NFL AM: One Quarterback Controversy Put To Rest, Another Heats Up


Dak Responds

After struggling mightily over the past two weeks, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had opened the door for a potential return of Tony Romo as starting quarterback.

Prescott hadn’t executed any first downs via the pass on any third downs over the past two weeks as the team narrowly beat a decimated Minnesota Vikings squad and lost for the second time to the New York Giants.

With a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers team coming to Arlington for Sunday Night Football, Prescott was nothing short of brilliant in the Cowboys 26-20 victory.  The fourth round rookie completed 32 of 36 passes, for 279 yards with a rushing touchdown, his sixth of the season setting a new Dallas franchise record.

“I thought he was pretty darn good,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said in his post game press conference. “I think he had four incompletions. Was he 32-for-36 in the game? So clearly he was seeing things well, he threw the ball well. Made a lot of really good decisions, a lot of really good throws. I thought we did a good job moving the ball.”

Prescott’s night took most of the air out of Dallas’ quarterback controversy balloon and more importantly it showed how the rookie quarterback responded from adversity.

“Yeah, again, he’s someone who’s handled every situation he’s come across since he’s been with us very, very well,” Garrett explained. “He’s handled success really well, he’s handled adversity. Adversities within games, adversities from week to week, he’s just the same guy. He’s got a great demeanor. The guys follow him. He’s just a natural leader, and then he executed. He did what he needed to do to play well and play at a high level for us, and everyone responded around him.”

“I think that’s my game,” Prescott said of his performance. “I think last week I just got away from that. I got away from my usual taking what they give me, getting the ball out quick, and being patient. Tonight was just to get back what I’ve been doing all week long.”

As well as Prescott played, the team still found itself trailing at one point in the third quarter.  He rallied the troops and calmly led his team down for a tying score and then a pair of field goal drives that ultimately won the game.

“Keep pushing. Nobody really blinks. We were one possession away. They just had two possessions that went and scored, so we knew if we stopped them and got our two possessions, we could do what we did. We got two field goals. It wasn’t a touchdown, but it was enough to win the game at the end of the day,” Prescott said of the mindset when the team was trailing. 

With the victory, the Cowboys “magic number” is one to win the NFC East and clinch home field advantage.  More importantly, Prescott secured his immediate future as Dallas’ starting quarterback.

Brock Osweiler Finally Benched

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler has been one of the biggest disappointments of the 2016 NFL season.

Shortly after signing a four-year, $72 million contract, Osweiler has been mediocre on his best days this year, and downright awful on his worst and the Texans have been struggling to stay above .500, which happens to be good enough for first place in the AFC South.

After trailing 13-0 to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien had finally seen enough of his high-priced quarterback.  Osweiler started the game 6-of-11, for 48 yards and two interceptions and after the second pick which fell into the waiting hands of Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith, the Texans head coach put Osweiler on the pine in favor of third-year quarterback Tom Savage.

“I just felt like that was the best decision at that point in time for the team,” O’Brien said. “We don’t make decisions on how much a guy gets paid. We make decisions on what’s the best way to win a game. That was the decision we made today and I thought today, it worked out OK.”

Savage came in and played reasonably well and didn’t turn the ball over.  As usual, the Jaguars found a way to self-destruct and eventually lose and first place was back in the Texans control.

“As a competitor, any time you don’t play well, you get pulled out of a game, of course there’s disappointment,” Osweiler said after the game. “That’s a natural human reaction. Also there’s disappointment because you want to be your best for your teammates.

“So you’re disappointed because you feel like you let them down, but then at the same time you’re happy because this football team found a way to win. Tom had a huge day.”

The Texans have quite the conundrum with two games left to play in the regular season.  They are tied with the Tennessee Titans with identical 8-6 records and would hold the tie-break advantage based on their perfect 5-0 record inside the division.  Osweiler has been nothing short of brutal in his first season as a full-time starter, completing under 60 percent of his throws, for 2,706 yards with 14 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Meanwhile, Savage is unproven and not all that highly regarded among NFL circles.  He was a former fourth-round pick and the team thought so much of him that they kept him on the bench the previous two seasons in favor of journeymen Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Hoyer, before signing Osweiler to the big money deal.

O’Brien would not disclose his plans at the position.

“We’ve got a short week and we’ll make decisions on anybody, any starter that we have. We make decisions on that every week,” the head coach said.

“We run a very competitive program no matter what people on the outside see or think, whatever.  We run a very competitive program here and we try to compete on the practice field and reward guys that earn it on the practice field. That’s what we’ll continue to do here.”

O’Brien referenced that he doesn’t make decisions based on salary, but how else would anyone explain Osweiler starting?  He was as unqualified as anyone coming into the year, and he hasn’t had one week where he’s played like the elite quarterback that he’s getting paid to be.

“I think Coach O’Brien, the staff, obviously Rick Smith and everybody else I’m sure will have a conversation,” Osweiler said. “My job is just to be ready to play and to prepare like I’m going to play and if I start I start and I’m going to give this team everything I have performance-wise, and if I’m the backup I’m going to be there to support Tom.

“I’m going to coach him and do everything he asks of me, and ultimately I just want to be a great teammate and I want to do whatever it takes for this football team to win games.”

It’s good that Osweiler wants to be a good teammate, but shouldn’t your franchise quarterback be angry and competitive and want his job back instead of being happy to coach up his backup?  Outside of the mediocre play, that alone tells you that Osweiler isn’t the guy you want to lead your franchise.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.