Mac Engel

For the Cowboys, it’s not about Zeke but if Dak is good enough for a Super Bowl

Before introducing his latest addition to the Dallas Cowboys team store and his, “Zeke Who?” T-shirt, Jerry Jones boasted he thinks the Cowboys “Can take it to the house with Zeke.”

That (should) mean the Super Bowl, but with Dak. Not Zeke.

If the Cowboys are to advance to an NFC title game, and or, God forbid, the Super Bowl, Zeke Elliott will be a complementary player and Dak Prescott will be The Star.

Quarterback rules in a quarterback league.

Zeke is great, and the only question about the Cowboys is whether Dak Prescott is too.

He is a great guy who is well-liked, but is he good enough to do this?

In re-watching the absolute garbage dump that was the Cowboys’ playoff loss to the L.A. Rams in January, two elements still stand out: The defense was emasculated, and Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips dared Dak to beat him.

He tried, and he couldn’t. The Cowboys did not move the ball much until they trailed 23-7, and then things loosened up.

Months later and Dak is fresh out of excuses.

He has a happy, running back in his prime. He no longer is “saddled with” Scott Linehan as his play-caller. He has a head coach who is coaching for his job. He has one of the best wide receivers in the game.

His entire Pro Bowl offensive line is back, and currently healthy.

And he is about to make a decent amount of money.

Since entering the league in 2016 he has had the benefit of starting for a good team, something young quarterbacks seldom to never do. Young quarterbacks typically inherit dud rosters.

Dak inherited a good team, and it’s run well since he started. The team is 32-16 with Dak starting, and they have two NFC East titles.

He has been an efficient player, and is a good quarterback.

“It’s that command. His command of the whole deal. He has such comfort level of what we are doing, and a command of his teammates,” said first-year offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who has known Dak since he entered the league. “His voice. His presence. I think everyone feels very confident when he goes out there.”

What Dak has not done is take the average receiver, or team, and make them better. The top quarterbacks elevate the average receiver and drop the ball in his lap for major plays to win a game.

The top quarterbacks can push average to good, and good to great.

That remains on Dak’s to-do list.

The feeling about Dak from the Cowboys is that he is their guy for the future, and that what we see today is an unfinished passer.

There is complete faith that he can, and will, become a top passer.

In training camp, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett spoke of a young John Elway in his career; that when he came out of Stanford, often his best passing plays came when he broke the pocket and made throws on the run.

Any comparison to a passer like Elway is cruel, but that’s not the parallel. The comparison is the young passer who is more comfortable, and often better, making a throw while on the move.

At some point, Dak will have to stay put and be able to throw it around from the pocket. Age usually dictates that.

Right now, he’s only 26 and can still move around well.

He has the complete faith of his employer, and his head coach.

He is surrounded by players, by talent, and the best running back in the NFL.

But if the Cowboys are to take it to the house, it has to be Dak who does it.

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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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