Cowboys Defense Keeps Dan Quinn; Can Dallas Offense Fix Dak Prescott?

Cowboys despondent over Dak, Mavs’ limping Luka, Rangers trending up and an epic local drought, all in this week’s DFW sports notebook.

Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End …

*Here we no again.

Since 2020 the city of Los Angeles has enjoyed three sports championships – one each in football, basketball and baseball – to turn Tinseltown into Title Town. Over a recent 10-month period the NFL’s Buccaneers and NHL’s Lightning also won three titles, re-branding Tampa Bay as Champa Bay. And in addition to celebrating a Braves’ World Series in 2021, Atlanta is basking in the glow of Georgia’s back-to-back college football championships.

Now comes Northern California’s Bay Area, poised to double its pleasure with a potential 49ers’ Super Bowl that would complement the Warriors’ NBA trophy from last Summer like a bottle of Pinot Gris with wood-plank salmon.

Fitting that both San Francisco (Dallas Cowboys) and Golden State (Dallas Mavericks) eliminated our local teams along the way. Because while sections of America are busy throwing multiple championship parades, DFW remains in a prolonged sports drought.

Dallas, home of the have-nots.

Without a championship since the Mavericks beat the Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on June 11, 2011, our victory void surpassed a decade and is rounding the turn for a seemingly unfathomable 4,250 days. The last time we partied, Dirk Nowitzki was still a player, Jason Kidd wasn’t yet our coach and Luka Doncic was in junior high.

Close, but no cigars.

The Texas Rangers got within one strike – twice – in 2011, the Dallas Stars within two games in 2000 and 2020, and the Mavs made it to the Western Conference Finals last Summer. And then there are the Cowboys, who haven’t sniffed a Super Bowl since winning XXX in 1996.

Last week’s loss to the 49ers dropped them to 0-7 in Divisional Round games, keeping them chained to Washington and the Lions as the only teams not to play in an NFC Championship Game the last 27 years.

Best we can do? Sheepishly glom on to the college hoops championship won by Baylor in 2021, TCU’s appearance this month in college football’s national title game, or Highland Park High School alum Scottie Scheffler winning golf’s most prestigious tournament (The Masters) last year.

While other cities are gleefully enjoying championship double-dipping, DFW is stuck with its severe case of blue balls.

Best we can do? Sheepishly glom on to the college hoops championship won by Baylor in 2021, TCU’s appearance this month in college football’s national title game, or Highland Park High School alum Scottie Scheffler winning golf’s most prestigious tournament (The Masters) last year.

While other cities are gleefully enjoying championship double-dipping, DFW is stuck with its severe case of blue balls.

Are we due? Or merely doomed?

*When Luka Doncic went down with a sprained ankle three minutes into Thursday night’s game at Phoenix, we all had the same horrifying thought: Just like that, from the Western Conference Finals to the Lottery. Somehow, thanks to 36 points from Spencer Dinwiddie, they managed to shock the struggling Suns. But if Doncic is out for an extended period, it’s time for the Mavs to lose and tank and lose some more. Write the season off to “load management” and get ready for the draft.

*First seven seasons as Cowboys’ quarterback:

RS   PS      Yds   TD Int

Tony Romo   55-30 1-3 20,834 149 72

Dak Prescott 61-36 2-4 24,943 166 65

*Perhaps a product of an uncluttered mind or maybe just a healthier body, Prescott was better as a 23-year-old rookie than a 29-year-old veteran.

Compared to this season, in 2016 Dak had a higher completion percentage, more yards, fewer interceptions (4-15) and, most importantly, more rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns (6-1). Strange to say about a guy who should be at the peak of his powers, but he seems to have regressed.

It’s like he’s in some sort of Benjamin Button wormhole where the older he gets, the less he matures.

Prescott hasn’t been the same since his ankle injury in 2021 and his calf injury in 2022. Running is now a last resort instead of priority option. He’s never been a premier pocket passer, but his diminishing mobility has more and more made him a quarterback who throws from the same spot.

Against Tampa Bay in the playoffs he made plays outside the pocket running and throwing. But against San Francisco’s athletic defense he was reduced to an inaccurate, uneasy thrower.

With his kicker dealing with the yips and Tony Pollard out, Prescott last Sunday needed to elevate his game, and his team. Instead, he had a bad game on his biggest stage. He called his interceptions “ridiculous” and his performance “unacceptable”, vowing to use the disappointment as daily motivation to return to the Divisional Round in 365 days.

But, sorry, at this point his “now I’m really gonna buckle down” promises ring hollow. We desperately want the person to match the player. But time to admit it: Dak is an exceptional human being, but only an above-average football player.

*Doncic made his fourth consecutive All-Star team Thursday by being the most clutch performer in the NBA. But this week we were reminded he’s also … human. In Tuesday’s head-scratching, one-point home loss to the Wizards, Luka missed a free throw, committed a foul and threw a bad pass for a turnover, all in the final 12 seconds. Yikes.

