America's team have the second easiest schedule behind division rival Philadelphia. Expectations are high in Arlington for a bounce-back season. A few days have…
With the dust now finally settling down in the aftermath of Dak Prescott’s injury, attention now turns to the Cowboys’ next game against Arizona and the challenge that the team is now faced with.
Andy Dalton will play out the rest of the season in Prescott’s place and for some, Dallas has gone from a 9-7 or 8-8 team with Prescott to a side that could miss the playoffs altogether with Dalton. I for one am not as doom-and-gloom as others and the fact is Jerry Jones got Dalton for this exact reason and Dalton is probably the best back up in the league, maybe slightly behind Nick Foles although now he is starting for Chicago.
The Cowboys sit at a disappointing 2-3 after their first five games and with Arizona, Washington and Philadelphia coming up in their next three games, they could easily find themselves at 5-3 as well as 3-5. It presents a great opportunity for Dalton to show the league that he can carry this team to the postseason.
I get the feeling that with Prescott now gone, the team will be a more run-based offence with Zeke Elliott and probably should have been from the start of the year. However, the truth is that Elliot will most likely need somewhere between 20 to 25 touches a game, whether that be running or catching the football.
Let us not discredit Dalton’s ability at quarterback either. He is 70-61-2 as a starter in the NFL which is slightly above .500, he has a career completion percentage of 62.0 per cent which is decent enough, he has 204 TDs to 118 INTs and that is a good ratio.
Add to that he is a three-time Pro Bowler and do not forget he led the Cincinnati Bengals to four consecutive seasons of ten-plus wins and led them to the playoffs in three of those seasons.
Now many will point to his playoff record, which is 0-4. In those four games, Dalton has been underwhelming to say the least, throwing for 873 yards, one TD, six INT, four fumbles and a 55.7 completion percentage.
It does not make for good reading but there is a silver lining here if you choose to look at it. Dalton has never been on a team that has such an embarrassment of riches on the offensive side of the ball. The only true star he had was AJ Green and to a lesser extent Giovani Bernard at running back.
Now, look at what who he gets work with. He has Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Ceedee Lamb and Zeke Elliott and you can add Dalton Schultz to that too. As we saw on Sunday when he was thrust into the game against the Giants Dalton went 9-12 for 111 yards (75 per cent completion) to set up the game-winning field goal for Greg Zuerlein.
He did have a fumble but that could be put down to rustiness and the fact that he had a rookie in at centre in Tyler Biadasz.
You can say what you want about the Red Rifle, but the fact is he is more than capable of leading Dallas to the playoffs in a weak division. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will lose some of the mobility that Prescott possesses. Dalton can scramble if needed but those designed quarterback runs will not be seen with him under centre.
I am not as down at the prospect of Andy Dalton leading Dallas for the rest of the year as some others are. He can do that job and with the offensive power that surrounds him, we might see a better version of him than what was in Cincinnati.
If that does happen then a terrifying scenario could play out. Jerry Jones could let Prescott walk and sign Dalton to a multi-year deal of around 20 or so million a year to be the quarterback for the Cowboys for the foreseeable future. It is a scenario that is unlikely to happen, but you can not put anything past Jones when it comes to business.
It is not the end of the season with Dalton playing quarterback for Dallas, as he has shown on more than one occasion he is up to the task. He is not the franchise quarterback of the future for Dallas but is a particularly good deputy to hold the fort down until Prescott returns.