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Mailbag: How Should The Cowboys Proceed At QB?

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With Andy Dalton on the Reserve/COVID-19 list this week, what do the Cowboys do at quarterback with the Steelers up next? What would you do? — MIKE SMITH / DALLAS, TX

Nick: I honestly think I would lean towards starting Cooper Rush, who should have way more knowledge and understanding of this offense with Kellen Moore. Now, the flip side of the argument is trying to see what Ben DiNucci really has. He's a young guy that you want to develop. But then again, the saying "throwing him to the wolves" has never been more applicable. This is the toughest challenge for any quarterback and I don't think the rookie is ready for this. Doesn't mean he doesn't start again this year, but maybe not this week.

David: If the coaching staff doesn't feel comfortable throwing Ben DiNucci out there against this defense, I'd imagine we'll see Cooper Rush. He's got plenty of experience working with Kellen Moore, and I trust that he can grasp the basic tenants of the offense in time to play in this game. If you're asking me what I'd do? I'm not even kidding when I say that I'd seriously consider trying to run as much Wildcat as possible with Zeke Elliott and Tony Pollard. It's not ideal, but throwing the ball doesn't feel like a recipe for much success. Might as well maximize what you can get out of your running game.

Now that we have most of our injured defensive players back and have had eight regular-season games of experience, can you see this defense becoming an elite unit without major changes? — LES HOFFMAN / PELL CITY, AL

Nick: Sorry, did you say elite? Like, outstanding and top of the line? No, that's impossible because no one who is coming back is even on a star level. I think the best you can hope for is just to have a competent defense that can make the occasional play with a timely sack or turnover. I don't think this defense can get close to elite without about two drafts with a heavy focus on defense.

David: Elite? No way. There's only one player on this unit that you could even attempt to classify as elite, and that's DeMarcus Lawrence. Hopefully, Leighton Vander Esch can continue to progress, but that's still only two players. Now, think about how many guys in the secondary are impending free agents. Regardless of how much they improve down the stretch, this is a unit that's going to need to retool during free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft – big time.

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