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Cowboys Have One Of The Better Backup QBs In The League In Dak Prescott

Prescott-Mania is in full swing, but are fans getting ahead of themselves? Or do the Cowboys have something legit in this fourth-round draft pick?

NFL: Preseason-Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

After 12 passes last week, Dak Prescott earned a nice thumbs up for a good debut performance. After 15 more passes on Friday, he’s officially on the Christmas Card list from Cowboys fans everywhere.

It’s easy to just say "simmer down" or "let’s not get too excited yet" but we don’t want to hear any of that. Reality will reveal itself soon enough, but for now let’s just take the cards for face value. And right now that value looks like this:

Right now, he’s killing it.

In 2012, Matt Flynn signed a three-year, $26 million deal to be the Seattle Seahawks starting quarterback. He would never start a game for the Seahawks. Instead, their third-round draft pick, Russell Wilson, had a great preseason and won the job before the season started. A rookie quarterback emerged just like that to become a quality starter.

In May, I wrote a piece about how Dak Prescott could step in and make plays if Tony Romo was injured again.

Prescott is a dual-threat player. While rookies in general struggle when they first hit the NFL, there have been quite a few recent success stories for mobile quarterbacks. Granted, some have been one-year wonders or found very little success once they've had to rely more on their arm, but they've still been able to have some value right out of the gate. Pro Bowl quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Russell Wilson have been able to sustain careers in the NFL because they have developed their pocket-passing ability, but others have had short-term success by using their legs.

Now, I’m not trying to suggest he’s Cam Newton or Russell Wilson. Those guys are starters. I’m looking at him as what he brings as a backup quarterback. Only throwing 27 passes in two preseason games isn’t enough to start predicting someone’s playing career, but what Prescott has demonstrated so far is that he has the tools to be successful in this offense. An offense that includes the best offensive line in football, one of the absolute best receivers in the league, an extremely reliable tight end target, and a very strong running game. He’s got all those things.

One of the things I really like about Prescott with this offense is when he moves out of the pocket to extend plays. His receivers are all too familiar with this little trick and know how to keep scrambling to get open. If you have a quarterback who can make throws or take off running, the defense will have no choice but to pick their poison as to how they choose to defend him. He proved that last night when the protection broke down and he scampered off for a 20-yard touchdown run. Watch him direct traffic, pump fake, and then take advantage of the clear running lane.

He won’t be asked to put the team on his shoulders. Instead, he’ll be given the keys to a high-powered machine and asked to try to get some good miles out of it. He is demonstrating that he can do that. If he can get good use out of these offensive weapons, he can have this team rolling without skipping too much of a beat.

The Cowboys suffered from terrible backup quarterback play last season. Defenses focused on stopping the run and dared the Cowboys backups to beat them. And time and time again - they couldn’t. That may no longer be the case. Dak Prescott has thrown four touchdown passes in just over a full games worth or reps. He’s also run for two touchdowns. Now, he won’t be giving the Cowboys six touchdowns a game, but he’s definitely got the potential to give you some of that.

The Cowboys finished 31st in the NFL last year with 17.2 points/game.

On Friday, Prescott would lead the Cowboys to scores on all six of the possessions he stepped on the field for. Out of his ten total possessions he’s played in this preseason, the Cowboys have scored on nine of them, including six of them for touchdowns. That’s remarkable. There are several other NFL teams he could be playing for that would see this type of performance and it would initiate a legitimate discussion about him having a shot at a starting job.

A couple weeks ago, CBS Sports ranked every team’s backup. The Cowboys, with Dak Prescott, were dead last. If you take a look around the league at the top backup quarterbacks, it’s hard not thinking he’s just as good or even better than many of these backups. How far up on this list he belongs will be an ongoing discussion, but if his first four quarters of action are any indication - he belongs much higher up. The Cowboys may have gone from the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality of backup QBs to being in the conversation as having one of the better ones.

There will be plenty of craziness over the next several days. While many of us are intoxicated from Dak’s performance thus far, we want to be careful not to put ourselves into a drunken stupor. Some overzealous fans are so enamored by Prescott’s fast start, that they are starting to contemplate him challenging Romo for the starting gig. That’s taking it too far. Instead, just harness that excitement and take comfort in knowing that if Prescott should have to come on the field, he might be able to do some real good things for this football team.

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