By Wade Haugen
A fourth-round draft pick starting as a quarterback in the NFL is usually a formula for failure. Starting both a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back is unheard of in the NFL. If a team decides to partake in that bold strategy, an early first-round draft pick is almost always imminent. Unless you’re the Dallas Cowboys.
Following Sunday’s defeat in Pittsburgh, the Cowboys are now 8-1 and atop the NFC, riding an eight-game winning streak behind their rookie quarterback and running back. While Prescott has gotten lots of love to this point in the season, as he should, it’s clear through 9 games that Ezekiel Elliot is now a serious contender for the NFL MVP award this year. Through week 10, Elliot has rushed for 1,005 yards, which leads the league, and also has 9 rushing touchdowns.
When the Cowboys decided to pass on defensive needs in exchange for taking Elliot in last May’s draft, part of the explanation from the Cowboy’s executive unit, headed by Jerry and Stephen Jones, was that Elliot would help the defense by his ability to eat up the clock running behind one of the best offensive line units the NFL has seen in quite some time.
In regards to drafting Elliott, Jones said: “We think that it could add 10 or 12 plays to the game each week on the offensive side of the ball.”
Jason Garrett further expanded on Jones’ comments by saying, “Hopefully, you possess the ball more. You get more plays on offense, fewer plays on defense, and that allows the defense to play at a higher level.”
To this point in the season, the strategy that Jones and Garrett envisioned back in May is working out perfectly. After week 10, the Dallas defensive unit ranked 12th in the NFL in total defense, but were only allowing 18.9 points per game, and had the 3rd best rushing defense in the entire league, giving up an average of 82.6 yards per game.
The offensive unit to this point has been dominant behind the 5 mammoths that inhibit the Cowboys offensive line. The Cowboys right now have the #1 rushing attack in all of football, and have the 3rd best offense overall.
When word started to spread in the preseason that Tony Romo had broken a bone in his back, panic spread throughout Cowboys Nation. Dak Prescott has taken the reigns to the offense with ease, however, and after Sunday’s road victory in Pittsburgh, has officially cemented his spot as this team’s starting quarterback. Prescott’s calm demeanor and innate ability to take care of the ball has been a glorious thing to watch this season for Cowboy’s fans.
A campaign that began with goals centered around surviving until week 8 when Romo returned, has changed on the fly. After Sunday’s game, it’s clear that this team has aspirations of a deep playoff run, and possibly even a trip to the Super Bowl.
Making a Super Bowl run with a rookie quarterback and running back? That’s unheard of. Unless you’re the Dallas Cowboys.