Dallas Cowboys 2022 NFL round-up: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Jayron Kearse…
What can we expect moving forward from the Cowboys’ embarrassing loss to the Buccaneers and now an injured Prescott? Is the season doomed?
It certainly does not look optimistic for the Dallas Cowboys after Sunday’s game and the news that their starting quarterback will be out around six to eight weeks. That’s a long time for a team that was already thin on offense. Even with a healthy Prescott for the majority of the game, the Cowboys just could not move the ball on offense. The 2022 season could not have gotten off to a worse start, and I’m afraid it’s not exactly going up from here.
Prescott will undergo thumb surgery
Dak Prescott is positive as always, and that makes one of us. After the 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Prescott was wearing a cast on his right hand and diagnosed with a fractured right thumb.
“I wanted to be able to respond and not necessarily having that opportunity for several weeks,” said Prescott. “Yeah, it’s unfortunate, but I’ll do what I’ve always done anytime adversity comes. Take it on head first, and I’ll give my best, and I’m sure I’ll come out of this better.”
The injury happened with about six minutes left in the game. Prescott told reporters that he thought he’d just jammed it, but realized on the next play that he couldn’t grip the ball. When the X-rays came back, Prescott did not expect things to be as bad as they were, but he at least should make a full recovery. The projected timetable to return is 6-8 weeks, meaning he could be back for the Chicago Bears game on October 30 at the earliest, but it’s more likely he won’t be back until at least November 13 against the Green Bay Packers. Considering how little the Cowboys did offensively even with Prescott on the field, this does not look like it’s going to be a fun season for Dallas.
Cooper Rush, other quarterback options - what is the Cowboys’ plan now?
After a training camp battle seemed to be going on for the QB2 position between Cooper Rush and Will Grier, the Cowboys ultimately placed Rush on the active roster and Grier on the practice squad, which meant Rush was the one to fill in for Prescott to end the miserable season opener. And it means he will be the starting quarterback for the next few months while Prescott recovers - or does it?
For now, that’s what the plan is. Cooper Rush made his first NFL start when he filled in for Prescott lat year at Minnesota in Week 8 and picked up 325 passing yards and two touchdowns to win the game 20-16, which no one saw coming. Was that game a fluke, though? Cowboys fans hope not. Rush was the starting quarterback at Central Michigan, but only after three years and injuries to the original starters. He went undrafted in 2017 and signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. In total, Rush has made 11 appearances so far and besides that first victory, he hasn’t done much to impress. There was a 2017 loss to the Eagles in which he made one incomplete pass, there was a game against the Jaguars in 2018 in which he made no passes and no rushes, and there were two games he appeared in 2019 in which he also had no passes or rushes. He did not play a game in 2020.
In 2021, Rush started against the Vikings and went 24-for-40 with 325 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. In three other games, he went 6-of-7 for 97 yards and one touchdown. It’s not enough to make us feel confident, especially with what he’s working with on the offense. But what are the other options?
The big name on everyone’s lips is Jimmy Garoppolo. After some offseason drama, the 49ers quarterback finally did re-sign with San Francisco, but - despite a no-trade clause - he is not stuck there. The clause only means that he has to be part of any plans to move and agree to them. So, would Garoppolo agree to go to Dallas? Would Dallas try for it? They would likely have to give away a high draft pick, and that’s not something the Jones family likes to do much. But Prescott out for this long is not a small issue.
Some other options would be the Steelers QB3 Mason Rudolph or free agent Cam Newton. Neither of those options seem probable for Dallas, but they are possible. The Cowboys have said they are looking at the possibility of signing a third quarterback, though it could also just be as another backup, not necessarily a starter to replace Rush.
“We definitely anticipate making some roster moves, maybe by tomorrow,” said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy. That was on Monday, so we could see some changes happening later today.
How did Tyler Smith perform in the season opener?
One of the biggest concerns in Dallas before Prescott went down was the weak offensive line. After the Cowboys lost their starting left tackle Tyron Smith to an injury in the preseason, it was their first-round draft pick, rookie Tyler Smith who took over for him on Sunday.
There was worry surrounding this considering Smith was originally training to play at left guard. However, his debut was not as bleak as it could have been (though it is hard to see anything as not bleak considering all the other issues). Smith starting at LT put Connor McGovern at LG, but he quickly went down with an injury too (high ankle sprain), and that presented another challenge for Smith.
“For me it was a little tough because throughout the week we have built up our chemistry since I made my move back to tackle,” said Smith. “That was huge because I got so used to being next to him and our communication. But Matt came in and did a great job.”
Smith showed his physical side in his debut against a difficult Tampa Bay defense. Though it was not perfect (he had a few penalties as well), it was better than expected.
The Cowboys also signed former Eagles tackle Jason Peters as a potential starter, and we could see that happen sooner than later.
Injuries everywhere - Jayron Kearse update
In addition to Prescott and McGovern leaving Sunday’s game early with injuries, the Cowboys are also dealing with an injury to safety Jayron Kearse, who left the game on crutches. Kearse has apparently suffered an MCL sprain and is expected to miss at least a few weeks.
Luckily for the Cowboys, they still have some options at safety on the depth chart. Marquese Bell and Israel Mukuamu were both listed as inactive for Sunday’s opener, but that’s likely to change next week when Dallas takes on the Cincinnati Bengals.