Mac Engel

Players ‘respect’ Dak Prescott, but they aren’t ‘afraid’ of him, NBC NFL analyst says

The knock on your undefeated Dallas Cowboys is they have defeated the equivalent of the Pac 12 North, but Rodney Harrison isn’t buying that, while maintaining the best way to beat them is to make Dak Prescott prove he can do it.

The former NFL safety and current studio analyst on NBC’s “Football Night in America” is never shy to express his thoughts, which (to my delight) often irritates the life out of viewers.

“The thing is most guys, they respect Dak Prescott, but you are not afraid of Dak Prescott,” Harrison said in an interview Friday.

He will be in studio for the NBC telecast for the Cowboys’ game in New Orleans on Sunday night against the Saints.

“You respect him, but is this truly the new Dak, or has he just played against bad teams? I am proud of him. I have always loved the way that he has been professional and humble. He is a very focused kid.”

Harrison is not exactly throwing shade at the future Hall of Fame Cowboys’ quarterback. What he is saying is that the best way to beat the Cowboys remains to make Dak beat you.

It’s the same plan that worked so well in the L.A. Rams’ win over the Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Round in January.

“You have to try to take away that run game, but that offensive line has been great,” he said. “If you want any chance of stopping Dallas, you have to stop (running back) Ezekiel Elliott. But you are not going to completely stop him. You have to make them pass the ball. You have to force Dak to be the quarterback you want him to be and throw it 30 to 40 times a game.”

Prescott’s season high in pass attempts this year is 32, twice. He has thrown nine touchdowns, two interceptions and has been sacked twice.

So far, nothing has remotely jarred him.

Programming note: We have arrived at the point in this column that Dak’s opponents must be noted. He has played the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins. Those three teams are a combined 1-8, and they are not as good as this record might indicate.

“He has progressed to the point where he is looking (defenders) off and he is holding the ball the right way,” Harrison said. “His receivers are fast and athletic. He feels like no matter where the play is, he trusts all of his guys. He is not afraid to throw the ball down the field, and that’s where he has really grown.”

Now here is the kicker.

Why have the Cowboys started out so well, and specifically Dak Prescott?

“It all starts with Kellen Moore,” Harrison said of the first-year offensive coordinator. “He’s really changed that offense.”

The players themselves don’t necessarily agree with this, but the people love Kellen Moore as if he is their newborn child. And Harrison is a buyer in Kellen Moore Inc.

“They’re passing it on first down. He’s giving Dak that freedom, and you can see he just looks so comfortable in that offense,” Harrison said. “Kellen Moore has come in there and given them an injection of energy and creativity.”

The best way to beat the Cowboys, per Rodney Harrison, is to try stop Zeke. But Kellen ‘n’ Dak have the answer.

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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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