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Cowboys 1st & 10: Life Without Dak

Why the Dallas Cowboys can still make a run without QB1 Dak Prescott, plus an NFL Week 6 Monday Night Cardinals preview

Losing Dak Prescott hurts. It hurts a lot, especially when you consider the level at which he was playing before the injury. One could argue that, if he had kept up that pace, he would have been an MVP candidate. .... Cowboys First and 10 ...

1) All's Not Lost

But all isn’t lost for the Dallas Cowboys, though the road to the postseason is certainly considerably more difficult. Oddly, I see a light at the end of the tunnel more than a black hole.

While no one wanted it, this is why the Cowboys shelled out good money to lure Andy Dalton to Dallas after the Cincinnati Bengals released him. He’s a quality NFL quarterback. He can keep the train on the track. He has some great weapons on the outside in Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. Remember — Dalton was the guy who helped fuel the career of A.J. Green in Cincinnati. So he knows how to capitalize on talent.

The Cowboys still have running back Ezekiel Elliott, who took on a larger role in the second half of last Sunday’s win over the New York Giants. At this point, ‘Feeding Zeke’ should take on the look of an all-you-can-eat buffet. It would do nothing more than help the Cowboys’ offense overall and the passing game in particular, opening up more play-action passing options. For that matter, the Cowboys should be running plenty of run plays to the right side. It’s time to take advantage of that All-Pro right guard Zack Martin and that rookie center, Tyler Biadasz.

The defense? Well, Ok, it still has issues. But help is coming. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch could be back this week, as he’s been a full participant in practice all week. His return would be welcome help for Jaylon Smith. Defensive end Randy Gregory is, in Elliott’s words, playing “lights out” in practice this week and should return to the field the following week against Washington. Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is working his way back from injury, and when he returns, barring any other injuries, the defense will be about as full strength as its going to get this season.

Meanwhile, if the offense becomes more run-heavy with Elliott and helps chew up more clock, that reduces the amount of time the defense is on the field and, theoretically, makes the team better in the short term.

Plus, the Cowboys are, despite all of this, 2-3 in the NFC East and in first place. I mean the division is awful. And their next three games — home against Arizona on Monday night, on the road at Washington Oct. 25 and on the road at Philadelphia on Nov. 1 — offer the Cowboys a great opportunity to climb over .500 and take control of the division. If the Cowboys would win all three games, they would be 5-3 and 3-0 in the NFC East.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. I’m not even saying it’s going to happen.

I’m just saying that there are reasons to believe the season isn’t over just yet.

2) The Aftermath of Dak

Quarterback Dak Prescott’s injury last Sunday was gruesome to say the least. And It results in an outpouring of affection for Prescott, both in Dallas and around the NFL world. But in the aftermath of his injury, there was plenty of news that must be considered as the Cowboys think about 2020. And our staff was all over it.

Last Sunday night Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones talked about how ‘heartbroken’ he and the rest of the Cowboys organization over Prescott’s injury. The emotion was palpable.

Next, our Mike Fisher did a deep dive into the next steps for the organization, including the elevation to Andy Dalton to starter and what the Cowboys could do with Prescott, given that he’s a free agent in 2021.

Cowboys Chief Operating Officer Stephen Jones made it clear that Prescott was the team’s future in a radio interview, and that gave us a chance to take a look at the dollars and sense that it would take to keep Prescott in Dallas in 2021 and beyond.

During the week, Prescott’s teammates, one by one, sent their best wishes for Prescott’s recovery and their thoughts on what they lose with Prescott on the sideline.

And, just in case the Cowboys’ commitment to Prescott wasn’t clear enough, Jerry Jones said on the radio that ‘nothing’ has changed in terms of the team’s commitment to Prescott beyond this season.

Finally, Prescott hit social media on Thursday to let everyone know he’ll be back soon.

Yep, we were all over it all week, so if you missed something, just click on one of the links above. And follow Cowboy Maven for the most up-to-date news on the Cowboys every day.

3) Check out the Cowboy Maven Top 60 All-Time Dallas Cowboys

We published our Top 60 Dallas Cowboys of all-time as part of our celebration of the Cowboys’ 60 seasons in Dallas. We presented the Top 60 in groups of five. We hope you enjoyed the series and if you have an opinion, take them to our Cowboy Maven community or hit me up on Twitter at @PostinsPostcard.

