Skip to main content

Offseason | 2024

Mick Shots: Danny knows what QBs go through


FRISCO, Texas – Every Tom, Dick and Harry seem to have an opinion on Dak Prescott. What he did or didn't do this 2023 season, or what he's capable of doing or not capable of doing going forward. Along with what the Cowboys should do or shouldn't do heading into this next-to-last year of his contract.

So thought maybe we should hear from a quarterback expert, someone who played and coached the position at a high level, instead of all these self-anointed know-it-alls endlessly trying to create clicks.

Say hi to Danny White.

Did something Monday night never had previously, attending the 47th annual Davey O'Brien Awards Dinner at the Fort Worth Club, which houses the Davey O'Brien Hall of Fame. They named this year's winner, LSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels, the 2023 Most Outstanding Quarterback, following in the footsteps of such stellar college QBs as Bryce Young, Joe Burrow, Baker Mayfield, Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning and Vinny Testaverde, to name a few.

Then there's former Cowboys quarterback Danny White receiving the 2023 Legends Award, going to a former college and/or professional quarterback making a significant contribution to the game. That's a group including such previous winners as Joe Montana, Jim McMahon, Doug Williams, Terry Bradshaw, Bart Starr and former Cowboys quarterbacks Eddie LeBaron, Craig Morton and Roger Staubach.

If a refresher is needed, White, during his three years starting at Arizona State, went 32-4, won three Western Athletic Conference titles, three Fiesta Bowl titles and finished his career with the Sun Devils as the nation's career leading passer at the time. That earned him entry into the College Football Hall of Fame, the State of Arizona allHall of Fame and the ASU Hall of Fame as an inaugural member. And in 2000, the Arizona Republic newspaper named Danny the Arizona Athlete of the Century.

This all before his 13-year with the Cowboys (1976-88), serving those first four seasons as the Cowboys punter and Staubach's backup before taking over in 1980 when he proceeded to lead the Cowboys to three consecutive NFC Championship Games. White then became an Arena Football League head coach for 16 seasons, 13 with the Arizona Rattlers (1992-2004), where he guided the franchise to five playoff appearances and won two AFL championships, before then coaching three more years with the Utah Blaze.

Yep, Danny knows a thing or two about playing quarterback, about coaching quarterbacks and about Dak, since becoming the Compass Media Network's radio analyst for Cowboys games over the past 11 seasons. So yeah, he knows a thing or two about Rayne Dakota Prescott, having witnessed all his games, starting with his 2016 rookie season.

Well, Danny, what's your take on Dak? What advice would you give the Cowboys when it comes to Dak?

"If you had a list of 10 things a quarterback has to be, he's a five star on everything," Danny begins his verbal dissertation. "Just keep doing what he's doing. Endure to the end, it will get better. Being a quarterback, so much of your success depends on the people around you. There is no position in all of sports that is more dependent – the pitcher in baseball can play the whole game by himself, point guard in basketball, you name it. But a quarterback would be nothing without those other 10 guys. So if everybody else does their job, you have a chance to do yours.

"Dak is doing everything well enough to win a Super Bowl. I think everybody else around him – he can't say this – but if everybody else around him can elevate their game a little bit, if he gets better protection, if his receivers get a little bit more separation, if the running game gets a little bit better, and he does exactly what he did this year, they'll win a Super Bowl.

"I think Dak is the last guy who needs to change."

So there, that coming from a quarterback expert, considered a legend for sure.

  • More Danny: Want more Danny White knowledge? Get ready this summer. The former Cowboys quarterback, who might have taken Dallas to the Super Bowl that 1986 season. The 6-2 Cowboys were tied for first place in the NFC East with the 6-2 New York Giants and owning the No. 1 offense at the halfway point. But the Giants' Carl Banks, unblocked on a blitz in Game 9 at Giants Stadium, hit Danny so hard, breaking his wrist and tearing a ligament to end his season. The Giants ended up winning the game, 17-14, and never lost another on their way to winning Super Bowl XXI. And the Cowboys only won one more game (7-9), suffering their first non-winning season since going 7-7 in 1965. Need to learn more? Well, Danny and his adult daughter Heather Kennedy are collaborating on a book of his life and career, Danny White: Spotlights And Shadows, shooting for an expected June 8 release. By the way, Danny on the hiring of Mike Zimmer as defensive coordinator: "Sure seems to be a positive move."
  • Shut Up: Maybe no more appropriate way to say it, but enough is enough from some of these Cowboys players during interviews and social media posts after this 12-5 finish and the devastating 48-32 loss to the Packers. Does no good. And time for some of them to talk to relatives needing to vent, too. Reflects bad on you guys, those reading figure that sort of thing becomes insight into your feelings as well. You guys feel me?
  • Familiarity Reigns: The Cowboys began repairing their defensive staff by hiring former 13-year assistant Mike Zimmer as defensive coordinator. Then Zimm hires Paul Guenther as his defensive run-game coordinator, having worked with him in Cincinnati for six seasons and the 2021 season in Minnesota as Zimm's senior defensive assistant. Then there is Greg Ellis, the Cowboys former 1998 first-round defensive end draft choice as the assistant defensive line coach. He played with the Cowboys for 11 seasons (1998-2008, seven of those with Zimmer as the defensive coordinator). Upon running into Ellis this past Friday, he was ecstatic to be back with the Cowboys after serving as a head coach at NAIA schools Texas College in Tyler (2020-21) and then Southwest Assemblies of God in Waxahachie (2021-23), with his focus to be on defensive ends. And who doesn't know defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina, who played 17 seasons in the NFL with eight different teams after a becoming a Steelers' seventh-round pick in 1993 and coaching with four different teams, last with the Commanders (2020-23).
  • Franchise This: The 2024 NFL franchise tag season opened Tuesday and closes on March 5, and can't imagine the Cowboys using the tag this year for the first time since 2018 when they ended up franchising DeMarcus Lawrence for consecutive years, though signing him to a long-term deal in 2019. When it comes to defensives ends, offensive linemen, defensive tackles or cornerbacks, the cost ranges from a high of $23.3 million (DE) and a low of $18.4 million (CB). Not sure any of the Cowboys' 16 unrestricted free agents would be signed to a one-year deal like that.
  • Odds & Ends: The Cowboys 150-point differential in 2023 NFC East games is the largest in franchise history, and technically the 78 points allowed in those division games ranks second fewest to the 77 in 1998's undefeated eight division games, since what appears to be a franchise-record low of 41 occurred in the strike-shortened 1982 season when playing just three NFC East games … Almost forgot this, but here is what happens to a wild-card team and having to play consecutive games on the road, as the Cowboys did during the 2022 playoffs, winning at Tampa Bay on a Monday night and then having to travel to San Francisco on the other coast for a Sunday afternoon start, flying in the face of equity in that 19-12 loss … The shootings taking place last week during the Kansas City's Super Bowl championship celebration parade might prove to be the final championship parade for any sport, thanks once again to the irresponsibility of legal open-carry in this country.

Since we started with Danny White for the first word, only fitting the 13-year NFL veteran – every one of those years spent with the Cowboys before announcing his retirement in the summer of 1989 with a right wrist ruined by that Banks hit – gets the final word when summarizing his career, having led the Cowboys to those three consecutive NFC title games (1980-82), following Staubach's retirement that 1980 offseason, and five playoff appearances in those first six seasons starting.

"I had a unique career," Danny begins. "The first few years I started, we didn't have many weaknesses. The last few years I started I didn't – I don't ever remember getting hit the first four years I started, and if I did, I don't remember. And then I think I broke every bone in my body those last three years. I had everything known to man. …

"I wasn't doing anything different, but the things around me changed, so I saw both sides of it. I saw life as a quarterback when I got Drew Pearson, Butch Johnson and Tony Hill and that offensive line we had in '80, '81, '82, versus, you know, receivers change, tight ends change, the tackles change. All of a sudden, you go from Drew Pearson to whatever we had, so I got to see both ends of that deal.

"Playing quarterback is not fun when you don't have people around you that are doing their job. All of a sudden, your eyes go from there to – when we played the Bears in 1985 (losing to the soon-to-be Super Bowl XX champs, 44-0), I mean when I got the ball, I knew somebody was coming unblocked. I didn't know who it was or where it was coming from. Instead of taking my reads down the field, I'm looking for which way I was going to have to move, and that changes everything. You just hope if you do avoid (the guy) or step up, now you just got to find anybody that's open. Forget the reads, 1-2-3."

And from that game, Danny remembers Bears Pro Bowl outside linebacker Otis Wilson's shot to his back, "And I knew I was going to pay for that someday." He finished by saying, he is.

Good overall talk at the Davey O'Brien evening.

Related Content