The Cowboys have officially entered the bye week, and to say it is much-needed would be an understatement. Few teams in the NFL have experienced the type of injuries the Cowboys have dealt with all year, especially to key positions such as the quarterback.
As the team gets the weekend off, let's dive into some pressing questions that surround this team and the final seven games of the schedule.
Today, we begin the five-part series with a hot topic around the most high-profile position.
Should They Consider Gilbert Over Dalton?
Kyle Youmans: Consider? Absolutely. Actually make the switch? Not really. Gilbert played well enough against Pittsburgh to at least get that conversation rolling with his elusiveness out of the pocket and his command at the line of scrimmage. But right now, Andy Dalton still gives you the better chance to win and has also not been given a fair shot at the same time. Gilbert's game was nice, but what sort of advantage can he give you over what Dalton would bring? The answer is not much. Dalton is going to be the QB and that's the right choice, but don't be surprised if it's a much shorter rope if things go south.
Nick Eatman: I would consider Gilbert over Dalton ... if the veteran struggles or doesn't play well against Minnesota. I think Dalton deserves a chance to come back and start this week. Let's not forget how important Zack Martin is to the offensive line. He seems to bring a steadiness across the board. And Dalton hasn't really played with Martin, who was hurt very early in that Arizona game and didn't return until Philly. I think if you look at the last two games, just a tad better quarterback play in either game results in a victory. And even though Gilbert provided a spark, he wasn't that great – just better than what we've seen before. He led the offense to one touchdown and four field goals. They didn't take advantage of some short fields. I think Dalton should be better than Gilbert in those areas. Now, if it doesn't work out next week, then I wouldn't mind having a short leash and going back to Gilbert, especially since he'd give a different look that Washington didn't see the first time around. Overall, I was very impressed with Gilbert, and wouldn't mind seeing him again. But at this point, I'd give Dalton another shot.
Mickey Spagnola: If ANDY Dalton is healthy and cleared from concussion protocol, the Cowboys should stick with the veteran quarterback. He really didn't receive a fair chance in his first start in that Arizona game. In a blink of the eye, the Cowboys fell behind 31-3, and suddenly the backup quarterback now the starter ends up throwing the ball 54 times. That is a recipe for disaster. And we know what happened against Washington. Look, Gilbert did a remarkable job against the Steelers for the predicament he was placed in, but let's remember they had problems in the red zone, moving the ball but ending up with too many field goals.
David Helman: Let's talk in a few weeks. As much as some fans don't want to hear it, the Cowboys are technically still alive in the division race, and I'd rather have a veteran quarterback trying to keep them competitive. On top of that, I think it's only fair to give Andy Dalton a chance to prove himself and potentially set himself up for another opportunity when his contract expires. There's a lot of season left, so if the Cowboys lose a few more games and are clearly out of the race in December, then we can give Garrett Gilbert his shot.
Rob Phillips: I said right after Sunday's game that I would go back to Dalton when he's ready, and I'm sticking with it. Gilbert played very well on one week's reps aside from the interception, and he was hit as he threw. He showed some mobility, too, which is important behind a banged-up offensive line. But the Cowboys are still in the business of trying to win games, and I can't argue with their apparent feeling that Dalton's experience gives them the best chance. As well as Gilbert played, the offense did settle for four field goals against Pittsburgh. Maybe Dalton can turn some of those drives into TDs. But protecting him will be a priority.