forced me to read “Treasure Island” with her. I would have preferred to have my toes yanked off, but the experience of going over every word that I didn’t know, and learning them, was invaluable).

After what feels like 14 months, the NFL Draft week is here.

Whereas before the start of the 2018 NFL season Dungy expressed concerns about the Cowboys, there is something about his tone and his words that says he’s not quite all in, but he is undeniably optimistic about the quarterback’s main issue.

“I like some of the moves they made. I like (receiver) Amari Cooper. He helps them tremendously,” he said. “So ... uhm ... yeah, I buyin’ them.”

Tony D sounds like a guy who had to be pressed on this.

“No, I like the Cowboys,” he said, “but, I like a lot of teams.”

About the tough division: The Washington Redskins would be a dynamic team in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (NCAA D-III). The New York Giants don’t want to hurt Eli Manning’s feelings, so they are not much of a threat. The Philadelphia Eagles are the potential problem.

The other problem is the Cowboys have never made the playoffs in consecutive years under Jason Garrett. You may remember the team made the playoffs last season.

And then the “other” problem is the evolution of a certain quarterback.

The polarization of Dak Prescott will remain a trend for the Cowboys, right up until it’s not. The “problem” for Dak is can he do more than what he has done, and specifically make the type of passes necessary to win the biggest, most difficult, games?

In the Cowboys’ NFC Divisional playoff loss to the L.A. Rams back in January, Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips dared Dak to beat his defense. Dak could not do it.

Although the stats back up Dak’s passes, he has a career 66.1 percentage completion, the concerns remain some decision-making, and accuracy.

There is the school of thought that says this sort of accuracy can’t be taught; God gives it to a few, and the rest are mortals.

“The No. 1 thing a quarterback needs is accuracy, and that’s where Dak has to keep developing that accuracy,” Dungy said. “That’s what is going to take him to the next level. The thing that I see is poise. I see confidence. I see the team has confidence in him, and that’s the biggest part of it.

“There is a belief there that he fosters, and he has the poise that nothing seems to rattle him.”

In Dungy’s extensive career, be it as a player or a Super Bowl winning head coach, he has been around the good, the bad, and the brilliant passers.

By this point, when a passer is already an established pro, can he become a more accurate passer the way Dak needs?

“The more you throw, the more you work at it, the more you need to be accurate and a lot of that helps,” he said. “It’s like a basketball player; yes, you either are a good shooter, or you aren’t. But good shooters get better because they practice more. They shoot the shots they are going to shoot in the game. You find your sweet spot, and you shoot more from that spot.

“That’s coaching. There are ways you can help accuracy. Now, some guys are never going to be 90 percent, 80 percent or 70 percent passers. But you can, by concentrating and doing what you do well and staying within yourself, you can ramp that accuracy up.”

From a Hall of Fame coach to your eyes and ears.

Tony Dungy “buys” the Cowboys, and he thinks Dak can become a more accurate passer.

Like the rest of us, we all just need a little more convincing, too.

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