The Big Mac Blog

Why Dak can do it in the postseason

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott enters his first playoffs after posting the best season ever by an NFL rookie passer.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott enters his first playoffs after posting the best season ever by an NFL rookie passer. rrodriguez@star-telegram.com

The day Jason Garrett announced that Tony Romo suffered a broken bone in his back, I wrote, “A generous estimate for Romo’s return is Oct. 30, the week after the bye, against the Philadelphia Eagles. Can you imagine the controversy if Dak (Prescott) is playing well?”

That day, Aug. 27, I asked Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne his reaction to the news that Romo was out.

“I don’t think it’s something you can prepare for — it’s bad news either way you go,” Claiborne said. “I don’t want to say extra pressure is on (the defense), but it is.”

I also wrote, “Who are we kidding? The Cowboys have had seven rookie quarterbacks start and only one has had a winning record — Roger Staubach was 1-0 in 1969. The winningest Cowboys rookie QB was Quincy Carter, who went 3-5 in 2001.

“The 2016 season is now entirely about the development of Prescott, and the two-pronged prayer he will be good enough to keep the Cowboys from football implosion until Romo returns.”

(Yep - knocked that one right out of the park. Again.)

The only morsel of truth that gave me pause to think Dak could do this was the fact he won big at Mississippi State, which scientists for years had argued was mathematically impossible.

One 13-3 record later and exactly the scenario precisely no one envisioned is here - the Cowboys are the best team in the NFC with Romo’s butt having created an impression on nothing but the bench.

However ... through no fault of his own, Dak scares me to death. A rookie has a keys to a team that is good enough to reach, and win, a Super Bowl. To reach said Super Bowl he will likely have to beat Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan or Eli Manning. And then, if Dak survives that combination of opposing QBs, he will likely face Darth Vader - aka Tom Brady.

Remember the first time Luke Skywalker faced Vader? Darth cut off his hand and then told him he was his father. Luke was in counseling for years.

Despite the fact the Cowboys finished with the best record in the NFC season, due in large part to Prescott, the quarterback is the single biggest worry for team entering the playoffs.

Games are about to turn tight, whistles swallowed and space much more difficult to find or in which to move.

The Cowboys won in their regular season because of Dak, their offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott, but they won’t win in the playoffs without real plays from their passer.

Dak repeatedly proved throughout the season he can make a play, sometimes when there was none, but can he do it in these new conditions?Can he make the play when the Cowboys need it for another point, or a first down, when not to means playoff death?

After what he did in 2016 - put together the best season ever by an NFL rookie quarterback - we can’t toss him into the same file that says all rookie passers in the playoffs bomb. No QB has ever done what he just did, so if this theme continues he will set a precedent in the playoffs, too.

What he did this season was not an accident, and if he can do what no rookie has ever done in the regular season he can do it again in the postseason. Remember - this guy won at Mississippi State.

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Star Telegram sports columnist Mac Engel reports from the Cowboys' regular season finale loss in Philadelphia where Tony Romo finally played (video by Mac Engel/Star-Telegram).

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