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Eatman: And That's Why Dak is Cowboys' QB1 


ARLINGTON, Texas – You might not like to hear it. You might not agree with it. And I'm pretty sure there will be times in the future where you're going to be mad about it.

But Dak Prescott is the quarterback of this football team. He's the starter right now. He'll be the guy next year and probably has a really nice payday awaiting him in the future that will make him QB1 in Dallas for years to come.

If you're asking yourself why, just watch the fourth quarter and overtime. That's the player the Cowboys want under center, and in the shotgun, and handling the ball on every snap.

Yeah, you can have the first three quarters. You can pinpoint to badly-thrown interceptions, fumbles in the pocket and even the deep balls that aren't completed.

But Jerry Jones won't be looking at them. Oh, he sees it. He saw many of the plays that nearly cost the Cowboys this much-needed game against the Eagles.

But I'm sorry, they will get trumped. Trumped by the plays he did make – the ones that put the Cowboys in the lead, and then in the lead again, and then to win the game in overtime.

It's as simple as the old "glass-half-full or glass-half-empty" debate. When it comes to his team, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys always seem to look at it being half-full.

And they're not wrong. At least, in my opinion, they aren't wrong.

Like him or not for what he isn't, Dak Prescott is a clear-cut winner. Since 1999, Dak is tied for fourth among QB wins in his first 45 starts. He's 30-15, tied with Andrew Luck, who just happens to be his next opponent on Sunday. The guys in front of him – Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson – have all made it to the Super Bowl.

And that's exactly where the Cowboys can go with Dak. I'm not sure that will ever happen, but you have to give him credit for his resiliency.

I think Cowboys fans just have to remember two facts:

He's not Troy Aikman. He's not Tony Romo.

That's not what this version of the Cowboys' starting quarterback is. This guy isn't always pretty when he throws it. He'll miss a wide open receiver when he's breaking away for a touchdown. He'll hold the ball too long in the pocket and fumble it away.

And like we saw on Sunday, he'll play about as poorly as one quarterback can play for three quarters, especially when his defense is absolutely doing everything in its power to dominate the game. But yet, Dak and the offense couldn't get it together.

About the time when my Twitter timeline was completely full of "Dak sucks" tweets, that's when he fired a strike to Amari Cooper for a 28-yard touchdown. It was easily his best throw of the day – until it wasn't. Dak did it again to Cooper, firing a 75-yard pass down the right sideline to give the Cowboys the lead again.

Time after time, when it seemed bleak, Prescott would rise to the challenge.

And let's not forget this: While he might've had the best offensive line in football when he was a rookie in 2016, that's not the case anymore. With injuries, more injuries, and maybe a little bit of aging taking place up front, this isn't the same group that helped the offense win 13 games two years ago.

Every game is a dogfight up front and Dak is being forced to make more plays. And this isn't by coincidence. NFL defensive coordinators know he's not the most accurate passer, especially in the pocket. They don't let him have the easy throws anymore to Beasley and, of course, Jason Witten. They want him to beat them down the field. Well, now that Cooper is here, we're seeing more of that. I still think at some point he'll find a connection with Michael Gallup, who seems to be open every week.

But this is just how it's going to be.

Your quarterback isn't going to set records every week throwing the ball up and down the field. Your quarterback isn't going to be a No. 1 QB for fantasy football.

But there's more to this guy than the stats. And that's why Jason Garrett broke his character a little bit – at least his on-camera, at-the-podium character – when he was asked to assess Prescott's performance:

"You talk about mental toughness, that guy we've got playing quarterback for us, he's a tough son of a bitch. You saw that today. You saw the physical toughness. You saw the mental toughness and you saw him throughout the game overcome adversity and make the critical plays at critical moments."

I think what Garrett said pretty much sums up everything that Dak Prescott has been since he got here.

And in this case, I don't disagree.

Because I'll take the three quarters of football if I can get that guy in the fourth quarter and overtime. And I realize that type of football will get you beat.

But I'll take my chances.