FRISCO, Texas – If he's healthy and ready to play, Andy Dalton will be the Cowboys' starting quarterback when the team returns from the bye week.
That is according to Cowboys VP Stephen Jones, who reiterated the point twice on Monday when asked by the local media during a conference call, as well as his scheduled radio segment on 105.3 "The Fan" in Dallas.
"Obviously, Andy is our quarterback now that Dak is out for the year," Jones said. "Certainly if he gets back and hopefully he'll be passing his protocol in his concussion and be ready to go as far as the coronavirus is concerned. It's our bye week, so, that really gives him a chance to get up to speed. So, we'll just have to see what the next two weeks bring."
But make no mistake, Jones was more than encouraged by what he saw out of Garrett Gilbert, who made his first NFL start on Sunday. Despite facing one of the league's toughest defenses, Gilbert had the Cowboys on the brink of a major upset, throwing the ball into the end zone on final play of a 24-19 loss.
"I thought he was just outstanding. He exceeded all expectations and gave us a chance to win," said Jones, who pointed out that Gilbert's fourth-quarter interception was his only big mistake. "He had a tough play there, trying to make a play for us. I think he was going to throw it away. Overall, he gave us everything opportunity to have success and win the game. He really played well."
But well enough to eventually start over Dalton? Jones wouldn't go that far.
"We've got to take each week, week to week," Jones said. "Certainly, Dalton has got to pass all of the protocols, whether it's concussion or virus to get himself ready to go, coming off the bye week. If he's able to do that he'll be our quarterback. We'll take each week from there."
Gilbert has been around the league since 2014 and is certainly no stranger to playing here in Texas, having been a high school legend, followed by stints at both Texas and SMU. He bounced around several teams, only throwing six career passes in the NFL before Sunday.
Gilbert's last start of any kind came in the now-defunct AAF where he led the league in passing for eight games with the Orlando Apollos before signing with Cleveland. The Cowboys added him to their practice squad after Dak went down with the ankle injury.
Technically, he's under contract with the Cowboys through the 2021 season.
That is not the case for Dalton, who is a free agent at the end of this year.