Add former Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman to the list of people who’ve liked what they’ve seen from Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott thus far. The NFL on FOX lead analyst has called two of Prescott’s first four career games, including Dallas’ 24-17 win over San Francisco yesterday, and has been blown away by Prescott’s maturity.
Aikman joined The Jim Rome Show on Monday and marveled at how the fourth round pick out of Mississippi State has exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“I’m like everyone, I’ve been really impressed,” Aikman said. “I saw him Week 1 against the Giants, the only loss that they have, and I found myself in the second half not only forgetting that it was his first NFL start, but even the fact that he was a rookie. I just thought the poise that he showed in that game and really throughout the first four weeks has been remarkable. I know when he was drafted he was regarded a bit as a project because he had never taken snaps from under center, he hadn’t dropped back with the play-action game, and yet, when you watch him do all those things, they seem to be very natural to him. He’s a very mature young man. I’ve had a chance to visit with him a couple different times and he’s the real deal.”
Airman has also been impressed with Prescott, and fellow 2016 draft pick Ezekiel Elliott’s ability to protect the football early in their young careers.
“Eventually, he’s going to throw an interception. He should have had one actually yesterday, but it was dropped,” Aikman said of Prescott. “But when you consider the fact that he’s a rookie, and their running back is a rookie, and yet between the two of them, just one turnover. It says a lot about both of them, but Dak has overshadowed Ezekiel, because he’s done so much when no one really anticipating that happening.”
When asked if it’s a foregone conclusion that when Tony Romo returns from his injury, that he will take his starting quarterback job back from Prescott, the three-time Super Bowl champion hesitated. “Well it’s a good question, and I’d say if it was not the Cowboys and maybe some other organizations, I think there would be a chance that Tony would not get his job back,” Aikman said.
“But I just sense that with the relationship that he has with ownership, with Jerry Jones and with the family, that when he says when he’s ready to play, I believe they’ll put him back in the lineup. Having said that, I believe that now though with Dak playing as well as he has they will be more cautious than they otherwise would have been. They’re going to make sure he’s completely healed as long as the team’s having success.”
Having played his entire NFL career in Dallas, Aikman seemed to expect a quarterback controversy to be brewing all season long, especially if Romo struggles for a bit.
“The real dilemma comes, if he does step in and he doesn’t play well,” Aikman said about Romo’s eventual return. “Let’s understand that he’s missed 16 of the last 20 games that the Cowboys have played, and so it’s not like he’s just going to jump right back in and be where he was, and when you say where he was, what does that means exactly? He hasn’t really played since 2014. So there’s a lot of variables in there, but I don’t see this being a situation like it was in New England where Bill Belichick says hey, we are sticking with the young guy, and the young guy was Tom Brady. I just don’t sense that happening, but with each week that Dak plays the way he has, it certainly adds more fuel to the fire.”
Yesterday, team owner Jerry Jones responded to an ESPN report that said star wideout Dez Bryant has been late to or missed between 20 and 40 meetings in his Dallas career by saying, “On the face, the number of meeting was not accurate,” but also added, “Since the beginning of time, meetings and the timeliness of his meetings have been his number one issue.” Aikman tried to summarize his former owner’s comments and highlighted the leniency in which the organization punishes its players with when they misstep.
“I think that, in a roundabout way, it sounds to me that Jerry Jones basically confirmed the report, without saying yeah, we don’t know exactly what the number is,” Aikman said. “I just think, from my experience, that fining a player for whatever the misconduct is is not a real detriment, and it does not really change the behavior much.
“When you look at the Cowboys, since Jimmy [Johnson] left I guess, there’s been no player to my knowledge that I can recall that’s been suspended or maybe missed a start and then come back in and play later in the game or miss a game entirely. There’s been no suspension, it’s all been handled by fines, but yet it doesn’t seem to change whatever’s been taking place with regards to Dez. But what kind of a distraction is it? Is it a problem within the locker room? I don’t know. I’d have to believe, for some of those players anyway, they can’t be thrilled about it, but the way that he goes out and competes on Sunday’s when he is healthy, I think there is a tendency to overlook some of that when you’re talking about a great player.”