How ’bout them Cowboys?

The Dallas Cowboys’ decision to sign Andy Dalton to a one-year deal may have been nothing more than an insurance policy in case Dak Prescott doesn’t sign a long-term contract. I expect Prescott will sign a multi-year deal before the July 15 deadline, but I also believe he’s not the quarterback that will lead them to another Super Bowl.

Please understand that I’m not saying Dalton is that guy, although the difference between the two quarterbacks is less than you might think. What I’m saying is that Dalton could be the guy to build a bridge to finding that guy. In the meantime, Dalton is good enough to put them back in the playoffs – even if Prescott decides not to play for the Cowboys.

After a good draft last month, and with a good coach now on the sidelines, the Cowboys are a playoff team capable of going deep into the playoffs. There is a general consensus on this point. However, analysts are divided on Prescott. I think he’s the weak link. Exhibit A is his performance in the biggest game of the 2019 season in Philadelphia.

Facing an Eagles team without their elite tight end, Zach Ertz, and wideouts Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor, the Cowboys somehow lost that game. Carson Wentz, still managed to pass for 319 yards, on 31 for 40 passing. Prescott had his worst game of the year, with 265 yards, on 25 for 44 passing. The final score was 17-9.

The Prescott apologists will argue that the Eagles game was just one blemish in an otherwise brilliant season. He threw for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns, and completed 65.1 percent of his passes. Including the Eagles game, Prescott had four other chances to lead the Cowboys to victory in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter. He was 0-5.

The Cowboys were the only team I watched weekly last year on the way to an 8-8 record. I  remember all too well week 4 in New Orleans when the Cowboys were down by two and Prescott ended the game with a pick. There were three more games later when they could have won, or tied, on the final drive and turned the ball over on downs.

Although the two quarterbacks are a contrast in styles, Prescott is no more clutch than former Cowboys signal-caller Tony Romo, who had the fourth best career passer rating in NFL history. Romo, a much better pocket passer than Prescott, was 2-4 (.333) in playoff games during a career that spanned a decade. Prescott is 1-2 (.333) over his five years.

Time after time, I have watched Prescott deliver the ball late, or throw behind his receiver. There have been other times when he’s had an open player downfield and underthrown him. Even when the receiver caught the underthrown pass, he had to come back to the ball to snag it. A well-thrown pass would have resulted in a touchdown.

After the 2020 draft, the Cowboys have one of the best receiving corps in the game. The acquisition of wide receiver CeeDee Lamb with the 17th pick in the draft was a surprise – not because of the fact that the Cowboys took him but because he was still on the board. This was simply a player they couldn’t pass up in spite of not needing another wideout.

I didn’t expect the Cowboys to take Lamb after they signed Amari Cooper for $1 billion, and with promising wideout Michael Gallup. Remember, while everyone in the fantasy and reality realms were talking about Cooper, Gallup finished 2019 with 66 catches on 113 targets for 1,107 yards and six TDs. That’s more than double his rookie production.

Speaking of fantasy and reality, here is where my two worlds collide. In reality, I believe Prescott is not going to lead the Cowboys, or any other team, to the promised. There are fourteen quarterbacks still active in in the NFL that have won more playoff games than Prescott, including Nick Foles and Blake Bortles. Foles has even won a Super Bowl.

On the fantasy side, it’s hard to make a case for Prescott not being one of the top fantasy quarterbacks in 2020. That’s because he’s got Cooper, Gallup and Lamb running routes, and Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield. Prescott was the No. 2 quarterback in fantasy points scored last year, trailing only the extraterrestrial known to some as Lamar Jackson.

 

 

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