When we all look back on the 2020 Dallas Cowboys season we will all point to the beginning of CeeDee Lamb’s Hall of Fame career, but that will be about it as far as good things are concerned.
This past year was a disaster for the Cowboys that was made more and more difficult on a weekly basis by the injury bug. Losing players is never an easy thing, some teams are better at it than others, but it becomes particularly difficult when the guys you are operating without play the most important position in the game - quarterback.
Dak Prescott was lost for the season during the team’s Week 5 victory over the New York Giants and shortly after Andy Dalton had to miss time thanks to a concussion. Altogether four different players started at quarterback for the Cowboys; it was a rough ride.
Ben DiNucci was graded as the worst quarterback of all 59 that started a game in 2020
NFL.com did a quarterback index to wrap up the season that ranked every quarterback who started a game in 2020. Obviously there are 32 teams but things happen and as a result more players than number of teams start at the game’s most visible spot.
If you are enduring turnover at the quarterback position you are not going to be in for a good time. Here is how the Cowboys quarterbacks ranked in the assessment:
16. Dak Prescott
Parr: Prescott was on pace to shatter the single-season passing yards record before a gruesome ankle injury robbed him of a chance to make history. The small sample size is probably the only thing keeping him from ending up higher on this list.
25. Andy Dalton
Bhanpuri: After a rough start to his fill-in role as the Cowboys’ QB1, which included expected growing pains and an unexpected battle with COVID-19, Andy Dalton helped steer the wayward Cowboys back into the NFC east race. Dallas went 4-3 from Weeks 11 to 17, when Dalton threw for the sixth most touchdowns (13) and the 11th most yards (1,718). He also posted the14th best passer rating (95.1) among the 30 QBs with at least 120 attempts during that span. Right back in the middle of the pack, where he belongs.
51. Garrett Gilbert
Blair: Gilbert’s decent effort against the Steelers in Week 9 (243 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 72.6 passer rating) might not have meant much for him in 2020, but it could set him up as the Cowboys’ second-string QB in 2021, presuming Andy Dalton heads for greener pastures.
59. Ben DiNucci
Parr: In fairness to DiNucci — a seventh-round pick out of James Madison — he should never have been put in position to play as a rookie, but he was (a Week 8 start against the Eagles with Andy Dalton sidelined) and here we are. He finished the season with the fewest yards per attempt of any QB (min. 40 passes). He lost two fumbles against Philly and couldn’t lead Dallas on a TD drive. No one deserves to be last, but someone had to be. Sorry, Ben.
You will note that Dak Prescott is still ahead of a lot of starters in the NFL at number 16 and Andy Dalton finished in front of a lot of guys that were expected to start for their teams all season (shout out to Carson Wentz). Given the way the seasons went for them, neither of these rankings are shocking.
Also not at all surprising is that Ben DiNucci was the worst quarterback to start a game throughout the 2020 season. The assessment notes that it was never fair to expect much from him so early on in his career that clearly needed developing. Garrett Gilbert (top 51, baby!) looked much better than him a week after DiNucci’s start having barely spent any time in the Cowboys offense. Sometimes the difference between veterans and rookies (specifically of the seventh-round variety) is that simple.
Hopefully DiNucci can get more opportunities (like a preseason) to help him come along in his NFL journey. His ceiling was never going to be high, but it was on full display for the whole world to see during his rookie season.