People are always going to compare Dak Prescott to Tony Romo. It’s the way sports work.
The 2016 debate of Dak or Tony will live in infamy as one of the more spirited ones to ever grace the hallowed halls of BTB. Thankfully we’re past that, but with Dak playing poorly to begin the season (and dipping during a chunk of last year) many have been yearning for the days of Niner once more.
It’s hard to prove either side when you have a debate like this. Times change, teams change, rules change, but time is so important that it must be said once more that times change. We can never truly compare person A to person B because we can’t simulate the exact same environment for both experiments.
People try to compare though, and they do so in clever ways. People look at common denominators like their home records, road records, and records during certain stretch of time like their first 16 games for example. As we’re looking at 100% of Dak Prescott’s body of work here it’s really not fair to compare him to all of Romo’s because that one is larger.
Let’s take a look at Dak Prescott versus the final version of Tony Romo
ESPN’s Mike Sando did something a bit interesting on Tuesday night and compared all of 37 of Prescott’s starts so far to Romo’s final 37 ones. Give it a gander for yourself.
After looking at Alex Smith & Patrick Mahomes, here are Dak Prescott's first 37 starts with the @dallascowboys alongside Tony Romo's final 37 starts. Included some target info as well. Prescott has Zeke, while Murray was hugely productive for a while previously. Same W-L record. pic.twitter.com/O7BeVQbC8n— Mike Sando, ESPN.com (@SandoESPN) October 10, 2018
Romo’s final 37 starts begins with the December 16th, 2012 game where he helped propel the Cowboys to an overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers (the Brandon Carr interception). It encompasses the final three games of that season, 15 games in 2013, 15 games in 2014 (what is agreed to be his finest season), and the four games he started in 2015 (although he didn’t finish two of them).
Obviously Tony Romo threw more, explaining more yards and touchdowns
You’ll remember that Dallas was throwing the ball like crazy in 2012 and 2013 (Romo threw it 122 times just in those final three games of the former season) and that it wasn’t until 2014 when they landed on the run-heavy mentality that they know and employ today. Obviously that’s factored in with Romo to a degree.
Romo trounces Prescott when it comes to attempts, completions, yards, and attempts. Interestingly Dak holds his own when it comes to yards per attempt, yards per completion, and even completion percentage. What’s worrisome is that Prescott has only eight less interceptions than Romo despite almost 100 less attempts, but obviously he’s been bad as of late.
This feels obvious, but we need to qualify this whole discussion with the fact that part of the time included here is the 2014 season which, again, is generally agreed upon to be the finest of Romo’s career. We’re not looking to prove a point necessarily, but it’s important context that Romo is wearing his finest suit in this sample size.
Dak Prescott has won just as much, he runs far more (duh), and he even has a higher QBR
There’s no denying that Dak Prescott is a far more lethal weapon on the ground that Tony Romo. He has over 600 more yards on the ground and double digits there where Romo doesn’t have any. This part can’t be debated.
The Cowboys obviously don’t ask Prescott to do as much through the air as they did Romo which is evidenced in the number of passing attempts that he has. The run-heavy mindset was developed over the course of Romo’s career whereas Dak was born in it. The offensive focus throughout Prescott’s entire tenure has been Ezekiel Elliott save for the six-game stretch when he was suspended in 2017.
What’s most important to note here is that Dak Prescott is equal in the number that matters - wins. Winning is the name of the game in football and if you do that then everything else is all the more forgivable. This is partly why Dak has been under such scrutiny as of late... because the Cowboys aren’t winning.
It’s an interesting debate and it always will be
Obviously Prescott got off to an insane start for his Cowboys career with 13 wins as a rookie. That’s almost a third of the wins he has at this point, and he’s only five games into his third season. What Romo did throughout his career will always be criminally underrated, but the reality is that we may romanticize it a bit when we look back and only remember the good.
Prescott has an opportunity to change the narrative this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. If he’s able to have success against the ferocious defense that they have, including the player in Jalen Ramsey that the Cowboys selected Zeke over, people will inch their way closer to him. Again, that’s just the way sports goes.
Coincidentally as Dak tries to right himself in the eyes of Cowboys fans all over the world there will be one man watching from up above telling us all about it. His name is Tony Romo, and he’ll be on call this Sunday at AT&T Stadium.