Is there any sense debating whether 2016 is the unlikeliest year in Dallas Cowboys history?
I am thinking back to the preseason when our franchise quarterback — a top-tier talent poised to make it Super Bowl or bust for 2016 — went down against the Seattle Seahawks with yet another broken bone in his back. The backup quarterback had a broken leg. The Cowboys went into scramble mode. Everyone was sure they would have to land a veteran quarterback in order to have a prayer of salvaging anything from what might become another lost season.
The common hope among the Dallas faithful was that if the Cowboys could just play .500 ball for the six or eight weeks Romo would be sidelined, there was hope for a playoff berth.
Dak Does It…
Enter Dakota Prescott. You know him as Dak.
Dak was the eighth quarterback taken in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Cowboys claimed him in the fourth round with the 135th pick overall. He was expected to be a project…until he showed flashes of brilliance in the preseason. Brilliance and composure. Boy, was this kid composed!
The Cowboys proceeded to hand a raw fourth-round pick the football in week one and said, “Don’t screw this up. Just get us to Romo.”
Or something along those lines.
What happened next was a football miracle, as surely as the miracle that saved George Bailey!
By the time Tony Romo was ready to return to the line-up, there was nothing for him to return to…except a place on the bench as the most highly-paid backup QB in NFL history. Behind a rookie! The Cowboys were 8-1 and there was no way anyone among the coaches or ownership was going to screw with the chemistry or make-up of the team that had the entire football universe buzzing.
Romo officially hands Dak the keys to the kingdom
America’s Team was back and it was on the back of Dak and Zeke, the fantastic rookie duo who were vying with one another for both Offensive Rookie of the Year and NFL Most Valuable Player. Romo, whose career has been as unlikely as just about anyone’s (he was undrafted), was relegated to second fiddle on the team he had all but owned for a decade…the team he had taken from Drew Bledsoe all those football nights ago.
Before the 2016 season began, Texas Monthly ran a feature article declaring that this was Tony’s last and best hope to win a Super Bowl. This would be the year that he, Jason Witten, and coach Jason Garrett would lead the Cowboys back to glory. This year was Super Bowl or bust! Or…break a bone.
Tony did the noble thing. He took to the microphone and threw his support behind the young gunslinger who had displaced him from what was supposed to be the best position to grab a ring he had ever seen. Tony Romo proved he was a stand-up guy, all class:
The Dak n Zeke Show is on the air…and the ground
Last night, with a 42-21 drumming of a Detroit Lions team that was motivated by the opportunity to sew up the NFC North, which they haven’t won since the George W Bush administration (1993), Dak Prescott tied Ben Roethlisberger by grabbing his 13th win as a rookie QB. (Roethlisberger was a first-round pick and is a two-time Super Bowl winner.) Dak has a quarterback rating of 105. He has thrown 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions in his rookie campaign. He is a serious contender for NFL MVP.
Zeke Elliott, meanwhile, the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is running away with the rushing crown and threatening Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards. Zeke has 1631 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns through 15 games. He sat out a large portion of last night’s game, once it was in the bag. The Cowboys’ enviable position of having everything from the division to Homefield advantage throughout the playoffs sewn up may be the only thing that keeps Zeke out of the record book. Nothing, however, seems likely to keep him from winning the rushing title.
America has her Team back
These are heady days for Cowboys fans. After a 20-year stretch of mostly mediocre and always disappointing football, the team is the talk and the toast of the NFL once again. They ride into the playoffs with rookie guns a-blazing and as one of the favorites to win it all.
If they, indeed, do return to the Promised Land of Lombardi Trophies, they will have been led there, not by wizened veterans, but by children…by brazen, bold, beautiful kids with steely nerves, steady hands, and singular focus. By Dak. And Zeke.
Thank God for kids!