FRISCO - The best thing one can say about Dak Prescott's work in the Dallas Cowboys’ 17-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles is ... he tried.
“We didn’t get it done,” Prescott said of Dallas' overall performance in the crushing loss, which cost the Cowboys a chance to clinch the NFC East and a playoff berth. “We’re too talented of a team and individuals to not make the plays, starting with myself. It’s disappointing. It’s frustrating. But we all take responsibility. It begins with me.”
It "begins with'' Dak in every negative way because that's why the QBs get the big bucks. (And yes, the Jones family's commitment to sign Prescott to a franchise-QB-level contract remains in place.) Prescott was, in this game, awful in terms of raw numbers (25 of 44 passing) for 265 yards, awful in terms of The Eye Test (he was high, low, short, wide) and awful in terms of the bottom line.
If your offense fails to score a touchdown, you're awful.
“I missed some throws,'' said Dak, who entered the game with an AC joint sprain in his shoulder that essentially precluded him from practicing in the week leading up to Philly - and so far is doing the same now during Week 17 prep for the Redskins. But, he added, "I can’t say I had pain or felt it in my shoulder. It could be maybe a lack of reps this week, who knows. It definitely wasn’t my shoulder or anything I was feeling.”
The smart bet is Dak didn't feel anything at all in his shoulder, the result of medicinal help. The numbness meant no pain ... but may have led to his scatter-shooting passing results.
Prescott, though, promised that the injury wouldn't limit his aggressiveness and he proved true to his word when he plunged shoulder-first into a second-quarter collision attempting to gain a first down.
“He’s such a warrior,'' guard Zack Martin said. "He didn’t let on if it was hurting. He's got a bum shoulder, puts it down and tries to get the first down. It’s inspiring to everyone.”
Ah, but ... it wasn't. It wasn't "inspiring.'' The Dallas bench was not ignited. Head coach Jason Garrett's emotions did not change. Teammates like Amari Cooper's mopey demeanor was not altered.
While the 7-8 Cowboys still have a shot at the NFL Playoffs (Dak admitted to some level of embarrassment over "needing help'' this weekend from a Philly loss at the Giants combined with Dallas topping Washington), there is nothing at all about this program that is "inspired.'' It's devolved to the point to where they look plodding on grass, cannot win on the road, cannot be counted on to score a touchdown, cannot be counted on to record a takeaway, and are therefore left with the bare minimum a football team should be able to ask of itself.
The most important player on the team ... tries hard. That's not the same as 53 guys trying hard, or of 53 men bonding together as "brothers'' (a concept this bunch continues to pay lip service to) and it's not the same as the quarterback actually being "good'' or his teammates actually being "good.''
But for the Dallas Cowboys right now, as losers of eight of their last 12 games? Dak Prescott "trying hard'' is about all they have to brag about.