Dustin Vaughan doesn’t know whether he will return to AT&T Stadium next weekend for the season opener. The Cowboys may not know for sure either.
In Jason Garrett’s five seasons as head coach, the Cowboys have carried three quarterbacks on the 53-player roster three times. They kept only two quarterbacks in 2012 and ‘13.
Vaughan served as the third quarterback behind Tony Romo and Brandon Weeden last season. The only game he dressed for was the Arizona game that Romo missed with two transverse fractures in his back.
“I think there will be a lot of conversation,” quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson said. “We’re deep at a lot of other positions. We’ll just have to see how the numbers work out.”
Vaughan played the entire game, completing 11 of 20 passes for 115 yards and a 71.9 passer rating.
“I thought he did some good things in the game,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “There were some throws that we missed on offense, but to hang in there when you don’t have success, and you’re fighting to get drives started, I just thought he did a good job. At critical moments, he made some big throws and converted some third downs and gave us a chance to go ahead there at the end of the ball game. I thought he handled himself well. We tried to give him a good opportunity and, for the most part, he handled himself, made good decisions and played well.”
The Cowboys hadn’t played for Vaughan to play the whole game. They had intended to give fourth quarterback Jameill Showers at least a series or two late.
The Cowboys, though, likely wanted to see how Vaughan performed with the game on the line. He led them on an eight-play, 48-yard drive, with Ben Malena scoring the winning touchdown on a 5-yard run with 3:14 remaining.
“I think he was up and down, but he showed enough to bring us back and get the winning drive,” Wilson said. “I was happy for him for that.”
Vaughan had 26 drives, not counting kneel-downs, and the Cowboys scored on only three. He finished 35-of-67 for 343 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions for a 54.5 passer rating.
Was it enough?
The Cowboys will keep four tight ends and a fullback, so can they afford to use a valuable spot on a third quarterback with Romo fully healthy? They will have to go short somewhere.
Vaughan knows the reality of his situation.
“There are a lot of guys who think they’ve shown enough, but the fact of the matter is that the brutal reality of the NFL is that it is out of our control now,” Vaughan said. “You hope you’ve shown enough, and yes, I think I did, but you leave it up to the coaches to make that decision.”