Dak Prescott, after a Wednesday morning workout at The Star in Frisco, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys, was asked what did he do and why was he doing it now in early April?
“Well, this is how games are won,” he said, with force. “I just left a workout that in my mind just won a game. I do everything I can when I get to Sundays where I can’t go back and pinpoint a reason or think of a workout or a practice that I wish I had done differently or worked harder. I need to know what all 10 guys on my side and the other 11 guys on the field are doing and how they are playing. There are no excuses for not getting that right. This is the work you do to get that.”
This is the mindset of the Dallas Cowboys’ new franchise quarterback.
This is the quarterback who supplanted Tony Romo.
The Cowboys let Romo walk — and Romo chose to walk — because Prescott has cemented his stature as the Cowboys’ present. The future looks bright, but the present pushed Romo out, induced him to retire and leap into broadcasting. It happened because of the way Prescott took command of the Cowboys’ offense in an NFL offensive rookie of the year, Pro Bowl season. A rookie Cowboy roped them all in.
“We shared text messages,” Prescott said of Romo and his decision to become a CBS game analyst. “I thanked him for everything he’s done for me. He said it’s been a crazy couple of weeks for him. I’m hoping he is happy. I hope it is what he wanted. He has great knowledge of the game. He will give fans a birds-eye view of the game.
“He has knowledge of the game like an offensive coordinator does. I think of myself as knowledgeable, but I respect his knowledge, too. He taught me things last year, like if we scored touchdowns on our first couple of drives, to look out, to expect the blitz more on the third possession, and ways to take advantage of that.”
Romo injured his back during the preseason last year and was expected to miss at least eight weeks. Prescott, a 2016 fourth-round draft pick from Mississippi State, replaced him, lost the season-opener, then won 11 straight games en route to leading the Cowboys to a division title and the playoffs.
Before a Week 10 game at Pittsburgh, Romo was told by Dallas coaches and management that Prescott would remain the starter for the rest of the season. Prescott was told that, too.
“We were 7-1 before that Pittsburgh game and I really wasn’t expecting to be pulled, but I did know the schedule said it was time for Tony to return,” Prescott said. “But early in the week, coach (Scott) Linehan (the Dallas offensive coordinator) pulled me aside and said, ‘You are the quarterback and we are riding with you.’ I already felt that way. I was ready for anything. It didn’t change the way I worked or the way I played.
“I know I had been saying it was Tony’s team all along. But, really, I needed to say that during the process while really feeling it was our team. We all were the Dallas Cowboys, whatever role we played. But Tony had 14 years in the NFL and with the team. It didn’t hurt me to go along with the questions the media was asking and how they might have been hoping I would speak against him. I wasn’t going to let that happen.”
It shakes down to this: Romo is completely out and Prescott is all in. Prescott said “Dallas and Dak” go together.
“I grew up as a Cowboys fan,” Prescott said. “I hope to be here a very long time, the rest of my career. It’s a great place to be, especially being so close to my hometown; I grew up three hours down the road (in Haughton, La.). There is no fan base like the one for the Dallas Cowboys. I plan to be a great player and let my passion show. I know Tony will be rooting for me. We’ll see each other down the road.”