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Is Kellen Moore Or Josh McCown The Best Backup QB For The Cowboys

Dallas still needs a backup quarterback. Is the answer the current free agent they know, or a more experienced outsider?

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

While the Dallas Cowboys have checked off most of the needs in free agency so far, they still have one thing they must do that has not been addressed: Add a backup quarterback for Dak Prescott. One option is Kellen Moore, still available in free agency, but there are arguments for and against that idea. Tom Ryle and Michael Sisemore present the two sides.

The reasons why Dallas should re-sign Moore - Tom.

The Cowboys are returning most of their key players from last season, but not quite all. Dak Prescott is the only QB under contract (not counting Tony Romo, who continues to exist in a limbo of sort, but who we all know will be gone at some point). The team has to have a backup, clearly, even though the plan is always to not need the QB2. That may be a much more realistic hope with the young and resilient Prescott now the incumbent starter, but you still have to have someone ready to fill in at any time.

The problem with backup quarterbacks is, to put it in precise and technical terminology, they mostly suck. It is because backups QBs are what's left over after the league has already resorted in many cases to incapable starters to fill all 32 jobs. Look around the league. The Houston Texans tried to elevate a backup in Brock Osweiler, and we all know how that turned. out. Mike Glennon just got a contract potentially worth $15 million a year. Jimmy Garoppolo is seen as being worth multiple first round picks by some, based on seven successful quarters - yes, quarters, not games - under the best on-field head coach in the league, leading a roster that wound up winning the Super Bowl. His case is kind of special, because it is like no one remembers the history of one Matt Cassel, a former New England backup who, with Brandon Weeden, put the general low level of competency of backups on full display in Dallas in 2015.

This creates the dilemma for Dallas. They don't want to overpay for a position that is almost always overpaid. And the draft class this year looks rather weak at the QB position. Additionally, Jason Garrett much prefers to have a veteran backup on board rather than go with a pure rookie - which may seem contradictory given what happened with Prescott, but that was both a situation the Cowboys were forced into, and a testament to just how remarkable Prescott is.

But there is one possible answer for the Cowboys. That is to re-sign Kellen Moore, the player who lost his chance to sub for Tony Romo when he suffered a season-ending injury last year while training camp was still getting up to full speed.

Going into 2016, the plan appeared to be for Moore to backup Romo while Prescott was allowed to develop for a season, with an outside shot at supplanting Moore as the QB2. While that all went quickly out the window, it could well be a viable plan again. Moore is still unsigned as a free agent. It is well known that he is a favorite of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, which would hopefully be based on what the staff has seen from him in practice. Most importantly, he is fully up to speed on the Cowboys playbook and has familiarity with most of the offensive personnel. His market outside of Dallas is probably pretty limited, so the team should be able to sign him for something at the low end for backup QBs, who, as mentioned, are overpaid to begin with.

The only objection to him is that we really don't know if he is up to the job. But there are really only two kinds of backup passers in the NFL: Those we wonder about being able to handle things, and those who have given clear evidence that they can't. Anyone who has not yet proven he isn't totally incompetent usually has a choice of landing spots. The Cowboys brought in Josh McCown, but the fact he left without a deal indicates that he will probably wind up elsewhere. Many other quarterbacks who clearly are not up to the demands of the job are still on NFL payrolls, because there are just not any better options out there.

The Cowboys need a developmental quarterback to add to the mix, but this may not be a good year to find one. They HAVE to have a backup for Prescott. Right now, just because there are almost no viable, affordable alternatives, Kellen Moore may be the best option they have.

Kellen Moore Is A Great Football Mind But He’s Not An NFL Quarterback - Michael.

My colleague, Tom Ryle, made a pretty good point on the idea that bringing back Kellen Moore to backup Dak Prescott could be the best-laid plans for 2017. I respectfully disagree with that thought though he makes some solid and fair points. In fact, the Cowboys need to push hard for Josh McCown seeing as they have already met with the wily veteran.

We all know that the Tony Romo situation will iron itself out and that he’s not likely to remain on the roster for 2017. Josh McCown makes the most sense as an aging veteran quarterback that has seen it all and can offer the Cowboys the closest to perfect backup skill set they’re going to get. Forget that he’s started 60 career games and has gone 18-42 in that time. Win-loss record for a backup quarterback is not as important as the weapons around him when he’s asked to step in.

Look back at McCown’s career year in 2013, at the age of 34, he went in for the injured Jay Cutler and started five games. In those five starts, he amassed 1,829 yards, 13 touchdowns, and a 66.5 completion percentage with a quarterback rating of 109.0. That was a year when he had a decent Chicago offense around him complete with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, and Matt Forte. There was one game in that 2013 season that stood out like a sore thumb.

You remember the Monday Night Football game where they retired Mike Ditka’s jersey and stomped the Cowboys into the ground 45-28? McCown was sensational, completing 27 of 36 passes (75%) for 348 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions and a career-high 141.9 passer rating. For his career he’s passed for well over 14,000 yards, has thrown 79 touchdown passes, and has a 78.2 passer rating. That’s more of the guy you want behind Dak.

The problem with Kellen Moore is not personal, he’s just not an NFL quarterback but has been around people that have told him otherwise. Sure, he’s gritty and he’s an intelligent football mind but that doesn’t make you capable of physically performing the job should your number get called. There is a reason that he’s only started two games and has appeared in only three in now five seasons as a quarterback.

Scott Linehan and the Cowboys love his leadership abilities and the fieriness that he has to compete but again, he’s just not physically capable of being an NFL quarterback for any extended period of time. In his three games played, he had one game where he looked viable and it was with a 4-11 record and nothing to gain by the opponent. Not to mention the fact that the Redskins were ranked 28th in total defense in 2015 and 25th in passing defense, allowing opposing quarterbacks a 96.1 passer rating.

Despite having a 100.6 passer rating, 435 passing yards, three touchdowns, and a 68.8 completion percentage, Dallas still lost by double digits. In the two appearances before the final game, Moore had passer ratings of 48.6 and 52.2. His throws were errant, short, and he struggled to get his playmakers involved and run the offense.

Kellen Moore is a fine quarterback’s coach and certainly has the mind to understand and retain a wealth of football knowledge. However, if you need someone to step in and play for an extended period of time, the Cowboys are way better off kicking the tires on McCown and may even consider retaining Mark Sanchez with his relationship with Prescott. Moore may be the cheaper option and a great locker room guy but lacks the NFL arm strength and the physical attributes to perform the job.


There are the cases for and against Moore. What do you think?

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