Dak Prescott’s injury on Sunday afternoon took the wind out of the sails of Cowboys Nation and what was a promising start to the season for the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback. It was a gut punch. Simply put, it sucked. It sucks to wake up Tuesday morning with a festering reality that Dak Prescott won’t be lining up to play this week against the Arizona Cardinals in what promises to be barn burner.
Watching your starting quarterback, who had never missed a start be humanized and injured on a horrific and fluke play was troubling, saddening, and a bummer for the Dallas Cowboys, the coaching staff, the media, the fans, and pretty much anyone who follows the game of football.
Don’t believe me, just go to Twitter and search “Dak” and “Prayer(s)” and see the outpouring of support for America’s Quarterback. Yeah, I said it.
Again, not even 48 hours removed from the traumatic injury, it still sucks. And while it’s important and okay to acknowledge how you and I feel about the loss of the Dallas Cowboys leader on and off the field, we shouldn’t lose sight of the reality that this team still has a lot to play for in 2020.
I repeat, the Dallas Cowboys still have a lot to play for in 2020.
Yes, the defense isn’t good. One of the worst in the NFL. Yes, you lost your starting quarterback for what looks like the remainder of the 2020 season. And also yes, you sit alone in first place in the NFC East five weeks into the season. And aside from the Philadelphia Eagles, who are always a challenge in the division, there isn’t another contender for the division title.
The season is far from over. Dak Prescott wouldn’t give up on this season, and neither will the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys still have a lot of obstacles to overcome and they need to find a way to improve one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Even the most optimistic Cowboys observer can’t dispute the reality that the Dallas Cowboys defense is bad. However, with Leighton Vander Esch, Chidobe Awuzie, and Randy Gregory ready to make their triumphant returns, the Cowboys will be getting an infusion of talent for this much-maligned defense over the next few weeks. There’s an opportunity for this tea to be better defensively moving forward.
The offense won’t be the same without Dak Prescott, I’m not going to try and convince you otherwise. Andy Dalton’s had a fine career, but he was never considered a top 10 quarterback like the guy he’s replacing. But isn’t this the exact reason the Dallas Cowboys signed Andy Dalton? To have that veteran insurance available in the even the unthinkable happened? This is why the Dallas Cowboys front office brought in a veteran to back up their franchise quarterback. So that if Dak went down <sad face emoji> the Cowboys offense wouldn’t suffer as steep of a drop off in quarterback play as it might from Prescott to a player like Cooper Rush or Ben DiNucci.
Stand down DiNucci stans.
Dalton may not be a top half of the league quarterback, but as we saw on Sunday in the Cowboys come from behind victory, he still has the arm to sling the ball around and make plays in the passing game. He showed enough athleticism to make plays on the run and he was accurate when throwing the ball. And if there’s anyone who knows how to make things happen behind a bad offensive line it’s the former Cincinnati Bengals signal-caller.
Now is not the time to tank and chase draft picks. The Cowboys have too much talent on the offensive side of the football to sit idly by. Defensively, it can’t get any worse right. With the players coming back though, it’s possible it could get better. And because there’s hope that things could be alright, they have to take a shot and live on that hope moving forward.
Because anything could happen. This defense, with the infusion of talent and more time in Mike Nolan’s scheme, could start to coalesce in time to make a run into and deep in the playoffs. The offense may not yield the same results that the Dallas Cowboys might have seen with Prescott under center, but they’ll be good enough to stay competitive throughout the season, which will likely win the NFC East.
I get where people are coming from though. With the way things are going right now, it’s hard to envision this team playing well enough to make a run in the playoffs that would be worth sacrificing draft position. While this team needs an infusion of talent at several spots on the roster, you don’t willingly throw away a shot at the playoffs, even if you think you might get bounced in the first round. This is different from what happened last year though when the Cowboys won a meaningless week 17 contest to get to 8-8 and sacrificed draft position along the way. The 2020 Cowboys still have a shot to make the playoffs.
Going to the playoffs is always better than not going to the playoffs. Teams can’t dream of winning a Super Bowl without first finding themselves in the playoffs. And as we see every year — cough, cough 49ers — playoff berths are never a sure thing year to year. So, when a team gets an opportunity to earn one of those precious playoff spots, they have to take it and hope to catch lightning in a bottle and make a run.
It’s like my dad has always told me, “if you don’t ask the question, the answer’s always no.” Well, if the Cowboys tank the 2020 season and purposefully miss the playoffs, then the answer to whether they could have made a deep run would resoundingly be “no.” At least right now, the answer is, “maybe.”
Tanking isn’t in this team’s character. It’s not how Jerry Jones lives his life, it’s not how Mike McCarthy operates, and it isn’t what Dak Prescott would want for his team. And make no mistake, on the field or not, that’s his team. The Dallas Cowboys will rally together to do everything they can to not waste this season because of Dak Prescott’s injury. They’ll play with a resiliency that has become a buzz word when talking about the Cowboys franchise quarterback.
It would have been easy for the team to go in the tank midway through the third quarter after Dak Prescott was injured. It was a difficult injury to watch take place. Instead kept fighting and found a way to leave AT&T Stadium the victors. No matter what happens the rest of the way, every game matters, because every game is about finding out just what this team is made of.
For better or worse, the Dallas Cowboys are in first place in the NFC East and have just as good a chance as anyone in the division to win the division. Though things haven’t gone according to plan through the first five games of the season, there’s still way too much to play for to hang it up and begin looking at 2021 draft prospects. The rest of that locker room isn’t quitting on this season and nor should they. They still have a chance to make something productive out of a season that has gotten off to a rough start.