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The two worst jobs in American football are 1) head football coach at the University of Texas at Austin, and 2) starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.

In each case, the money is good, but life can often feel like chronic prostatitis.

Sark’s challenges aside for the moment, Dak gets the proctoscope here today as he prepares to play the biggest game of his career Monday night in Tampa. Losing that game would be catastrophic, and I’ll be the first to admit that is a negative outlook that can create crushing pressure. “Don’t lose.”

Full disclosure. I’ve always liked Dak, both as a quarterback and a person. I was Dak when Dak wasn’t cool. I was honking Dak like nobody’s business during his last season at Mississippi State, and when the Cowboys selected him in the fourth round of the 2016 Draft, I considered it a “steal.”

Here’s what I saw: Big. Strong. Mobile. Fluid. Tough. Strong arm. Cool. Excellent leader.

The Cowboys saw the same things, which is why Prescott was able to send Romo into early retirement.

Flash forward to now. If this is not a career crisis, it’s close enough. He is not playing well, and there’s no way to sugarcoat that. Despite missing five games this season with a broken thumb, Dak nevertheless has thrown 15 interceptions, including at least one pick in his last seven games. And he’s spent way too much of his time chasing opposing DBs into the Dallas end zone. We should not be mentioning Dak’s name in the same sentence as Davis Mills. This should not be happening in Dak’s seventh year in the NFL.

But here we are. To be sure, this isn’t all his fault. Cowboy receivers are horrendously sloppy route-runners, and, yes, that includes CeeDee Lamb. Guys routinely run routes at the wrong depths, make casual cuts and fail to come back for the ball. That’s alarming.

OK. And, yes, it’s also true that some of these picks have come off fluky deflections. But the rest is on Dak, who has become indecisive, inaccurate and often ineffective.

What’s going on? For openers, he’s late. I’ll defer to NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, who says Dak is starting plays with his eyes in the wrong places. That then forces him to visually re-rack, which slows his progressions and gives “catchup time” to opposing coverages.

Troy Aikman is more blunt. He says Prescott is playing with zero confidence. And that can be contagious in a huddle.

So Kellen Moore has to put Dak in a more comfortable and confidence-inducing environment. Run the ball. Run it some more. Throw it more off play-action, and less off dropbacks. Give him some easy throws to start a game.

I’m often asked if I think Dak is an “elite” NFL quarterback. After seven years of watching him, I have to say no. But he is a very good quarterback, a “Tier-1A” quarterback, if you will.

The Cowboys can win a Super Bowl with Dak. And for their sake and his, they’d better.

This Wild Card game against the Bucs is the biggest game of Dak’s career to date. Absolutely. A loss in that game could cause foundational changes in the Cowboy organization and in Prescott’s career.

And to a large extent, you can tell that the team’s mindset is, “Don’t lose.” That can be self-fulfilling. If you’re an old enough Cowboy fan, this may remind you of their mental block with the Cleveland Browns in 1968 and 1969. That did not go well.

Here’s how most Cowboys view the Bucs. “They’re 8-9.” Here’s the truth. Tampa is playing at home. On grass. Brady got in a nice groove over the last month of the season. Brady has never lost to the Cowboys. The Bucs are running the ball better and stopping the run better than they were earlier.

This is going to be really, really hard.

And Dak has nowhere to hide.

Being the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys has often been a living hell for everybody not named “Roger,” and that includes Aikman.

Dak has to win this one, or that kitchen is going to overheat.

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Paul's Bio

I clearly have the attention span of your median fruit fly.Look! Airplane!

Sorry. I’m back.

It’s both a curse and a blessing. I’ve never bought this stuff about, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But I do think that a wide range of life experiences helps us grow as people, and helps us better relate to other people. I’ve been fortunate. And I am beyond grateful.

I show up on time. I go like hell. I’m a good listener. I hold myself accountable. I own my mistakes. And I have a natural and an insatiable curiosity. I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But then I try to find out.

The flip side is I’m a lousy ballroom dancer and my clothes sometimes fit me funny.

Stuff matters to me. I care. But while I take that stuff seriously, I try hard to never take myself seriously. As a result, I have sometimes been told, “Paul, it’s hard to tell when you’re serious and when you’re just having some fun. Which is it? Serious or fun?”

My answer is “yes.” But I think that is a legitimate criticism. I promise I’m going to work on that.

This has been the quickest and strangest half-century I’ve ever experienced. During that period, I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities in news and sports journalism across all platforms. I have taught wonderful students at the high school and collegiate level. Always, I learned more from them than they did from me. I’ve been a high school administrator. I spent ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. I’ve been an advertising executive. I’ve hosted nationally syndicated television entertainment shows. In maybe the biggest honor I ever received, I was selected by NASA to be “Chet The Astronaut” for the “Land The Shuttle” simulator at Space Center Houston. (All I can say there, is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I put that thing in the Everglades more often than not.) Most recently, I just wrapped up a decade as a television news director, during which time our teams distinguished themselves in holding the powerful accountable, achieving both critical and ratings success.

What does all that mean? It means I am profoundly grateful. It also means I’m ready for “next.” So here we are. Radically Rational. It’s an idea I woke up with in 2017. I scribbled “Radically Rational” on a piece of notebook paper and used a magnet to stick it on our refrigerator. I saw it every day, and it just would not leave me alone.

I am second in charge at Radically Rational, LLC. My wife, Jo (also known as BB), is the president. Clearly, I have failed in my attempt to sleep my way to the top of this organization.

I hope you will learn that I’m loyal as a Labrador. But I will admit that this doggie can bite every now and then. My promise to you? I will show up on time. I will go like hell. I will listen to you earnestly and attentively. I will hold myself accountable. I will never be the least bit hesitant to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t.

But then I’ll try to find out. Let’s do it.