Cowboys QB controversy? Jerry Jones raises notion to media — not the other way around
FRISCO, Texas — Jerry Jones needed no prompting.
The Dallas Cowboys team owner and general manager wasn’t initially asked about a potential quarterback controversy should Cooper Rush keep winning like he did Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. He also hadn’t yet been asked about franchise quarterback Dak Prescott’s return from a thumb fracture in his throwing hand. In fact, he wasn’t even scheduled to meet Thursday with media.
But Jones stopped for a conversation in the hallway of team headquarters. Soon, on his own accord, he brought up the Cowboys’ 2016 season, when Prescott took over for an injured Tony Romo and never relinquished the starting quarterback job.
Could history repeat itself?
“Wouldn’t it be something if the same thing happened? This is the way I think,” Jones said. “Wouldn’t it be something if you had a dilemma as to which way you go? You do that if [Rush] gets 10 wins. Same thing that happened with Prescott.
“I think like that.”
The Cowboys struggled on offense in their season-opening loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 11, with Prescott completing 14 of 29 passes (48.3%) for 134 yards and an interception in an uncharacteristically off night. In the fourth quarter of that game, Prescott suffered a fracture near the joint of his thumb when Tampa Bay outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett hit his throwing hand. He attempted to play through the injury before realizing he was unable to grip the ball.
Prescott underwent surgery the following day, with an expected recovery timeline of four to six weeks. The Cowboys declined to place him on injured reserve, indicating a desire that he practice, if not also play, sooner than four weeks.
Rush started vs. the Bengals on Sunday, guiding Dallas to his second win in as many career starts (he also won at Minnesota last October). Rush completed 19 of 31 passes (61.3%) for 235 yards and a touchdown.
Nonetheless, Prescott’s 53-33 career record and $40 million-per-year contract speak to the difference between him and Rush, a 2017 undrafted free agent who has thrown fewer NFL passes (94) than Prescott has thrown touchdowns (143).
So would Jones really welcome a controversy?
“Of course I would,” he said Thursday. “Of course, that means we’d have won. If he comes in and plays as well as Prescott plays? If Rush played that well and over these next few games ahead? I’d walk to New York to get that.”
He’d really consider keeping a healthy Prescott on the sideline?
“I don’t want to go that much in the weeds with that,” Jones said, finally tapping the brakes a little.
Headlines like these undoubtedly contribute to the Cowboys’ ranking as the most valuable franchise in sports, Jones typically speaking at least three times a week during the NFL season atop impromptu and eyebrow-raising remarks like these.
A decision to roll with Rush would qualify, regardless of the next few weeks’ outcome. Jones acknowledged that Prescott’s recovery timeline is shorter than Romo’s was, and Rush is unlikely to play 10 games before Prescott is available.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott, who was also a rookie in 2016 and ended up the league’s rushing champion, said he doesn’t focus on such hypotheticals.
“People on TV who get clicks, get views are going to say the most outrageous stuff to get attention,” Elliott said. “That’s their job. Who knows if they even believe that?”
Elliott was then told that Jones, in the Cowboys’ own building, had pondered a quarterback “dilemma.”
“There you go, that’s a classic example,” he said. “He wants y’all to be clicking and listening to him, too.
“It’s all marketing, man. It’s all marketing.”
Follow Yahoo Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein