Dallas Cowboys upcoming 4-game stretch is vitally important

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

When Dak Prescott went down with a broken thumb and was predicted to miss 6-8 weeks, it immediately became a doom and gloom scenario for the Dallas Cowboys. The fans of Cowboys Nation started making mock draft picks for the 2023 draft because the Cowboys season was effectively over.

Those panic concerns seemed legitimate because how could the Cowboys win without Dak being under center for almost two months? Combine vanilla play calling and relying on Cooper Rush to save the day, and it was too much for even the most optimistic Cowboys fans to overcome.

The Dallas Cowboys had already lost in the worst way in the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bengals were on deck, followed by divisional opponents (New York Giants and Washington Commanders), the defending Super Bowl champs (Los Angeles Rams), And don’t forget those evil buzzards known as the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Dallas Cowboys still have the opportunity to save their season with some winnable games on their schedule.

If Dallas can just go 2-2 in this next four-game stretch, it will sit at .500-that’s either with Dak or without him. Dallas will gladly accept that because the next half of their schedule gets easier. If Dallas does better than that, then job well done.

In typical Dallas Cowboys fashion, the Cowboys went into Sunday’s game against the Bengals as huge underdogs but beat the Bengals with a game-winning field goal. That classic upset gave them new life and the opportunity to not only stay in the divisional race but salvage a season that appeared to be all but over just a week ago.

Dallas’ backup quarterback, Cooper Rush, won his second career start, played a more than solid game, going 19-31 for 235 yards and a touchdown. In fact, Rush completed timely passes on the game winning drive with clutch play you expect from a starting quarterback, putting Dallas on field goal range to seal the victory.

Dallas’ defense playing lights out with six sacks and forcing a turnover is expected because of Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence, but if you told me Rush would take the reins and give Dallas a 17-3 halftime lead then I would have to question your sanity.

I understand Rush saved the day last season against the Minnesota Vikings, but this is a new season with new players, schemes, and different opponents. Besides, Rush is a backup quarterback for a reason, not some first rounder waiting in the wings for the Dak to retire.

Regardless, Rush winning a big-time game early in the season with good quarterback play speaks volumes about his readiness because this time around he’s expected to start at least three more games before Dak returns.

Last season’s debut against the Vikings was like a one-game audition that Rush passed easily. Just like last season’s upset victory over the Vikings helped Dallas in the win column, the victory over the Bengals did the same but on a larger scale. Dallas could ill-afford to start out 0-2, and the likelihood of it happening was certain. But Rush and Dallas’ defense had other plans.

I know you’re probably asking, “So what? Rush is just a backup who caught the Bengals at the wrong time slipping with an awful offensive line.”

Maybe so, but this win puts Dallas in position to control their own destiny when it comes against their next two opponents: the Giants and Commanders.

I understand it’s against divisional rivals and anything can happen, but I refuse to believe Dallas’ defense cannot handle Daniel Jones and Carson Wentz. Furthermore, I know Dallas has enough offensive weapons to overcome any defense those two archrivals throw at them.

No, I’m not saying Dallas has a high-octane offense with Rush under center, but Dallas’ offense played way better against a decent Bengals defense with Rush taking command. Therefore, Rush can do it again.

If the Dallas Cowboys can beat the Giants and Commanders in the next two weeks, Dallas will have a 3-1 record with two tough games ahead of them facing the Rams and Eagles. This is important because Dallas will have two divisional wins and right behind the Eagles. Meaning Dallas has not lost any ground to their nemesis and still in the hunt for the divisional crown or at least challenge for it.

Because any team can lose on any given Sunday, Dallas could steal a victory against the Rams, too. The Rams are beatable and look like a shell of themselves from last season.

The main reason why the Dallas Cowboys are sitting in a great position is because of the defense. Please, will someone remind the league that Dallas’ defense has only allowed two touchdowns this season, and that means they’re more than capable of stifling the Giants and Commanders offense with ease-followed by at least containing the Rams and Eagles offense.

Yes, I’m aware of the Eagles electric offense with Jalen Hurts playing really well, but Dallas’ defense sacked Brady and Burrows a combined eight times-the latter forcing six sacks. Philly has one of the best offensive lines in the league, so it will be tough to get to Hurst, but Dallas has the “War Daddies” to combat Philly’s massive offensive line.

As for the Giants and Commanders, two teams with below-average offensive lines, that spells trouble for them. Can you imagine the sacks, pressures, and hits Parsons will lay on Jones and Daniels?

My Gawd! That man might be the first NFL player ever voted to an All-Pro team after four games…HA HA.

Sidenote: the best thing that can happen is for Rush to continue to play well, Dallas goes on a winning streak and for Dak to rest up, so he’s completely healed when he returns. Oh, by the way, Dak is the franchise quarterback and Rush is zero threat to his starting job.

In summary,

After the surprising Week 2 win, we know three important things about the Dallas Cowboys moving forward:

  1. Rush is a competent backup quarterback that has a rapport with his wide receivers (especially with Noah Brown),
  2. Dallas’ pass rush is lethal,
  3. and Tony Pollard needs more touches because he’s a versatile runner with the ability to score at given time. Of course, feed Ezekiel Elliott, too, with both in the backfield at the same time.

The most important thing is to allow Rush to play to his strengths and continue to develop his rapport with Brown and the rest of the wide receiving corps. Another thing is allowing Rush to sling it downfield more. Good things happen with those deep throws. At the end of the day, Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore will only instill more confidence in Coop, giving him that umph you need from your field general.

If Dallas can just go 2-2 in this next four-game stretch, it will sit at .500-that’s either with Dak or without him. Dallas will gladly accept that because the next half of their schedule gets easier. If Dallas does better than that, then job well done.

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But the most important thing is that Dallas is 1-1 with a boatload of confidence heading into Monday night’s showdown against the undefeated Giants with the opportunity to beat them and secure second place in the NFC East.

The Dallas Cowboys has a heartbeat and are still alive. That alone will always give them a fighting chance over the next four weeks.