Andy Dalton might not be the problem, but he isn’t the solution for the Cowboys either.
Dallas Cowboys fans will truly believe anything at this point. Tell them we can turn back time and watch them turn into Superman spinning around the world … Jerry’s world, that is.
With Dak Prescott out for the season, the attention turns to Andy Dalton in his first start at The Star Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Let’s give some credit to the 32-year-old former star of the Cincinnati Bengals, who pulled a victory out of the grasp of the winless New York Giants last week to give Dallas sole lead of the NFC East.
“I’ve been in a lot of different systems and kind of been through it all, so I like everything that we’re doing and my job is to keep this thing exactly how Dak had it,” Dalton told ESPN on Friday. “Dak was playing really well, and we don’t feel like we want there to be any drop-off since he’s not going to be in there.”
There’s a major drop-off when talking of the skill-sets between Prescott and Dalton. Prior to his gruesome injury, Prescott led the NFL in total passing yards (1,856) and passing yards per game (371.2), while ranking inside the top 10 in touchdowns (nine) and yards per pass (8.4). Dalton, meanwhile, might be the “Red Rifle,” but let’s not pretend his shot has missed the mark over his final three seasons with the Bengals.
While fans might believe that the Cowboys are good with Dalton, they’re wrong … but not for that reason. Dalton is serviceable when given an offensive line and quality weapons. In the Lone Star State, he has one of the two. The real problem isn’t even near the offense, but truly on the defensive side that knocks the Cowboys of the contenders column for 2020.
The Cowboys won’t contend with Andy Dalton, but he’s not the big problem
In Prescott’s place, Dalton did his due diligence against the gelatinous Giants defense. Throwing for 111 yards, including two to Michael Gallup to set up a game-winning field goal, the former Bengal channeled his game-manager mentality to keep the Cowboys’ season alive.
That works with a schedule in your favor and a serviceable defense — one of which the Cowboys won’t have moving forward.
Arizona’s new offense has become dangerous since plucking DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans and placing him in the desert with Kyler Murray. All the All-Pro has done is served as a security blanket from the second-year quarterback to make fans believe he’s the next Prescott or what Baker Mayfield was actually” supposed to be” for the Cleveland Browns. And if defensive woes still weren’t serving as an Achilles heel, the Cardinals could level up to Los Angeles or stand tall against Seattle in the divisional race for first place.
The good news for Dalton is following a showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers, things start looking up. Of the seven remaining teams excluding Arizona, they combine for a current 10-23-1 record, with only the Baltimore Ravens looking competent on offense.
On the flip side, Dallas’ defense is likely going to cause problems once again. Mike Nolan was supposed to expand, not diminish the potential of the boys in blue, but after five games, that’s a lost cause. Granted, one of their key players in Leighton Vander Esch is out, but how does that fix the excuse of Jaylon Smith and his open field tackling or Everson Griffen and his declining play?
The Cowboys have allowed the fourth-most yards through five games with 2,022 on the year. They also rank in the bottom five of yards allowed (404.4), total rushing yards (779), average rushing yards (155.8), and are dead-last in the turnover margin (-11).
Injuries continue to pile, depth is still a problem in the front seven and rookie talent might be promising, but the children need to learn the NFL is a whole new game from the collegiate level. Even when the team returns Chidobe Auwize, Sean Lee and Vander Esch, does that change the struggles in the trenches?
Believe in Dalton all you want. Even without Tyron Smith and La’El Collins, both of whom will miss the remainder of the season, the offense still can put up points in Kellen Moore’s system. However, the league giveth and the league taketh away in the form of inadequate defenses.
The term is defense wins championships. Strike this offseason up as another one where fans of “America’s Team” still pretend they’re living in 1995 and living on top of the three-peat world.