If you missed any of the stories in our Top 60, just click on them below.

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 56-60

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 51-55

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 46-50

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 41-45

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 36-40

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 31-35

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 26-30

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 21-25

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 16-20

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 11-15

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The Cowboys simply have the normal reasons to be worried - and they do not presently employ a backup QB who can calm those worries.

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 6-10

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 1-5

4) Quotable 

“If we don’t reach where we want to go ultimately, and the ultimate success is to win the championship, it will not be because of Andy Dalton. He is capable of stepping in and playing at that level.” - Jerry Jones.

5) Cowboys ‘Arrows Up’

Welcome back, Leighton Vander Esch? It’s “arrows up” for him this week, and maybe the reinforcements are coming ... 

➡️ Gregory 'Lights Out!' And LVE ‘Arrows Up’

6) Rookie Roundup: Breaking Down DiNucci

The injury to Dak Prescott last Sunday has opened the door for Andy Dalton to move into the starting role for the rest of the season. But it also means that, for the moment, seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci is the back-up quarterback. The Cowboys are hoping that DiNucci never has to take a snape, unless the Cowboys are up by 30 points and DiNucci is taking a knee.

But what if it happens? In this rookie roundup, I break down DiNucci’s college film to see what the Cowboys might get if they have to elevate the rookie to the starting job.

7) Things that will help you this Monday vs. Cardinals

If you’re still getting ready for Monday’s game with the Arizona Cardinals, here is some great content to get you prepped:

➡️ QB Dalton In Cowboys Huddle: 'I Came Here To Win'

➡️ Fantasy Football: Don't Dump Dallas Cowboys

➡️ Jerry: Dak Injury Doesn’t Change Cowboys' Super Goals

➡️ Betting Odds: Why Are Cowboys Underdogs to Cardinals?

➡️ Cowboys' Key to Victory vs. Cardinals: Zeke

➡️ Cowboys D: 'Lights Out' & 'Arrows Up'

➡️ Locked On Cowboys Pod: How Good With Dalton?

8) David Irving gets another chance

Former Dallas Cowboys pass-rusher David Irving has been granted NFL reinstatement, hoping to reboot a promising career sidetracked largely by his involvement in the league’s substance abuse program.

Irving was frequently an on-field force with Dallas before a suspension a year ago that came in conjunction with him announcing he was quitting football due to his vocal opposition of the substance-abuse policy regarding marijuana and his desire to became an activist and businessman involved in cannabis and CBD products.

Our Mike Fisher has kept up with the story and has the full details here.

9) Whitt's End: Whitt's End: Can Cowboys QB Dak Really Be 'Better & Stronger'?

From our Richie Whitt:

While some fans – and ill-informed TV talking heads – wasted oxygen this week debating whether Dak Prescott has played his last down as a Dallas Cowboy, I worry more about the same scenario with Tyron Smith.

The dominant left tackle is scheduled for season-ending neck surgery. The Cowboys expect him to make a “100-percent recovery”, but … Dak needs to heal bones; Tyron nerves in his neck.

Smith’s been a decorated-yet-underrated warrior since the Cowboys drafted him 9th overall in 2011. In his last appearance this season, for example, he played all 82 offensive snaps against the Browns. He’s under contract until 2023 and won’t turn 30 until December, but if his Cowboys’ career is indeed over he’s already done enough to be inducted into the Ring of Honor.

Smith’s body of work aligns with the only offensive linemen in the ROH: Rayfield Wright and Larry Allen. He made seven Pro Bowls (Allen 11, Wright 6) and four All-Pro teams (Allen 7, Wright 6). All three were selected to NFL All-Decade Teams: Smith 2010s, Allen 1990s and 2000s, and Wright 1970s. Smith’s resume is dented only by team success, as during his 10 seasons Dallas managed only two playoff victories. Wright and Allen both own Super Bowl rings.

Safe to say Smith – who paved the way for two Ezekiel Elliott rushing titles – is the third-best offensive lineman in franchise history. The two slightly ahead of him are not only in the Ring of Honor, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Read Whitt’s End by clicking here.

10) Tweet Of The Week

Wanna talk Cowboys? Hit up Postins on Twitter at @PostinsPostcard or Mike Fisher on Twitter @FishSports