Can the Cowboys survive without Dak Prescott? Here are three things to consider before you answer that question

Dan Rogers

The Dallas Cowboys' 2020 season will mostly be remembered as the year they were without their franchise quarterback Dak Prescott. It's one of the reasons fans are excited for the upcoming season despite finishing with a 6-10 a year ago. Not having Dak makes a huge difference.

It's that same sentiment that has Cowboys Nation a little on edge as we hold our collective breath and impatiently wait to hear some positive news on Prescott's right shoulder. And hopefully, we won't have to wait too much longer as Dak is scheduled to have an MRI on his shoulder when the team returns home after their next preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.

The team has even gone as far as saying he could receive a little bit of game action the following week in their third preseason game against the Houston Texans if he is cleared to go.

Whether Prescott's shoulder is good to go or not, we should all brace ourselves for the possibility that the team could be without Dak at a moment's notice. Injuries happen on the time, and despite Prescott's first four seasons of never missing a start, any player is one fluke play away from having their season cut short. It's the reality the comes with the NFL. Losing any one player, Prescott included, shouldn't completely derail a team's season. If it does, the front office has failed us in their inability to find adequate replacements to help this team compete. And while it's a bridge nobody wants to cross right now, we should ask ourselves - can this Cowboys team win games without Dak Prescott?

The team's quarterback reserves leave something to be desired. Currently, the group consists of Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush, and Ben DiNucci - who have a combined two starts between them. The Cowboys lost both of those games. There appears to be no real competition for the backup job as Gilbert is the clear leader as Rush and DiNucci haven't looked so good in camp. Those two will likely be released with one of them possibly getting signed to the team's practice squad.

That leaves the fate of the team solely in Gilbert's hands should something happen to Prescott where Dak becomes unavailable. How do you feel about that? Would this just be deja vu all over again as we sit through a repeat of the 2020 season? I profess that it would not and here are three reasons why the Cowboys can survive without Dak Prescott.

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Cowboys backup QB Garrett Gilbert@thescore210 / Twitter

Garrett Gilbert is decent

We only got one game to see Gilbert in action, and he actually did okay. Against Pittsburgh last year, he went 21/38 for 243 yards and one touchdown. He also threw one interception. And while the Cowboys ultimately lost that game and dropped to 2-7 on the year, they hung with a Steelers team that ended up starting the season with an 11-0 record. In fact, they had a chance to win the game in the end thanks to Gilbert. With just 38 seconds left in the game, the Cowboy had the ball at their own 19-yard line. After two 20+ yard completions to CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup respectively, Gilbert had one final chance to complete the upset. Unfortunately, he couldn't pull it off, but the effort shouldn't go unnoticed.

Because of Prescott's shoulder, Gilbert is getting a lot of reps in camp. He continues to build rapport with an arsenal of receiving weapons. He was teammates with Kellen Moore for a few months in 2015 when both of them were trying to make the team on the Detroit Lions. Both of them ended up being cut, but their paths eventually crossed again when the Cowboys signed Gilbert off the Cleveland Browns practice squad last year. The team sees something in him and he's actually performing well enough in camp to keep the organization from going out and signing a veteran backup.

Zeke and the OLine

Prescott wasn't the only star player the Cowboys lost last season. Three of their best offensive lineman missed a collective total of 36 games last year. Tyron Smith (14 games), La'el Collins (16), and Zack Martin (6) all missed a significant amount of time last season, making it incredibly difficult for the offense to function. All of these players are healthy now. While more injuries are always a possibility, the Cowboys would have to be really unlucky to endure anything as severe as they did a year ago. The team also has some young reserves in their back pocket as players like Connor McGovern and Terence Steele are showing some nice improvement in training camp.

Not only does the team have a healthier offensive line, but they also have a leaner and more determined Ezekiel Elliott. This offense is loaded with exciting receiving options, but this team should still deliver a good dose of the run game. With a better line and a more energized Elliott, this running game will alleviate a lot of pressure from whoever is playing the quarterback position.

Better D equals better days

The defense has a lot of question marks, but there stands a good chance that some of these answers turn out favorable. The Cowboys have a new defensive coordinator in Dan Quinn who everyone in camp is praising. They also have one of the most athletic defenders from this year's draft. Those two alone are enough to make us excited.

With an improved defense should come more favorable game scripts where the offense isn't always forced into a shootout. While Prescott delivered some huge passing outings a year ago, this shouldn't be something the offense is required to do if the defense can show up and make plays. And that will take some of the pressure off of Gilbert.

Obviously, there is no replacing Prescott as he's a special player. However, should he miss time, the Cowboys shouldn't have to just curl up in the fetal position and die. They have the pieces to compete. Between a solid backup in Gilbert, improved health on the offensive line, and a slightly improved defense, the crash-and-burn fallout of last year shouldn't resurface in 2021.

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