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What's Up at QB? Dak's chance at certainty


FRISCO, Texas — The Cowboys have been benefited by having a relative level of certainty going into a season at the quarterback position for the better part of the last two decades. Tony Romo's taking of the reins in 2006 carried on for roughly 10 years before ushering in the Dak Prescott era in 2016. Since then, No. 4 is what Cowboys fans have gotten used to behind center every Sunday.

But heading into a season where Prescott and the entire quarterback room behind him enters the final seasons of their respective contracts, a lot of uncertainty could await past 2024. As a result, it's tough to argue any season being as important as this one towards determining what the future could look like for the foreseeable future in Dallas.

Prescott is coming off a career year. And while on paper it should give way to confidence, sustained playoff success has not followed any regular season performance – good or bad – that he has put forth in the NFL. With a capable backup and a young developing talent behind him, it feels appropriate to take a look at "What's Up" in the quarterback room going into 2024.

What We Know: At age 30, Dak Prescott is playing the best football of his career. After a 2022 season that was handicapped by injury and marred with turnover struggles, Prescott got healthy and turned in the best season of his career, finishing second in MVP voting and notching the third Pro Bowl nod of his career. The career season coincided with Mike McCarthy taking over as play-caller in 2023 which helped maximize Prescott's mobility while also making it easier to find open receivers in a "Texas Coast" offensive system. The expectation is that a second season with McCarthy and Prescott working together could only write a more fruitful story, but it won't matter if the ending remains the same.

What We Don't Know: There is just as much questioning today as there was at the end of August last year when the Cowboys traded a fourth-round pick for Trey Lance. Now, with a year of development under McCarthy and quarterbacks coach Scott Tolzien, Lance will have the opportunity to put his ascension on full display during training camp and the preseason. The former No. 3 overall pick once played with confidence, swagger and poise. All of those traits seemed to be lost at some point during his time in San Francisco, but the confidence is high in the building – and within Lance – that his moment has returned in time to put it on display.

What to Watch For: Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said early in the offseason that Trey Lance and Cooper Rush would compete for the backup quarterback position during training camp in Oxnard, and it will be a battle to closely watch. Rush, who has proven to be more than capable when called upon during the regular season, will have to take on the young and improving Lance, who will have all of the buzz and eyeballs as the new toy in the quarterback room. Can the veteran keep his spot or will the youngster take full advantage of his second chance?

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