There is no more crystal clear case study on how important a backup quarterback is to a professional football team than the 2020 Dallas Cowboys. Today’s NFL is a quarterback’s game, and if you are not properly equipped at the all-defining position, you are going to have a hard time competing week in and week out. While the starter is obviously of critical importance, who the team employs as their primary backup is also something that should be taken very seriously.
The 2020 Dallas Cowboys actually did equip themselves rather responsibly when it came to their top clipboard holder. Andy Dalton was hardly regarded as a quarterback in the league at this time last year, and there was no question that he was among the better backup quarterbacks on any team once Dallas signed him.
Generally speaking, backup quarterback has been something that the Cowboys haven’t paid much mind to save for last year. Given how important the franchise has learned it to be in recent memory (2015 was also a painful experience) they should pay it some more attention.
The Dallas Cowboys need to make sure that QB2 is a legitimate priority for them
A common theme throughout the offseason here at BTB has been that the Cowboys need to address the backup quarterback situation. To this point there has been no real improvement.
As it stands the Cowboys have Garrett Gilbert, Ben DiNucci, and Cooper Rush as options behind Dak Prescott. It is safe to say that none of them are what Andy Dalton was last season. This isn’t meant to imply that Dalton was incredibly successful for Dallas in 2020, but he was far better than what any of these options currently would be.
Nobody is trying to romanticize what Dalton was for America’s Team last year, but at the very least he was a backup quarterback who was able to win them some football games. Incidentally, he was the first backup to be able to do so since the quarterback he replaced in Dak Prescott.
Last Dallas Cowboys backup quarterbacks to win a game
- Andy Dalton, 2020
- Dak Prescott, 2016
- Matt Cassel, 2015
- Stephen McGee, 2010
- Jon Kitna, 2010
A handful of different backup quarterbacks have tried to win games for the Cowboys over the last decade and failed: Kyle Orton, Brandon Weeden, Kellen Moore, Garrett Gilbert, Ben DiNucci. Obviously it is far from easy to have a highly-qualified quarterback as your reserve as they are the most sought-after commodity in the league, but the position should be treated as more than some secondary sort of thing.
It is in this respect that Andy Dalton was actually an improvement last year. Consider that the Cowboys trotted out Cooper Rush as their backup quarterback for three full years. Remember that Rush, who is still a part of the team in our present moment, went undrafted and never saw more than preseason action. The Cowboys were an awful moment away from handing the reigns of hope over to him. That was irresponsible.
Garrett Gilbert, the favorite to be this year’s top backup, is more qualified than Rush has ever been and is a massive step forward in that regard. Gilbert was a fine quarterback in his lone start last season and could have maybe gotten better if he had seen more opportunities. But the point remains that the Cowboys ought to consider pursuing another option that is currently not on their roster before it is too late.
We discussed this whole idea in the latest video on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel. We will be continuing to break down each position as training camp draws closer in other videos so make sure to subscribe (which you can do so right here) so that you don’t miss out on any of them!