The game, as hard as it is for some of y’all to believe, is about more than passing yards and touchdown passes for quarterbacks.
It’s about decision-making and clock management. It’s about picking the right play on a run-pass option. It’s about understanding what the coaches want and what your teammates need.
It’s about coming back from a dropped pass or an interception or a drive-wrecking sack with a big throw in a big moment.
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It’s about a litany of intangibles that only reveal themselves to players and coaches when you hang around a player long enough to notice.
That’s why you do yourself a disservice when you try to view Dak Prescott through a Tony Romo prism.
Romo, who owns every significant passing record in franchise history, was among the game’s best passers during his 10 seasons as the Cowboys’ starter.
Prescott, based on what we know, will never be the passer Romo was, but he might wind up being a better quarterback.
Romo didn’t rein in his wild ways until after the 2012 season when he threw 19 interceptions. In his last two full seasons as a starter - 2012 and 2013 - Romo passed for 7,533 yards with 65 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
In 23 games, Prescott already has figured out how to succeed by limiting his mistakes.
He’s everything Garrett wants in a quarterback, and he provided example after example in the Cowboys’ 28-17 win over Kansas City.
With 1:30 left in the first half, the Cowboys faced third-and-15 from the Dallas 13.
Conventional wisdom said run the ball, force Kansas City to use its final timeout.
But Garrett and Scott Linehan trust Prescott’s decision-making, so they let him throw the ball. He completed a 21-yard pass to Bryant in the middle of the field for a first down.
On the next play, he rolled right and avoided the pressure and completed a 51-yard pass to Terrance Williams.
Then he finished the drive, by eluding a defender in the pocket, and running for a 10-yard touchdown on third down for a 14-3 lead with 21 seconds left in the first half.
The Chiefs scored on the final play of the first half, a 56-yard catch and run, and on their first drive of the third quarter to take a 17-14 lead.
A lesser team would’ve folded; a lesser quarterback would’ve let them.
Instead, he led the Cowboys on drives of 75 and 87 yards, pushing the lead to 28-17 with 8:58 left in the game.
“He’s a very good leader he’s a very natural leader and guys really respect him,” Garrett said of Prescott. “They respect the work he puts in and how he approaches the game and how he competes and plays in the games.
“That helps your football team in so many ways. It helps your offense. The guys on defense and the kicking game all see that and they rally around it.”
Prescott has passed for 1,818 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions to go with his 97.9 passer rating. He has 39 touchdown passes and eight interceptions in his career.
“Some guys just have a feel for the game. They feel very comfortable on the field,” Garrett said. “When things become challenging or they face adversity on a given play they seem to know how to handle it.
“He does for us. its really important to have that quality and that trait at that position and he’s certainly demonstrated that in his time with us.”
And if your quarterback doesn’t have it?
“You probably don’t execute well enough on a consistent basis,: Garrett said. “When everything is clean that guy can usually execute and perform, but when things break down he probably makes mistakes that hurt your team and ultimately your chances of wining a game.”
Garrett is rarely effusive in his praise. He typically makes exceptions when talking about Prescott because the second-year quarterback already understands the responsibility that accompanies being the face of the franchise.
He embraces the responsibility and challenge it brings. Listen closely and he sounds like Garrett, repeating the coach’s favorite mantras without sounding like he’s the teacher’s pet.
The Cowboys have won three consecutive games and the Cowboys have scored more than 28 points in five straight games. Yet, Prescott refuses to get complacent.
“Three wins later, we are still growing and we still have a lot we want to do and get better at,” Prescott said, “but we are getting a lot more comfortable within ourselves and within our system.''
Prescott isn’t perfect.
He still needs to improve his back-shoulder fade throws and take more chances downfield to stretch the defense.
But he’s proved there was nothing fluky about his rookie season, and he’s only going to get better. He’s OK letting Ezekiel Elliott being the focal point of the offense and making winning a priority over his stats.
"I haven't seen a lot of quarterbacks come in and play as cleanly as he's played,'' Garrett said. "Again, it's a tribute to his preparation. He's a very smart guy. He's a very instinctive player. He's very intuitive about the game. He works hard at it.
"The preparation is real to him, understanding what we're doing, understanding what the defense is doing, spending the time to study. That's a big part of what he does and I think that's what allows him to play with such confidence come game time.
"Every week there's stuff you look back at and say, 'Boy, I'd rather have that one back. Boy, I wish I had done this instead of that,''' Garrett continued. "It happens to him, no question about that, but he learns from those experiences. He gets better.”