Let’s just make this clear right off the bat, before the blog machine starts rolling and before, god bless you, you listen to sports talk radio: I’m not saying there should be a quarterback controversy in Dallas. Only that it’s already here, and we are all powerless to stop it. Strap the fuck in.
Dak Prescott had the worst game of his young career last night in the Giants’ 10-7 win. He was 17-for-37 for 165 yards, with two interceptions and a fumble lost on one of the three sacks he took. That translates to a 45.4 passer rating and a 14.8 QBR, both season lows and both indicative of an offense that just couldn’t get going, not even with Ezekiel Elliott topping 100 all-purpose yards for the fifth straight game, and was just 1-for-15 in converting third downs.
Prescott is in a mini-slump. This was his third consecutive game with fewer than 200 passing yards, after having a grand total of zero such games before that. He’s accounted for just four touchdowns in these three games, his lowest three-game total since the first three games of his career. One of his picks last night wasn’t his fault—his receiver slipped—but the second was just a poor decision, of the likes he has generally avoided in his rookie year.
Even through Prescott coming down to earth a little over the last three games, the Cowboys kept winning before last night, so no one really raised the issue. But the offense was so futile against the Giants—and Tony Romo has been healthy for a month now—that the question became inevitable: How long is Prescott’s leash?
He’s got at least a little more slack. Owner Jerry Jones was asked if a relief appearance from Romo was ever considered, and he was unambiguous:
“No. No. No. No,” Jones said. “Not at all. Let me just say that.”
Head coach Jason Garrett, too, said this game was Prescott’s:
“No,” Garrett said, “we feel good about Dak playing quarterback for us.”
When pressed again about why not consider Romo, Garrett bit back.
“We feel good about where Dak is right now with our football team,” Garrett said.
No questions were apparently asked about the QB situation going forward, though if they had been, I’m sure the answers would have been similarly univocal yet noncommittal.
If there is good news, it’s that Prescott’s recent relative struggles have come against decent teams, all of whom could make the playoffs. If there’s worrying news, it’s the reality that in the playoffs every team is going to be decent at worst, and at 11-2, the Cowboys are expecting more than a one-and-done postseason.
It’s not about to get easier. Dallas’s next two games are nationally televised matchups against the Buccaneers and Lions, both currently in the playoff picture. If Prescott has another rough game next week, the Romo buzz is going to become deafening. Again, I’m not saying there’s a definite right answer here; only that this is happening, and it has the potential to become gloriously messy.