FRISCO, Texas – They might not like it, but the Cowboys have entered Big Picture Territory.
It's understandable if executives, coaches and players would rather focus on the present. There are still seven games left to play, and the job description insists that they buckle down and find ways to win them.
"We are going to play each game and hopefully improve each week," said Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones on Monday. "If we can start to turn some of these performances into wins, we will get right back in it."
Outside of their building, though, is the general public considering the facts – a 2-7 record, a decimated roster and the obvious absence of their franchise quarterback. It's equally understandable if fans and media would prefer to look at the big picture over the present situation.
There's no better example of that strange balance than Monday's call with reporters, when Jones was asked a fascinating question that is already being debated.
As it stands right now, the Cowboys hold the third-worst record in the NFL. They seem to be heading toward a lofty draft pick during a year that may see several high-caliber quarterback prospects – such as Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields – declare for the NFL draft.
Given that their Pro Bowl quarterback, Dak Prescott, is currently recovering from a traumatic ankle injury and isn't expected to be healthy until the spring, it's only natural to connect the dots.
If they're placed in that position, would the Cowboys consider drafting a new quarterback?
On that, Jones had an emphatic answer.
"Dak's our quarterback. We're so fired up about him – him leading us in the future," he said.
It has been almost one month exactly since Prescott suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle on Oct. 11 against the New York Giants. He underwent a successful surgery that night and has been around the team in the early going of his recovery over the last few weeks.
In the immediate aftermath of the injury, the Cowboys said Prescott was looking at a four-to-six month timeline for recovery. From the sounds of it, that's still the case – and actually, Prescott sounds to be ahead of the curve.
"Yes, he's been able to avoid any setbacks," Jones said. "If anything, he's ahead of schedule -- which shouldn't be surprising the way he goes after any challenge. It's full speed ahead with Dak and he's done a great job at this point."
It goes without saying that Prescott's future will be one of the most heavily-scrutinized storylines of 2021. In addition to his ongoing recovery and his hopeful return to the field sometime in the spring, there's also the matter of his contract situation.
Prescott suffered the injury while playing on the franchise tag, and NFL rules stipulate that he and the club can't negotiate an extension until after this season. Jones said the front office hasn't given much thought to that during the ongoing ups and downs of this season. But when the time comes, Prescott is still in need of a new contract – or another franchise tag.
"We really haven't had any conversations with Dak since his injury other than talk about how he's doing physically in terms of his injury and rehab," he said. "We haven't talked about in particular the future or anything to do with the contract at this point."
There's plenty of time for those conversations to happen. The Cowboys are still only at the midpoint of their season. But whatever speculation might be to come from the outside, there seems to be a clear answer coming from within.
"Certainly, we're fired up about our future with Dak," Jones said.