Spagnola: The Cowboys Certainly Know Who Dak Prescott Is By Now

LANDOVER, Md. – Well, how about a little bit of this?

         Leading 3-0, the ball on the Washington 30, with 2:49 left in the first quarter, facing fourth-and-1, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett shunned a 48-yard field goal attempt, the Cowboys instead running a play-fake to Ezekiel Elliott, roll Dak Prescott out of the pocket right and the rookie quarterback tosses a short pass to tight end Geoff Swaim, who goes 28 yards to the Redskins 2.

         First down! About a minute later, touchdown!

         Leading 20-17, with 5:41 left in the third quarter, and knowing the Redskins had scored on their last two possessions and three of the past four, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, trying to keep momentum going, orders up an onside kick. Problem was, that oblong ball did not cooperate, and for some strange reason decided to not only take a right-hand turn around the 40-something, but rolls slightly backward, the Cowboys illegally recovering a ball that did not go 10 yards.

         Redskins ball at the Cowboys 38. Redskins field goal 3:35 later.

         And then there was this: After the Cowboys' inspiring 27-23 victory over Washington here on Sunday afternoon, avoiding their first 0-2 start in the NFC East since 2010 and tumbling the defending NFC East champs to 0-2, Garrett is making his way out of the interview room as Cowboys PR director Rich Dalrymple announces Dak Prescott will be up next in about five minutes. That's when someone asks, "Who?"

         And we hear Garrett say to no one in particular, "Dak Prescott, No. 4."

         Oh, that Jason Garrett, living on the edge at FedEx.

But, don't you forget it. Any of it. Not the head coach sensing his offense was rolling well enough to go for it on fourth-and-1; that they had been kicking more than enough field goals over the first two games. Not the head coach sensing they needed to steal an extra possession after the Redskins had scored on two consecutive drives, one to end the half and one to start the third quarter.

And certainly not the head coach proudly emphasizing who Dak is.

Or as the sign in the stands caught on camera screamed following Prescott driving the Cowboys 80 yards for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown with 4:45 left in the fourth quarter:

YOU Like That?

 Called for some editing:

YOU Like Dak?

Maybe this will start a new narrative. You know, that stuff about the Cowboys inability to win without Tony Romo behind center. Oft reminded that they had gone 1-11 last year with backups starting, and oh, how, too, they've gone 1-14 with backups starting since 2013. No one cares to mention the 6-8 from 2008 through 2010.

Well, who knows, and yeah, yeah, it's only been two games, but maybe, just maybe we can start saying the Cowboys are 1-1 in 2016 with the backup quarterback starting. Oh wait, that's not right, either. Dak technically is the third-string quarterback, no? Kellen Moore was supposed to be the backup. Remember?

And really, how utterly close the Cowboys were to being 2-0 in 2016, time running out on what might have been a game-winning drive in the final 1:05 of the season-opening 20-19 loss to the New York Giants, Terrance Williams failing to get out of bounds with eight seconds left.

Remember the blame game for the previous failures over the years?

The Cowboys offense is far too Romo-centric for a backup to operate successfully in during his absence.

The coaching staff is too afraid to cut loose those backups.

Or the quarterbacks hadn't been in the offensive system long enough.


Well, maybe, just maybe, they didn't have the right backups.

They do now, the Cowboys having totaled 46 points, 708 total yards and averaging a 34:47 time of possession.

Dak is for real … for now and for the future, and wouldn't that be something, the Cowboys having been searching far and wide since, oh, 2009 for a developmental quarterback. From Stephen McGee to Brandon Weeden to trying to trade back up into the first round to select Paxton Lynch this year to trying to trade up in the fourth for Connor Cook.

Only to settle for who?

Dak Prescott, No. 4, with not even their first fourth-round pick, but the second.

Two games in, Dak's line reads thusly: 47 of 75, 519 yards, no touchdowns (he ran for one), no interceptions, 62.7 completion percentage and a passer rating of 83.1

And a game-winning, fourth-quarter, comeback touchdown drive. On the road. In the NFC East. Against the Redskins

Oh, and this: Becoming the Cowboys' first rookie quarterback to record a starting victory since, well, officially, Drew Henson in 2004. But in reality, since Vinny Testaverde took over a 7-7 game after Henson completed just 4-of-13 passes for 33 yards and a pick in the first half, and beat the Bears on Thanksgiving, 21-7, it's really the first since Chad Hutchinson had two wins in 2002. And he was no spring chicken, having spent four seasons playing professional baseball out of college.

"A number of different things came up throughout the game and he just handles it with poise and composure," Garrett said of Prescott. "He gives us a chance to execute on ball plays because the demeanor that he plays with is infectious throughout our team. Guys see that and respond to that."

That's huge. These guys do see it. They do feel it.

Ask Dez what he told Dak:

"Keep doing what you're doing, keep on balling. The sky's the limit for him."

"He's an exceptional rookie," Cole Beasley said.[embeddedad0]

Or this from veteran newcomer Alfred Morris, who stuck a dagger in his former team with that 4-yard touchdown run to give the Cowboys their margin of victory:

"He's a great natural leader, and I've been saying that about him the whole time since he came in."

Now, it's easy to say these things after a victory. But the guys were saying the same things after the season-opening loss and even since the start of training camp. They know better than most.

So here we go, maybe the dawning of a new day: The Cowboys are 1-1 since the start of the 2016 with a backup quarterback starting.

Who dat starting?

Dak Prescott, No. 4.   

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