In Sunday’s game against the Giants we, unfortunately, got to see Dak Prescott go down in quite a heap, ultimately fracturing and dislocating his right ankle.
The Cowboys quarterback has not missed a start since he entered the league as a fourth-round pick in 2016, but after his injury which will sideline him for four to six months, that streak will come to an end.
Cowboys’ fans are no strangers to their starting quarterback going down to injury. Tony Romo was plagued with all sorts of devastating injuries throughout his career. In prior years, you could pretty much throw the season away when the starter went down because of the painfully poor backup play. But this year is much different.
This year, metroplex legend Andy Dalton will take over.
The TCU alum was the Bengals second-round pick in 2011. He started in Cincinnatti for nine seasons. In three of those years, he was selected to the Pro Bowl, including his rookie season. In four of those years, he led his team to the playoffs. But due to a lack of weapons beside him and a consistently weak offensive line, he was never able to advance past the first round.
His time with the Bengals came to an end when they used the first overall pick to select rookie quarterback, Joe Burrow.
Most people thought that Dalton was going to be a highly sought after guy in free agency, likely to fill a starting role, but he somewhat quickly and somewhat surprisingly signed with Dallas to be Dak’s backup quarterback.
It seemed like a strange signing for both parties. For Dalton, it seemed a bit odd because he probably could have found somewhere to start, and for Dallas, investing in a backup quarterback like Andy was surprising because, as I stated above, Dak Prescott had never missed a start. For myself personally, I was pretty excited about the signing because I had always loved Andy Dalton. Many people immediately declared him the best backup quarterback in the league.
It is devastating to see Dak go down with an injury for many reasons. He has gone through a lot as a person over the last year, he is up for a massive contract next season, and he was playing the best football he had ever played.
From a straight football perspective, the Cowboys are not dead without him. Dak adds a dimension to the offense that Andy Dalton will not be able to replicate, but there are still plenty of ways to win games. The offense’s biggest weakness is the offensive line, which just sounds ridiculous to say, but that is something that Andy Dalton is used to. In fact, last season on the Bengals, Dalton, on average, got rid of the football the fastest. His first play in Sunday’s game resulted in a sack.
Dalton will not be able to escape pressure with his legs on the same level that Dak was able to, but he at least has some mobility. In a play on Sunday, with the game on the line, Dalton felt pressure, rolled out of the pocket to his left, and found Gallup on the sideline, who made a great toe-tapping catch while falling out of bounds. He also has unlimited weapons. This offense is built to succeed regardless of who is under center. He will have one of the best three-man receiving corps (Cooper, Gallup, Lamb), and almost certainly the best four-man receiving corps (Cooper, Gallup, Lamb, Wilson) in the NFL. He also has one of the best running backs in the league in Ezekiel Elliott. I suspect the “Red Rifle” will be able to put up some pretty impressive numbers.
Andy Dalton brings a veteran presence and leadership to a team that is losing its heart and soul. The number of wins for this team may not decrease significantly going forward, but the ceiling might. The NFC East is still winnable. The Cowboys lead the pack at 2-3, with the Eagles right behind them at 1-2-1, the Redskins in third at 1-4, and the Giants bringing up the back at 0-5. This division is one of the worst in NFL history.
The Eagles and Wentz certainly showed flashes of being an OK team on Sunday against the Steelers. As much as I hate that team, I have a hard time believing that they will stay this bad. When some of their players return from injury, they may be able to compete for the division. The Cowboys also have a ton of players hurt. LVE, Sean Lee, and Awuzie should all return to the defense at some point this season.
All that being said, this season should not be thrown away. Andy Dalton is capable of winning the division. He will make his first start for the Cowboys on Monday Night Football against the Arizona Cardinals and Kyler Murray.
It will likely have to be a shootout unless Dallas’ defense can find a way to slow down the high-powered Cardinals offense.
Andy Dalton will have a great opportunity to display his ability as a talented starting quarterback.
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