Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he didn’t give Dak Prescott a heads up.
Jones said he didn’t give head coach Mike McCarthy advance notice, either, before pulling the trigger on quarterback Trey Lance.
“We didn’t tell anyone until we did it. Period,” Jones said. “My point is we just wanted to get it done.”
The comments raised almost as many eyebrows as the Cowboys sending their fourth-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers on Friday night to get the #3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Even as Jones viewed the acquisition of Lance as a long-term developmental play, fans and pundits wondered why Jones had surprised Prescott with the move. Could Lance succeed or support Prescott one day? How close is the direct competition?
Let’s ask another question: Do people read too much about who Jones told and who he didn’t tell?
“Yes, I think they read a lot into it,” Prescott told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday. “As I’ve said before and announced, I understand this is the front office and they have a job to do, and I believe in everything they do. Whether it’s additions or deals for this team, they do it for the betterment of the whole team.
“So, I am very excited, as we have been, to welcome Trey and continue to improve our room, make our attack better and our team better. I know he will do everything he can to make it happen.”
Prescott will, too.
Entering his eighth season as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback, there has been no QB1 in the league longer than Prescott. He started 97 regular season games, winning 61, while completing 66.6% of his passes for 24,943 yards, 166 touchdowns and 65 interceptions. He rushed 352 times for another 1,642 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Prescott’s productions and challenges — including his league-high 15 interceptions last season — show how he’ll handle this season. The Cowboys have won 12 games each of the past two years but the NFC championship drought dates back to 1996.
“I definitely feel like I’m in the best shape mentally and physically,” Prescott said. Midfielders, we are getting better through the experiences of seeing the defences, being in different situations, feeling the game more and more and understanding what is and is not a camouflage.
“As much as that was, changing the play-caller and (offensive coordinator) was helpful.”
For the first time since joining the NFL in 2016, Prescott will compete with a new offensive system. McCarthy will call up Dallas for the first time this year, integrating the West Coast principles that have led the Green Bay Packers’ success in McCarthy’s 13 seasons as head coach. Expect the Cowboys to focus on quarterback movement and receiver depth more intentionally this season than in Prescott’s career so far.
“Getting more detailed than I’ve probably ever been and getting everyone (on) the same page has been fun,” Prescott said. “So yeah, I’m excited. I feel like a rookie again, honestly.”
Lance, in terms of experience, is a de facto rookie. He attempted 102 NFL passes, completing 54.9% of them for 797 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions in two years. Lance rushed for another 235 yards and one touchdown while in San Francisco.
Lance fractured his fibula and damaged ankle ligaments in September, requiring two surgeries before the end of the season. Prescott may need to have two ankle surgeries during the 2020 season after suffering a compound fracture and dislocation in his right ankle.
Prescott sent a text message to Lance after the latter’s injury.
“I went through something like this myself, and I just wanted to reach out and share my support,” said Prescott, who met Lance briefly at a marketing opportunity during Lance’s drafting process. “I just wanted to let him know I was there for him. Any questions or anything he has, don’t hesitate.
Prescott plans to take a similar open approach to Lance joining the Cowboys’ quarterback room. Speculation about QB controversy anytime soon glosses over the fact that stellar quarterback Sam Darnold just beat Lance in the 49ers’ second-string assignment. In that competition, Lance had a deeper history with the rules of the game and the coaching staff than Darnold.
Now, Lance is accessing a new system without the benefit of off-season fixes or pre-season reps. Cooper Rush is firmly established as the Cowboys’ backup after Rush won four out of five starts last season, and one the year before. So consider the grumbling surrounding any final argument in the middle as external noise rather than internal reality.
To Lance’s credit, he’s not the one selling it. He refused even to share what he believes are his strengths when asked on Tuesday, saying he needs to learn the rules of the game and the team before he can contribute. Lance added that Prescott “welcomed me with open arms,” and Lance arrived “with nothing but as much respect for him as I think he deserves and gets from all over the league.”
After two disappointing years with the 49ers, Lance is hoping to earn respect in Dallas as well.
“I believe everything happens for a reason, and I believe I am here for a reason,” he said. “No matter what, I want to find a way to help the team.”