Let’s talk preseason. Or rather, let’s doubletalk preseason in the usual awkward and apologetic way. Much like that pool party we casually biked past with a towel wrapped around our handlebars, we don’t care about the preseason. It is silly to get worked up about preseason games, since the real winners are the coaches who can find some special teams contributors without risking injury or revealing plays. If you are trying to make the team, a preseason game might be one of the most important days of your life; if you are trying to predict the team’s performance in the regular season, it’s akin to trying to take someone’s temperature with a turnip. In 2014, the year the Dallas Cowboys are desperately trying to recreate, they went 0-4 in the preseason.
That being said, let’s talk about Dak Prescott, who has more touchdowns than incompletions in his first two preseason games. What do his ridiculous preseason numbers mean? Is he going to fare better than Stephen McGee, the last quarterback the Cowboys drafted in the fourth round? McGee finished the 2011 preseason near the top of the charts in passer rating and yardage, but he still earned a role in the morality tale about how the Cowboys can’t evaluate quarterback talent or provide Romo with a competent backup.
Dak Prescott certainly looked a lot more comfortable than the number one pick, Jared Goff, when they faced off in the preseason opener. Of course, Ryan Leaf outdueled Manning in the preseason, and we know how that went.
Are we to be encouraged by Dak’s poise so far, or do we chalk that up to playing vanilla defenses with the advantage of Dez Bryant and the best offensive line in the NFL? Jerry Jones has been positively giddy about Dak, but Jerry Jones also said this:
“This quarterback Weeden can drive the ball down field. He’s a thing of beauty on throwing a football. His passing motion and his arm, frankly, you won’t see a more gifted passer, power, accuracy, the entire aspect of it. If he can basically prepare, be the starting quarterback, come in and execute and keep his head right, then I feel good about Weeden.”
All that being said, the feeling I get from watching Dak Prescott isn’t too far away from what I got from watching Tony Romo in his first years as a Cowboys starter. The way that he seemed to embrace the moment when a play broke down. As Bob Sturm mentioned in his blog piece, Dak looks happy when he is being blitzed, and so far at least, he seems wired not to check down. One of the most dispiriting parts of the Cowboys 2015 season was the impression that if things went awry or there wasn’t a comfortable checkdown option available, there seemed to be no possibility of an offensive play. Which really sucks the excitement out of football on a moment by moment basis.
Obviously, I far prefer Romo to someone who has made some plays that remind me of Romo. But for the preseason at least, which of course I don’t care about, I am feeling a bit of Dak Fever. Maybe it’s just because I keep taking my temperature with that turnip.
Now let’s see what Ezekiel Elliott can do tonight.