Dak Prescott Looks Ready to Torch the League
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Action speaks louder than words and — judging from Week 1 — the Cowboys QB is about that action.
By Matt Foley
This is the latest edition of OZY’s Huddle newsletter, which brings you a smart, flavorful conversation-starter for your next game watch party. No stale takes allowed. Add The Huddle to your OZY email subscriptions here.
He’s a great leader but not a pocket passer.
He’ll never be as good as Carson Wentz.
Zeke Elliott does all the work.
In three seasons in the NFL, Dak Prescott has heard it all.
Even with an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award (2016) and two Pro Bowls (2016, ’18) to his credit, Prescott’s potential to blossom into a franchise player is constantly questioned. A breakout 13-3 rookie season has been followed by a week-to-week roller coaster. So, of course, it’s only fitting that we crown him after a Week 1 explosion against the Giants.
Dude went off for 405 yards, four touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. (Fun fact: Ravens second-year QB Lamar Jackson also posted a 158.3, the first time ever that two passers had perfect games the same week.) It was easily the best game of Prescott’s career. But since he’s operating in a fresh system designed by new offensive coordinator — and former Dallas backup QB — Kellen Moore, there’s ample reason to remain bullish on Dak, who has been invigorated thanks to a new offense with its countless motions and deceptive formations.
Dallas owner Jerry Jones — who dished out new contracts like free T-shirts this summer — knows he will have to pay up soon. With Prescott in the final year of his rookie deal, Jones would be smart to extend the 26-year-old before the price keeps rising. Either way, if this Dallas offense continues to look remotely like it did against the G-Men, Prescott will be the highest paid player in the league next season. Book it.
What to Watch & Pick ’Em
EPL: Crystal Palace at Tottenham Hotspur (Saturday at 10:00 am ET on NBC Sports)
Off to a surprisingly hot start (2-1-1) in this young Premier League season, fourth place Crystal Palace (which already took out Manchester United) could spring one on Champions League runner-up Tottenham (1-2-1).
Crystal Palace (+650)
College Football: Oklahoma at UCLA (Saturday at 8:00 pm ET on Fox)
Off to a 0-2 start with the No. 5 Sooners rolling into Westwood, UCLA coach Chip Kelly’s back is against the wall. The Bruins are huge underdogs, but they may be able to rack up points against the Sooners’ defense … maybe.
Ones to Watch
Joe Burrow. The Air Raid has reached the SEC, and its face is a 6-foot-4 Ohio State transfer with a penchant for waving goodbye to the dismayed opposing fans of teams he’s just torched. With Burrow, a redshirt senior, at the helm in his second bayou season, LSU’s offense has morphed from plodding to a pass-heavy spread with enough firepower to contend for a playoff spot. LSU has long been known for producing NFL-caliber athletes across the defense and skill positions, but it’s been a long time since the Tigers had a true Heisman candidate at quarterback. Enter Burrow, who, after throwing for 2,874 yards and 16 TDs in 2018, found his groove with new LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady, poached from the New Orleans Saints. Utilizing Brady’s NFL spread concepts, Burrow tied an LSU single-game record with five TD passes (before halftime) in Week 1 and followed that up with four more scores in a Week 2 win against Texas. That victory moved LSU to No. 4 — the third SEC squad after No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia — in the AP poll, and into the heart of the playoff conversation.
Brittni Donaldson. After Donaldson spent the previous two seasons in the front office working as a data analyst, the Toronto Raptors this week moved her to the bench. With the promotion, Donaldson, 26, becomes the 10th female assistant coach in the NBA. Head coach Nick Nurse explained that her role will be similar to other assistant coaches — scouting opponents and helping with strategy — but she will also take a lead in translating analytic data to players and coaches. “Losing someone so smart [from the front office] is tough,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said. “But she has coaching in her DNA.” He ain’t lying. Donaldson (like her father, Jeff) was an all-state player at North High School in Sioux City, Iowa. Then she enjoyed a standout career at the University of Northern Iowa — the same school where Nurse played and began coaching — before a knee injury ended her dreams of playing professionally.
A West Coast dynasty … without the rings. OK, OK, we know the “D word” gets thrown around haphazardly in sports, but hear us out. With a 7-3 win at Baltimore on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their seventh straight NL West title. And though they have yet to win a World Series since 1988, the Dodgers’ stretch of dominance is nearing dynastic levels. In the divisional era (since 1969), only the Atlanta Braves (14 from 1991 to 2005) and New York Yankees (nine from 1998 to 2006) have won more consecutive division titles. In the ring-chasing era of professional sports, Dodgers fans are certainly growing tired of playing late into the fall without a World Series trophy to show for it. With an average roster age of 28.2, this Los Angeles team is a young one coming of age at the right time. Even if this journey doesn’t end in a World Series crown, hopefully fans don’t lose sight of how their team has been the most dominant regular season squad of its era.
NCAA amateurism? A California bill that would allow college athletes to accept endorsement money inched closer to becoming law on Monday, clearing the State Assembly by a 72-0 sweep. All that’s left is for Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign the Fair Pay to Play Act, which would take effect in January 2023. That means basketball players signing shoe deals, college football stars earning residuals off their video game likenesses or tennis players advertising lessons. Currently, similar bills are being drafted in Washington state and Colorado; in March, North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Walker introduced a federal bill that would have the same effect. Top athletes from across sports have tweeted their support of the bill, while the NCAA, of course, has come out in strong opposition. NCAA president Mark Emmert said that many California schools could be banned from competing for national championships, since the right to provide athletes compensation would constitute an unfair recruiting advantage.
When Will the NFL Loosen Its Grip on Exclusion?, by Alan Grant/OZY
In an exclusive conversation with OZY, Ryan Russell uses the words team and teammate with great frequency. He makes it clear that he loves to play, that an NFL career is a dream undeterred, but not if it means “compromising who I am in order to do it.”
Free Solo Climber Alex Honnold’s Summit? The Rest of His Life, by Seth Wickersham/ESPN
Any great athlete will tell you the urge to redefine your limits doesn’t wane with age. It gets worse, and so conspires against future happiness. Legacies fade, talent diminishes, but the drive to do something great remains. Extreme climbers are so hardwired for the quest that for many, the only way forward is to die on a mountain.
Steve Nash Is Still Trying to Distribute, Still Trying to Collaborate … , by Bruce Arthur/Toronto Star
Sometimes, maybe on a birthday or some other special occasion, Steve Nash will see highlights of his younger self on Instagram or Twitter or wherever. The greatest hits can be familiar, sure. But sometimes he sees a highlight from his two-MVP, Hall of Fame NBA career [and] it barely feels like him.
Why Women’s Soccer Players Are Worried About Their Brains, by Mirin Fader/Bleacher Report
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Team USA’s 89-79 quarterfinals loss to France in the FIBA World Cup – its first competitive international loss in 13 years – eliminated America from contention. But don’t check out; Argentina (6-0) plays France in the semis Friday, and Argentina’s 5-foot-11 point guard, Facundo Campazzo (averaging 13.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 8 assists), is a worthy follow.