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Eatman: Easier To Help Dak Than Replace Him

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FRISCO, Texas – The frustration is everywhere.

I know the fans think it’s just with them and no one else really feels it, but that’s not the case.

You can see frustration throughout the offices at The Star, in the locker room, on the team planes and definitely in press conferences.

Jerry Jones sounded frustrated in the line of questioning about his quarterback earlier this week, prompting him to emphatically state that Dak Prescott is the quarterback of this team now and for the future. He also said he’s going to get an extension. The tone of his answer sounded like he was being a little defiant, but in no way do I think Jones doesn’t believe what he said in that Dak is and will be the guy.

At first, my reaction was no different than most: A little sideways tilt to the head with eyebrows raised and a “are-you-sure-about-that?” smirk on my face. But the more I thought about it, the more it actually makes sense, considering where this team is and what options they’ve got. As we sit here right smack in the middle of the 2018 season, I see exactly why Jones would make that statement.

Because realistically, what other choice does he have?

Of course, it’s what he needs to say right now, knowing that Prescott is the best option he’s got for these final eight games.

But even looking down the road, staying the course with Prescott, at least until he’s forced to make a decision on his contract, makes the most sense, both business-wise and for the team.

He said Dak will get an extension? Sure, that doesn’t mean he’s going to be one of the top-five paid players in the league. He probably won’t even get a top-10 contract. But he still could get an extension because, right or wrong, Dak shouldn’t be making $630,000 in base salary with a cap charge of $725,000. And next year, as he enters his fourth pro season, he’ll barely count over $800,000 on the cap.

Just to compare, Lions’ backup Matt Cassel – you remember him from the 2015 season – wears a ballcap every game as he sits behind Matthew Stafford and makes a little over $1 million.

Remember this, the Cowboys make somewhat of a commitment to Prescott and still look for other options at the same time. But in terms of resources, we all know they don’t have a No. 1 pick next year. And selecting a quarterback even high in the second round wouldn’t guarantee that he’d be ready for anything.

Just real quick, I went back to check out all the QBs drafted in the second round over the last 10 years.

Even the best ones on the list wouldn’t get Cowboys fans excited: Derek Carr and Andy Dalton. We’ll see what Jimmy Garoppolo turns out to be, and I’m sure everyone has a different opinion about Colin Kaepernick altogether. But he was throwing into the end zone to win a Super Bowl, so there’s that.

But for all of those guys, you’ve got DeShone Kizer, Christian Hackenberg, Geno Smith, Brock Osweiler, Jimmy Clausen, Pat White, Chad Henne and Brian Brohm.

Or … you can go make sure you get Dak Prescott some help.

And I’m not just talking about from a personnel standpoint because it sounds like they’ve done that by getting Amari Cooper. But what about getting him a quarterback coach who has more experience than him? What about an offensive system that actually plays to his strength?

You can throw the 2016 season in my face all you want, but in reality, this offense was installed and operated with Tony Romo in mind. Now, it worked pretty well in 2016, but as we’re two years removed that, I’m fully convinced that it was lightning in a bottle and it took some time for teams to figure Prescott out. I think defensive coordinators decided last year that you can take away his easy throws (blanket Jason Witten and Cole Beasley) and force him to win on the outside with receivers who aren’t elite anymore.

But it doesn’t have to be the final say. I keep going back to Carolina because I really think Prescott is similar to Cam Newton in some ways; not everything, but they have comparable traits. And the Panthers don’t hide the fact that they’re trying to run the ball with him. It’s part of their offense and it works. Yeah, he has to make a few throws and can do that, but they don’t have any issues with him lowering his shoulder and taking off.

In nine games this year, Newton has had at least five carries every time, and rushed for seven or more attempts in all but one.

With Dak, he’s had three games with three rushing attempts. He’s also run the ball 11 times in a game and the Cowboys put up 40 points on what then was the No. 1 defense in the NFL.

It’s there. The skill set that Dak Prescott has can be good enough to be a good quarterback in this league.

I’m not saying they have to invest $200 million and ride with him. They can give him enough money right now to keep him as the starter. But he needs to be in a system that fully compliments what he can do.

Right now, I don’t think he’s in that system.

But to me, it’s a lot easier to find him some help than to find a replacement.

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