The Dallas Cowboys offense suffered immensely last year when they couldn’t get solid quarterback play from any of their backups after Tony Romo was injured. You got to believe they don’t intend on going through that hell again. But identifying a problem and solving it are too different things. As G.I. Joe used to say, "knowing is half the battle."
The Cowboys think they had a solution with Kellen Moore and Dak Prescott slotted to be Romo’s backup. Coaches have been high on Moore, not even hinting around that the number two QB position is up for grabs. As with every position on a Jason Garrett coached team, competition is always present, but it has seemed as if Moore had a firm grip on the backup spot. Garrett constantly praises Kellen, as he is pleased with what Moore has shown. And it’s not just about making plays, but how he goes about his job. Despite what some fans thought of Moore, the coach certainly approved.
"He’s instinctive, an accurate passer, a quick decision-maker, and he’s a very good leader," Garrett said. "There are a lot of things that quarterbacks have to distinguish themselves from the others, and the best ones have those traits."
But that is no Moore.
Kellen broke his ankle during Tuesday’s practice and will miss a significant amount of time. The Cowboys will need to make other plans now. That will definitely open up more opportunities for rookie Dak Prescott, but the team will have to do better than that. Prescott is very raw and will need time to develop. This team can’t be expected to throw the kid to the wolves should something happen to Romo.
So, what then?
Nick Foles appeared to be the Cowboys first target. After St. Louis released Foles last week, his name had been buzzing among Cowboys fans. The team initially dispelled any interest in Foles, but after the injury to Moore, the team was interested. Stephen Jones talked to Foles agent, but the quarterback opted to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs.
But was he the right guy?
Foles had a phenomenal season for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 when he threw for 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He only started 10 games for them, but won eight of those contests. He’s one of those quarterbacks that has had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 when he threw seven touchdowns for 406 yards in a 49-20 beat down of Oakland.
But things haven’t been so rosy for Foles since the 2013 season. After such a stellar TD to INT ratio, he’s thrown the same amount of touchdowns as he has picks (20) over the last two seasons. He was benched in favor of Case Keenum for the Rams last five games of 2015. And here lies the problem – isn’t it a bit alarming that a struggling Rams offense has no interest in keeping him around? That’s a huge cause for concern. I once bought a McRib sandwich and it was so disgusting that after a couple bites, I tossed it on the ground to my dog. He sniffed at it, looked up at me, and politely walked away from the sandwich leaving it lying there on the floor. This is the same dog that can be found nibble on cat truffles in the back yard, yet he wouldn’t touch the McRib. How bad does it have to be for my dog to turn it down? And how bad do you have to be for the Rams to not want you?
The Cowboys don’t need a player that used to be good as they’ve traveled down that path with Matt Cassel. Instead, they need a player that is trending up or has demonstrated good play more recently.
So, what are the choices then?
Everyone has their own set of criteria for what makes a good quarterback and for me – Glennon checks off a lot of boxes. For starters, he’s got the arm strength to stretch the field. As our own Tom Ryle discussed earlier, that was one of the shortcomings with Kellen Moore. That’s an important aspect for the Cowboys offense, especially if you face a defense that will over-commit to stop the running game. The threat to go deep has to be there.
He’s got good size to see over people and is good at throwing his receivers open. Glennon has been consistent during his two playing seasons with Tampa Bay. He’s completed 59% of his passes and has had about a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio. The Buccaneers just haven’t been able to win games and his abilities seem to go to waste.
Glennon’s a young quarterback and Tampa Bay is very aware of the fact that he’s one of the stronger backups in the league so he’s not going to come cheap. The Cowboys would have to pay a hefty price to acquire his services.
2016 BACKUP RATING: Strong. He can step in and immediately contribute.
FUTURE RATING: Strong. Still young, high upside.
COST: Expensive; earlier round pick (2nd or 3rd) or maybe something involving Ron Leary.
LIKELINESS OF HAPPENING: As much as I want him, the chances aren’t great.
Like Glennon, McCown is another guy that you need to "look past the results" to see his true value. And like Glennon, he also couldn’t win games in Tampa Bay. But winning games is a team effort and McCown’s performance has been solid. His resume shows a recent history of playing well so he’s an immediate contributor.
Unlike Glennon, he’s not a spring chicken. He’s 37 years-old (compared 26 for Glennon). While he wouldn’t be any teams QB of the future, he’s the best "right-now" backup quarterback on the market. Geoff Magliocchetti described him well…
"McCown is like Mr. Chow from The Hangover franchise...he works best in small doses, but don't build the project around him. He has worked out as a solid back up (just look at his Chicago stint), but can never really cut it was a full time starter, which is the exact type of role the Cowboys would like him to fulfill. In addition, his age could mentor the other two NFL pass challenged quarterbacks, mentoring them into the future."
His age makes him a more affordable option for the Cowboys. A fourth-round pick may do the trick.
2016 BACKUP RATING: Strong. He can step in and immediately contribute.
FUTURE RATING: Poor. At his age, his days are numbered.
COST: Fourth-round pick.
LIKELINESS OF HAPPENING: Decent. If Cleveland doesn’t roll with him as their starter, they may want to get a draft pick out of him.
Nick Foles didn’t sign with Dallas, but that doesn’t mean he won’t play a part in the Cowboys quarterback decision. After adding Foles, there is a surplus of arms in Kansas City. Could the Chiefs see this as a good opportunity to get some value out of Aaron Murray?
While Murray hasn’t played a single down in the NFL, he’s had two years to develop. He has good mechanics and gets rid of the ball quickly. He has great work ethic, demonstrates strong leadership, and makes smart decisions with the football. Jason Garrett, are you hearing this?
It’s tough to figure out what the front office is looking for here, but if they want to stay young and want someone for an affordable price, Murray could be that guy.
2016 BACKUP RATING: Risky. Complete wildcard.
FUTURE RATING: Fair. Still has plenty of opportunities to show he belongs in the league.
COST: Cheap; late-round pick.
LIKELINESS OF HAPPENING: Long-shot, but he’s got traits the Cowboys look for and the price could be right.
Which quarterback do you think the Cowboys will go after?