Can Cowboys Stay Afloat Until Dak Prescott Returns?

Dak Prescott vs. Buccaneers

Now that the Dallas Cowboys have lost star quarterback Dak Prescott for six to eight weeks with a fractured thumb in his throwing hand that will require surgery, the team turns to backup Cooper Rush, a fifth-year pro with one career start and 50 passes thrown on his NFL resume.

To say the least, it’s not an ideal situation for America’s Team.

Throw in the loss of All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith two weeks ago and left guard Connor McGovern (ankle) in Sunday night’s loss to Tampa Bay, and this suddenly turns into team owner Jerry Jones’ worst nightmare.

So, 0-1 to start the season and more losses piling up on the injury report, where do the Cowboys go from here? It starts with Rush.

“It would be hard to exaggerate how significant a loss Dak Prescott is for the Dallas Cowboys,” said Joe Banner, former team president of the Eagles and Browns and co-founder of The 33rd Team. “Cooper Rush is not in the same league with Dak. The Cowboys play the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants in the next two weeks. The more important unknown is: Will it really only be two weeks? A thumb injury on his throwing hand is hard to be sure he will be 100 percent when he returns.”

Jones’ immediate diagnosis after the game was that Prescott would miss “several weeks,” which places him in the “out indefinitely” category.

Rush, not unlike Tony Romo 15 years earlier, went undrafted in 2017 out of Central Michigan. But unlike Romo, he’s not overly creative, lacks flair and an ability—and the accuracy—to push the ball downfield or make big plays. This is a team that might be in big trouble just holding down the fort until Prescott returns, whenever that is.

After getting released by the Cowboys in 2020, then a short stint with the Giants, the Cowboys re-signed him that October, and he spent most of the season on the team’s practice squad.

His only start came last year in Week 8 against the Minnesota Vikings, filling in for Prescott, who was out with a calf injury. In that game, he passed for 325 yards and 2 touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass to Amari Cooper in the final minute to beat the Vikings.

It’s yet to be seen how confident the Cowboys are in Rush, especially putting him behind a makeshift offensive line. Jones could be scouring the free agent market for an upgrade, but Rush knows the system, something Dallas might just have to live with until Prescott returns.

“[Cowboys players] are saying, “How long will he be out?” said The 33rd Team’s Golden Tate, a former wide receiver for the Lions and Seahawks. “If it’s 4-5 weeks, they are saying, ‘Alright, we gonna have to step up and hold it down until he’s back.”

“If it’s season-ending they are trying their best to stay optimistic.”

Or make a trade for a veteran, Tate added.

“Like Jimmy G,” he said, referring to the San Francisco 49ers’ backup. “Or they go call Cam Newton.”

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