Fans of the Dallas Cowboys woke up Sunday morning happy and excited for a brand new season, ready to see their team play Sunday Night Football hosting Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. By the end of the game, they all wished it was just a bad Saturday night dream. It wasn’t just for the fact the offense could not move the ball outside their first possession of the game, to which they had to settle for a 51-yard field goal. It’s more than the fact that Ceedee Lamb was struggling as Dallas’s new WR1, along with his fellow receivers who have little to no experience in NFL gameplay before the matchup.
The real devastation came in the fourth quarter. With the game feeling like it was already wrapped up for the Bucs, Dak Prescott was still trying to do what could lead to some kind of comeback. Facing pressure all through the night, Prescott hit his hand on separate occasions on the same drive, forcing him to miss the rest of the game and head into the tunnel.
X-Rays revealed a fracture in his right thumb. Prescott underwent successful surgery to insert a pin and plate to help stabilize the joint. The initial reports were that Prescott will be out of action for six to eight weeks, but as of Tuesday, per Tom Pelissero, Dak could return as soon as four to six weeks after clean surgery. With the Cowboys already having big holes on the offensive side of the ball, losing their leader at helms adds another and yet probably their biggest hole.
Back Up Plan
Cooper Rush is set to lead the team in the wake of Prescott’s absence. Last year Rush got his first NFL start for the Cowboys, filling in for Prescott and leading the Cowboys to a 20-16 victory over the Vikings. Throwing 325 yards, on 24-40 attempts, with two touchdowns and one interception, Rush provided solid QB play and ultimately led the Cowboys to the win. For now, a performance like that will most likely be his ceiling. I wouldn’t expect Rush to continue to have games of that consistency, though he doesn’t necessarily spell doomsday on the offense.
Ezekiel Elliot made solid work with the opportunities he was presented with in what otherwise was a night to forget for the offense. Having a modest 52 yards with 5.2 yards per carry, Zeke saw fewer attempts as the game started to get away from the Cowboys. If Dallas starts to fall behind early in this Dak-less stretch, we may continue to see less involvement in the ground game if the Boys have to continually play catch up.
Ceedee Lamb was coming into this season with many having expectations of him putting up big numbers as the Cowboys’ new wide receiver one. After week one, it shows he still needs to prove he can carry that position. With Michael Gallup still working back from injury, the Cowboys are hoping someone new and fresh can provide some relief for the Cowboys as they wait for Gallup’s return. Cooper Rush’s success finding these receivers comes down to how much time the offensive line can give Rush.
After losing La’el Collins, and Conner Williams this past off-season, and Tyron Smith due to an injury in practice, Dallas is running thin on the offensive line. They added rookie Tyler Smith in the draft with their first-round pick, but other than that haven’t done much to improve the line going into the season. The injury to Tyron Smith forced the Cowboys to look outside of the organization for help, signing veteran left tackle, Jason Peters. With Peters working back into game shape, the team was forced to go into week one without him. Ultimately, the inexperienced on the line cost the team their star quarterback.
Ultimately I’d be wary of rolling out any of the Cowboys starters in my lineups besides Dalton Schultz and Ezekiel Elliot, who can provide a nice safety blanket for Rush. The Buccaneers are a good defense, and a good team overall, but it was a different-looking Cowboys than what we saw in last year’s opener. If you have better options on your bench for your wideouts, with better matchups (or quarterback situations) it may benefit to look there first. Lamb is a flex option this week until we are shown he can carry this load. All other Wideouts are off the board for me.