Andy Dalton was once a big star in the Metroplex. He’s got a chance to be a big star again. In fact, he’s got a chance to save the Dallas Cowboys’ season, and earn himself up to $4 million in incentive bonuses. All of this attainable, because of how bad the NFC East has turned out to be.
Dalton, the former TCU quarterback, will lead the ‘Pokes into the Monday night game against the Arizona Cardinals, as the post-Dak Prescott era begins.
ARIZONA CARDINALS at DALLAS COWBOYS, 8:15 PM ET
BetAnySports NFL Line: Pick’em, Total 55
Prescott, as you are undoubtedly aware, suffered an ankle injury that has been described as “gruesome” against the Giants last week, and it is going to be at least four to six months of recuperation before he can even think about playing. Of course, that takes him into free agency, and despite anything Jerry Jones might say, Dak will be in a position of considerably-reduced leverage if he wants to negotiate with the Cowboys.
Coach Mike McCarthy says he is “so fortunate and blessed” to have Dalton, and that might not be far from the truth. Dallas is in a much better situation than they have been in the recent past when it came to having to replace an injured Prescott or Tony Romo. For example, at one point they had to go with Kellen Moore, and to give you an indication as to how well he worked out as a player, he is now a coach – in fact, he’s the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator.
And if you want to go by the numbers, he’s doing a heck of a job. The Cowboys came into the week leading the league in yards per game, and they were averaging 32.6 ppg. Prescott came into Week 6 tops in the NFL with 1856 passing yards.
Dalton told reporters, “We don’t see things changing much. I feel like we can just run this offense.” But maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea if things DID change a little. Look – Prescott had 974 yards over a two-game period, and that set an NFL record, but the team did not win either game. Some of that can be attributed to lousy defense, for sure. But the Cowboys got away from something that became a strength for them.
It would seem almost criminal that you would have a running back like Ezekiel Elliott and not use him. Yet if you look at the numbers coming into this week’s slate of games, Dallas was 31st out of 32 NFL teams in terms of run play percentage, keeping it on the ground only 33.8% of the time. That’s the kind of thing a team that has nobody at the position would do. Heck, even Arizona, a team centered around the Air Raid offense, runs more than they do.
By rights, they should be running it with Elliott or somebody else at least 45% of the time and maybe more. But we’re not sure they are going to do that, because of a big dilemma. This time it’s a spate of injuries that have torn apart an offensive line that currently ranks third in the NFL in Adjusted Line Yards.
The Cowboys are going to be without both offensive tackles – Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, not too mention center Joe Looney, and you just don’t replace parts like that easily. Yes, they do get a little relief with the fact that the Cardinals have to play without star pass rusher Chandler Jones.
But keep in mind the kind of reputation Dalton has; that is, a passer who is not going to scramble out of trouble all that easily or all that often, and as a result, gets sacked a lot. Even with all of his experience, he is generally not the kind of guy you want back there when you’re playing with second-team tackles protecting him. Prescott was a vastly different story, as his mobility allowed him to buy time and make plays.
If the Cowboys have to engage in a shootout, they are not going to be fully loaded. And even though this is a pick’em game, it is worth mentioning that they haven’t covered this season in five tries, as they have not met expectations. This is a game where we would rather have the progressing Kyler Murray, the imaginative Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech grad) and the Arizona offense, which is #1 in the NFL in the red zone (the “Red ‘Zona,” if you will), with 6.19 points per trip. CARDINALS
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