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Mike McCarthy pushes back against Jerry Jones’ comments on Dallas Cowboys QB controversy

Matt Johnson
Dallas Cowboys, Mike McCarthy, Jerry Jones
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is no stranger to creating headlines with his comments in the media. After one of the richest owners in the NFL indicated on Thursday he would welcome a quarterback controversy, head coach Mike McCarthy is now making it clear that won’t happen on his watch.

Dak Prescott remains sidelined with a fractured thumb, an injury that could keep him off the field for several more weeks. In his place, backup quarterback Cooper Rush led Dallas on a game-winning drive in a Week 2 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. It sparked appreciation from the fan base and even the suggestion from Jones that an eventual quarterback controversy would be amazing for the franchise.

  • Cooper Rush stats (Week 2): 19-of-31, 235 passing yards, 95.5 passer rating, 7.6 ypa

Rush, undrafted out of Central Michigan in 2017, proved himself once again. The quality performance as the fill-in starter added to his small sample size of success, including a Week 7 victory last season that saw him post a 2-1 TD-INT ratio with 325 passing yards and a 92.2 passer rating during a win over the Minnesota Vikings.

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Jones seemed welcoming to an eventual quarterback controversy, since it would mean Dallas played exceptionally well during Prescott’s absence and Rush played a huge part in the victories. However, it added fuel to reckless speculation about what the Cowboys might do if they go undefeated with their backup quarterback.

On Friday, McCarthy made it clear to reporters that Prescott will start the moment he is cleared to play no matter how well Rush plays in the weeks ahead.

“Clearly, everybody in our locker room and everybody in the building, Jerry included, Dak is our quarterback. We want Cooper to be successful as possible. So, I think it stops right there.”

Dallas Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy on Jerry Jones comments about a QB controversy (H/T Jon Machota)

There is no surprise that Prescott will remain the Cowboys’ starting quarterback. He is a leader in the locker room, played an instrumental role in Rush’s success last week and there remains a ton of faith in him within the organization. However, the latest comments from Jones do point to one problem for the franchise.

Early estimates following Prescott’s surgery indicated that he would miss approximately six weeks, with the possibility for a Week 6 return. If he played for any other NFL team, the organization would stick to the four-to-six-week timeline and provide limited updates on his progression. However, that’s not the case with Dallas.

Jerry Jones’ weekly comments causing problems for Dallas Cowboys

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Because Jones holds weekly radio appearances and meets with reporters on a regular basis, he puts out a message that is favorable and optimistic. He first announced that Prescott wouldn’t be placed on injured reserve and even hinted that the Cowboys’ quarterback might play after missing two games.

Reporters also shared that Jones announced Prescott’s injury immediately after the Sunday Night Football loss before some of the players in the locker room were even informed.

All of it puts added pressure on Prescott to return sooner than doctors might even clear him to play. Because Jones raised the possibility of the Pro Bowl quarterback taking the field in Week 4, fans might now think Prescott is behind schedule or taking his time in his recovery. It also puts more pressure on the Cowboys’ medical staff and coaches. If McCarthy is vague with a return timetable before Week 4, it might generate speculation about a setback all because of the optimism Jones expressed.

Ultimately, everyone in the organization is used to Jones doing this. However, the latest comments from Jones did nothing to ease the pressure Prescott could be under during his recovery. It is seemingly all for the benefit of the franchise’s name being in the headlines more frequently, something that hasn’t translated to meaningful on-field success in decades.