Look just about anywhere in the sports world, and you'll find someone that has a take on Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys quarterback situation. For what seems like forever now, people have been continuously weighing on who should be the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback.
It all started when Tony Romo was deemed healthy, and the debate ensued as to who should start between him and Dak Prescott. Four years into his career and two playoff appearances later, and people are still trying to replace Dak Prescott because of perceived contractual value.
The latest to speak on the subject of the Dallas Cowboys quarterback situation is none other than the school newspaper from Ben DiNucci's alma mater, The Breeze at James Madison University. The title's a bit misleading, but they ran with it anyway.
In the piece, Andrew Oliveras argues that if Dak Prescott doesn't play for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020 due to contractual issues, Ben DiNucci should be the Cowboys quarterback. It's an interesting idea and very well written. Make sure to go check it out.
Let's take on this piece point by point.
What about Dak Prescott?
“Dallas has a “franchise” quarterback in Dak Prescott, though as of today he hasn't signed a franchise tag contract, and the deadline for him to sign is July 15. He hasn't been participating in the virtual offseason and is asking for big money that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones might not bite at. Prescott already has declined a contract of $145 million for five years. He wants high guaranteed money, and he wants it now.”
Andrew Oliveras – The Breeze
Everything he says here is accurate. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find a person that covers the Dallas Cowboys, in the front office, or Dak Prescott himself that isn't confident that a deal will get finalized before the July 15th franchise tag deadline. The sticking point has been the years. But it will get done.
Yes, the fact is that Dak Prescott doesn't have a contract right now. The reality remains the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott have a month to come to an agreement. As we know with the Jones', deadlines make deals, and there's plenty of time to reach an agreement before the tag deadline.
Andy Dalton Doesn't Bring that Winning Spark
“Many say that if Prescott doesn't play, the job will go to recently acquired veteran quarterback Andy Dalton. However, DiNucci brings aspects to the game that Dalton can't.”
Dalton brings veteran leadership, but he won't bring that winning spark. Dalton led the Cincinnati Bengals to a 2-11 record in 2019 and threw 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 13 games.”
Andrew Oliveras – The Breeze
First of all, QB Wins is not a stat.
Yes, the Bengals have been bad for the last four seasons, but before 2016, they won 10 or more games four seasons in a row with Dalton at quarterback. Let's not kid ourselves; it's not like Andy Dalton had a whole lot around him to stay competitive while battling injuries himself.
Secondly, in the event of a Dak Prescott holdout or an injury to their starting quarterback, the Dallas Cowboys aren't going to entrust their chance at contending for a playoff spot over to a seventh-round draft pick from an FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) school.
And that brings us to another point.
What about Carson Wentz and Jimmy Garapolo?
“Some might say DiNucci played against easy schools being in the FCS. However, the FCS is no joke as it's produced many NFL players to date, such as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.”
Let's just say to NFL front offices, draft status matters.
Sure Carson Wentz, Jimmy Garapolo, and Ben DiNucci all played in the FCS and had a ton of success. The difference is that DiNucci was a seventh-round pick while Wentz was taken in the first round, and Garapolo was taken in the second.
As good as DiNucci might be, it's not as if he's some sort of sleeper pick by the Cowboys. The rest of the NFL had tape on this guy and didn't believe he was worthy of selecting in the first six rounds of the draft.
If he were ready to step in and play an NFL game in 2020, he DiNucci would have been drafted much higher. Now, front offices make mistakes, but in a league so desperate for quarterbacks that the Philadelphia Eagles would draft their backup in the second round, if he were ready to play in the NFL, some team would have taken a shot on him before the seventh round.
Is Ben DiNucci another Tony Romo?
In the piece, Oliveras references a quote from Dallas Cowboys COO Stephen Jones that loosely compares Tony Romo and Ben DiNucci.
There's no way that anyone can even know that.
But here's the thing that we often forget to mention when we talk about Tony Romo. He didn't play for two seasons after being signed as an undrafted free agent. Romo didn't come in until the seventh game of the season in 2006 after sitting on the bench behind veteran options during Bill Parcells' tenure with the Dallas Cowboys. Romo sat on the bench and learned from Sean Payton before getting his opportunity in 2006.
Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe were both at the end of their careers when they started for the Dallas Cowboys, and yet it took Tony Romo nearly two and a half seasons to get his first playing time in the NFL and take the starting job.
If Tony Romo, a UDFA, couldn't take the job from veterans on their last legs, there's very little reason to believe that DiNucci could come in and take the job from Andy Dalton if Dak Prescott was unavailable to play.
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Oliveras summarizes his thesis with this.
“Dalton might win the job because he'll be able to adapt faster than DiNucci, coming in as an inexperienced NFL quarterback. If Prescott doesn't play and Dalton “stinks it up” on the field, the job will be DiNucci's.”
It's certainly possible that Ben DiNucci is a quarterback that can stick around in the NFL. Late round picks like Tom Brady found a way to be successful. The reality is that the hit rate for quarterbacks taken after the first is very low. Get into the later rounds of the draft, and it becomes even smaller.
It would take incredibly bad play from Andy Dalton for Mike McCarthy to turn the keys to the offense over to Ben DiNucci as a rookie.
DiNucci lands in a unique situation, though. He'll be able to sit under Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton, learn from Mike McCarthy, Kellen Moore, and Doug Nussmeier, and could potentially run the scout team offense. Every rep in the NFL is invaluable, and if he finds a way of sticking on the Cowboys roster, either the 53-man roster or the practice squad, he'll have a great shot at sticking in the NFL.
Year one for Ben DiNucci is an opportunity for the Dallas Cowboys to find out whether or not he can be Dak Prescott's backup after Andy Dalton's one-year contract expires.