*The Rangers haven’t had a winning season since Rougned Odor led them with 33 homers in 2016, but oddsmakers expect them to flirt with success in 2023. Coming off seasons of 102 and 94 losses, Texas’ projected win total is 80.5 which would put it right around .500. As is usually the case, health is the key. The Rangers added talented, tested pitching in Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney, but the trio last year combined for only 246 innings. Before pitchers and catchers report, give me the over.

*A high-school football coach. A volunteer fireman. And, of course, the proverbial youth pastor. They were among the 46 people arrested this week in Collin County as part of a commercial prostitution sting. We can debate paying for sex. And I think we’ll all agree that sex trafficking is horrible. But consider all the money and manpower to coordinate and conduct this operation. Multiple local agencies, hundreds of officers and upscale hotels. U.S. Homeland Security ran it, for crying out loud. All for a process in which there was no sex trafficking, because there were no real women. Officers entrapped the suspects, posing as prostitutes online to prompt “appointments.”

School shootings. Homeless on every corner. Dudes desperate for sex.

While authorities beat their chest over the success of the sting, I can’t help but think our priorities for making DFW a better, safer place to live are out of whack.

*Prescott against the 49ers in two playoff games: 21 possessions. 3 TDs. 3 turnovers. 2 losses.

*New venue. Bigger variety. The DFW Golf Show continues to grow, so much so that this year’s 11th annual event is moving to the Esports Stadium in Arlington March 17-19. The 2023 headline guest will be World Long Drive Champion – and former UNT golfer – Kyle Berkshire. Also scheduled to appear are U.S. Women’s Open champ Brittany Lang and the golf comedy group, Country Club Adjacent. Get your early bird tickets here.

*Stop with your preposterous criticism of the Cowboys’ final play – what would you suggest they draw up for 4th-and-76? – and re-route your anger on the previous possession where coach Mike McCarthy wasted a precious 35 seconds by not calling a timeout.

*Cowboys lost. Mavs meandering. Weather this week cold and gray. But … Rangers’ first spring training game is only four weeks from today. Hang in there.



*Dumbest, most prisoner-of-the-moment thing I read this week: Esteemed NFL writer Peter King claiming he’d take Brock Purdy over Prescott. For last week? Sure. For next year? Nope.

*Three of the NFL’s final four quarterbacks are from the Big 12: Purdy (Iowa State), Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) and Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma).

*Wrote the word “cake” the other day and it didn’t look right. How can a “c” and a “k” make the same sound, in the same word? Maybe I’ll ask Mr. Doncic?

*Cowboys may have lost the postseason, but they’ve already won their offseason. Keeping Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator is crucial. Especially if you enjoyed the 77 combined takeaways the last two seasons and despised the 2020 defense without him that set franchise records for yards and points allowed.

*Nothing to see here, just Earth’s inner core stopping its rotation to go in the reverse direction. How the heck do we not feel that?

*Oh, and as if we don’t already have enough to worry about … there is a “Doomsday Clock” timing our extinction from Earth and it’s down to 90 seconds from midnight. Maybe not put off that vacation.

*You can take the Cowboys out of the playoffs, but you can’t take “America’s Team” out of the Cowboys. Last week’s Cowboys-49ers game was the second-most watched Divisional Round playoff game ever on Fox, behind only – of course – Cowboys-Packers in 2017.

*Since it seems implausible to get rid of 400 million guns in America, maybe just get rid of all the people shooting them? In other words, get rid of men. When’s the last time you read about a woman committing mass murder? And of the 529 fugitives placed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list since it launched in 1950, only 11 have been female.

*Heard a woman this week proudly exclaim, “I’m a dog Mom to a rescue!” But, um, aren’t all dogs technically “rescues”? I mean, if they didn’t need rescuing they’d be thriving in their own sustainable dog cities with unions and affordable housing and three meals a day. And while we’re at it, you might be a “dog Mom” but you know you’re not really the dog’s Mom, right? All dogs have actual moms.

*Same Qwacks that pushed the conspiracy that Barack Obama was Muslim, the Sandy Hook school shooting was fake and who believe JFK is still alive and well are now leaning into sports. Their latest nutjob theory: Buffalo Bills’ cornerback Damar Hamlin died on the field from effects of the COVID vaccination, was never resuscitated and the NFL is protecting its product by using a Hamlin “body double.” I can’t imagine what it must be like to go through life so scared and gullible.

*You may not know his name, but you’re definitely familiar with his work. Jose Gant is retiring Feb. 3 after 43 years as lead photojournalist for WFAA Channel 8. For decades he provided the video to accentuate the words of anchor Dale Hansen. In a sports media industry ripe with surly egos, Jose is a prince of a man.

*This Weekend? Friday-Saturday-Sunday let’s … hmm, no football, no plans. No way?! As always, don’t be a stranger.

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