The wrath of the Red Rifle is no more in the Big D.
The Cowboys were left with a gaping vacancy at the quarterback position when news broke of Andy Dalton’s departure from Dallas and his subsequent signing with Chicago in a deal that could land the former Bengals’ gunslinger up to $13 million in cumulative incentives.
The new partnership brings the end of what was a strenuous topsy-turvy adventure with Dalton at the helm of a severely depleted Cowboys’ offense. The team’s QB1 was QB-none. Its offensive line had been utterly ransacked by injuries, and Ezekiel Elliott just couldn’t seem to retain consistent possession of his once-oft pigskin carrying opportunities.
It was a complete charade of sorts.
Yet somehow, someway, the ‘Boys managed to claw themselves into the postseason conversation (albeit in an absolutely horrid football display put on by the NFC East), which was an advent that rested in large part on the shoulders of Andy Dalton.
Sure, Garrett Gilbert almost managed to squeak his team past Pittsburgh in Week 9. Ben DiNucci showed scarce flashes of competence in his lone start vs. Philly. But when Dallas was actually able to muster victories in Dak Prescott’s absence, it was Andy Dalton who established himself as a key driving force.
Take his three touchdown day against Minnesota in the ‘Boys first win following #4’s gruesome injury. Or a masterful showcase of veteran prowess vs. Baltimore that resulted in 285 yards through the air with a scoring dump to boot. And most fans have a vivid picture of a locked-and-loaded Dalton firing off killshot after deathblow en route to 377 airmail yards, three TDs and a 134.7 QB rating vs. Philly.
It’s not often that a backup QB is able to salvage the pieces of a near broken locker room, and kickstart an offense back into lifelike fruition in a matter of weeks. But Dalton’s moxie and savvy proved to withstand the worst of misfortunes that plagued Dallas in 2020. His absence will rear itself to be conspicuous.
That is unless the Cowboys can secure the services of another capable playmaker ready to step into the spotlight should catastrophe (knock on wood) befall on the team once more. And with the locomotive free agent train in full combustion, viable suitors are ripe for plucking.
There are a few who could catch the eyes of Mr. Beholding Jones: Mitch Trubisky, AJ McCarron, Robert Griffin III.
Then there’s the draft, which looms in April. It may be doubtful the team would turn to an untested rookie as the permanent backup for 2021.
Or, the team can decide to neglect supposed greener pastures and save dollars with a little home cookin’ (which isn't an unlikely proposition considering its most recent long-term investment).
So, what do you think Dallas should do about their backup dilemma?