After Week 1 disaster, what's next for Dak and the Cowboys?

Dak Prescott is going to miss at least the next month and very likely more as he recovers from the thumb surgery expected to take place Monday. The Dallas Cowboys will be without the most essential part of their offense for several weeks, and it's the biggest hit this snakebitten team has faced this season yet.

Prescott's thumb injury occurred toward the end of a game where the Cowboys' offensive woes had been exposed by Todd Bowles' defense. A dearth of talent at receiver, a not-yet-ready offensive line and an overall unit that continues to shoot itself in the foot all were overshadowed by Prescott's injury.

The Cowboys are now without Prescott's physical talents but also his leadership just as the season begins. The Cowboys were already without offensive line leader Tyron Smith, who may not return until the winter, if at all. Now they're down Prescott in a leadership department desperate for someone to take control.

"Yeah, it obviously isn't what you want to hear. It's not the worst thing that's happened to me," Prescott said after the game. "It's just another bump in the road and I'll keep moving forward. I'll do everything that I can, that I can control, to get myself back, to get myself better, help this team and be the best I can in this role."

There's an aura about Prescott that's difficult to describe to those who haven't been around him. I could sense it instantly on the field in Oxnard, Calif., early in Cowboys' camp this summer. As camp turned to preseason and preseason turned to a number of significant worries about this team before Week 1, Prescott's presence created a sense of calm.

Now you have a Cowboys offense that has no reliable wide receiver outside of CeeDee Lamb, who hauled in just two of his 11 targets Sunday night. Michael Gallup continues to recover from an ACL injury suffered late last year, and third-round rookie Jalen Tolbert was beaten out for a game-day jersey by undrafted free agent pickup Dennis Houston.

Tyler Smith may very well be the left tackle of the future for Dallas, but it's the present today and Jason Peters can't get ramped up quickly enough.

The Cowboys were the most penalized team in the league last year with 127; the league average is just above 100. Their 10 penalties Sunday are currently tied for third-most in the league as Week 1 winds to a close. The eight offensive penalties are the most so far.

The saving grace so far is the defense and perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate Micah Parsons. The Buccaneers got inside the Dallas 30 six times and came away with only 19 points. Entering the game the Tom Brady-era Buccaneers were 1-8 in games in which they didn't score more than 24 points.  

So Dallas can win, and it can win with Cooper Rush, as the Cowboys did last season in Minnesota. But a leader has to emerge for the Cowboys to get them through the next several weeks.

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