While last weekend saw the New England Patriots potentially teetering had they dropped to 0-3, it sounds like the Dallas Cowboys may be in for a similar result if New England pulls off the win there this weekend.
As it currently stands, at 2-1, things are already starting to get ugly there. The loss to the Cardinals apparently left many people in Dallas extremely frustrated, with quarterback Dak Prescott seemingly drawing a lot of that ire. While Prescott is off to a relatively solid start statistically, the mood out there is similar to here.
Fans are growing impatient, especially being in a Division where the Eagles appear to be on an upward trajectory, which is leaving Dallas in the middle of the pack within their own division.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys lost to a Cardinals team that had been 0-2 heading into that match-up, and it was a game that kept Dallas from keeping pace with Philadelphia.
That’s not acceptable to Dallas fans, and the frustration is beginning to boil over. They’re feeling like their current window is closing for another shot at adding a Lombardi trophy. Even worse, it seems they’re starting to doubt Prescott can get them there.
The Cowboys haven’t sniffed a Super Bowl appearance since the late 90s, which was obviously when they won multiple championships and were considered the dynasty of the NFL.
Unfortunately for them, Tom Brady showed up in New England and kicked off his NFL career the year after Troy Aikman hung up his cleats, taking the league by storm and running off six titles while dominating the NFL for the next two decades.
That stretch essentially made Dallas irrelevant, as the Cowboys have spent the last 20+ years cycling through quarterbacks, looking for the next player to fill Aikman’s shoes.
Since then, they’ve burned through a fair amount of names. Among them have been Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Bledsoe, Tony Romo, Matt Cassel, and obviously Prescott. There have been other names mixed in there, but the ones mentioned are the ones who have had the majority of starts.
Prescott’s been the most recent one to show the most promise, but he’s also had some injuries. He battled through a gruesome ankle injury that saw him suffer a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in 2021, which had some wondering how good he might be if he was actually able to return.
The most incredible part is the fact he’s not only managed to overcome that setback, but play at a high level. He even surprised everyone last year in the postseason when Dallas blew out Brady and the Buccaneers during the Wild Card round in Tampa 31-14, which ended up being Brady’s final NFL game after he retired for the second time.
The Cowboys went on to score just 12 points the next week in a 19-12 loss against San Francisco, which frustrated fans after Prescott threw two interceptions as the 49ers hit a couple of field goals to take an early lead, and Dallas wasn’t able to do much offensively.
That led to a long offseason of frustration, and it sounds like if the Cowboys drop to .500 this week, that unrest is only going to get worse.
Vinnie Vinzetta of CBS KENS5 in Dallas has seen a lot of the discussion on social media from fans who believe it may be time for the Cowboys to move from Prescott, and he doesn’t understand it.
“What am I missing? Has he really been that bad?” writes Vinzetta in a recent column this week. “Eternal Dallas Cowboy lover (and shock television jock) Skip Bayless tweeted just this week that it might be time for the Cowboys to consider moving on from their starting quarterback.”
“I’ve been unable to make the math work that he’s been more bad than good. Has he really? I mean, we’re all selfish when it comes to football, right? Every player on your favorite team needs to be good enough to be enshrined into the Hall Of Fame eventually. Isn’t that the way it works? The bad moments in big moments are always magnified in professional sports, as they should be—it’s part of what pro athletes sign up for.”
“Maybe, for me – someone who doesn’t root for Dallas in my spare time – it’s because he always represents with such class, and always says the right thing. Maybe something is missing “between the ears,” as they say, beyond his physical football tools? I just don’t see that you can find something really that much better than what you always have. Are the Dallas Cowboys emboldened to trade him just because they’re the Dallas Cowboys and they deserve better? The answer would be no in every which way.”
The pressure is on for Prescott on Sunday. (PHOTO:David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Some of the sentiments there seem to echo the ones with Jones here in New England, which centers on Prescott’s lack of big plays in key moments. Vinzetta acknowledges that part needs to be better.
“But Dak should be better in those big game moments, right? I’m not gonna argue with that,” Vinzetta writes. “I’d say you’re correct in that assumption. Seven full seasons with no trips to the NFC Championship Game does not look stellar on the resume.”
“But moving on from Prescott? Really? I’ve seen the sentiment time and again on every social media site. I’ve heard it in conversation after conversation. Most NFL signal-callers are regular-season-good, and that’s about it if you really think about it. Only those select few reach rarified air.”
“I’m not unconvinced that Prescott won’t eventually reach those heights. He is under the most intense of microscopic scrutiny wearing the helmet for America’s Team. We know that, and more importantly, he knows that.”
It’s interesting to see that same situation playing out there. Obviously, following the retirement of Brady, the expectations are high, and unlike for Prescott, those championship moments are still fresh in everyone’s mind.
After all, it’s only been five years since the last time the Patriots raised a Lombardi trophy, with the six banners hanging at the end of Gillette Stadium sitting as a reminder of what used to be. It’s been over 20-years since Cowboys fans have experienced that. Many of them now seem to believe Prescott won’t be the guy to take them there, and this season will likely further that belief if he fails to at least make another deep playoff run.
It’s probably safe to say if Jones conjures up a big win Sunday and gets New England back to .500, along with delivering the Cowboys’ first back-to-back loss of 2023, there may be a corner turned by both players.
The bad news for Prescott is going to be the backlash he’ll likely face if he’s the one to suffer the hit.
To make matters worse, their next game is a trip to San Francisco on Sunday night football. A loss this weekend and another one next Sunday night, and they could be staring at 3-straight losses.
To be below .500 after starting out 2-0 with two blowout wins, that will probably only further infuriate Cowboys fans, especially those who are already frustrated with him.
Although, as Vinzetta writes, anyone who believes Dallas is better off without him has to think that all the way through, especially given how tough it is to find a viable NFL quarterback. As he points out, the elite ones are rare, and even good ones are hard to find.
For now, Jones might be able to at least quiet his critics for at least this week with a win. As for Prescott, it sounds like his will only get a little louder if that happens.
(Editor’s Note: Portions of the above appeared in this morning’s Patriots daily news and notes column.)
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