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Cowboys Backup QB Battle: Kellen Moore Vs. Luke McCown

Brian Martin

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Kellen Moore Vs. Luke McCown: Cowboys Backup QB Position Battle

I don't know about a lot of you, but I feel little bit relieved that Luke McCown is now in the mix to become the Dallas Cowboys backup QB in 2017. He will get the chance to push and compete against Kellen Moore to prove his worth, which has a lot of Cowboys Nation looking forward to see how the Cowboys backup QB situation shakes out.

There is certainly no shortage of position battles to pay attention to throughout the remainder of training camp and preseason, but the Cowboys backup QB position should definitely be at the top of the list. Backup QBs play an important role that a lot of us don't fully understand. They not only have to be ready at the drop of a hat, but they are also mentors, especially for young players such as Dak Prescott.

Both Kellen Moore and Luke McCown are capable enough to become the Cowboys backup QB this season, but for different reasons. Let's dive into that a little deeper and try to figure out who might be the best backup for the upcoming season.

Kellen MooreKellen Moore has been the de facto backup QB since Tony Romo's retirement. But, to bring in a veteran QB like Luke McCown cast a little bit of doubt from the Cowboys regarding Moore's standing with the team. Everything should and probably will be reevaluated from this time on.

Kellen Moore has the trust of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and the experience in his system, which probably gives him an advantage over McCown. But unfortunately he doesn't have a lot of game experience. The lack of game experience is concerning, but no more so then the fact that he is possibly just one hit away from an injury because of his size.

Both he and Tony Romo contributed to helping out Dak Prescott through his rookie season, which means there's already an established working relationship. That would also indicate that #17 has an advantage to become the Cowboys backup QB. But, don't count out a savvy veteran backup like Luke McCown.

McCown didn't decide to sign with the Cowboys to become a "camp arm" to help them through training camp and preseason. He came here with the mindset that he can become the Cowboys backup QB this season and unseat the previously unchallenged Kellen Moore.

At 36, McCown certainly isn't a spring chicken anymore. But, he has been able to survive over a decade in the NFL as a backup QB. In that time his has been able to soak up a lot of knowledge and game experience. He knows what it takes to be a backup QB in the NFL and how to help mentor younger players.

McCown's veteran experience is an enticing quality that might be too much to pass up. This is especially true when you consider that head coach Jason Garrett usually gravitates towards these types of players when it comes to the backup QB position. But, he is going to have his work cut out for him if he wants to beat out Kellen Moore.

I personally like Luke McCown's experience, but I can see why a lot of people like Kellen Moore too. There is no way of knowing right now how this will turn out, which makes it a position battle worth following.

Who will be the Cowboys backup QB in 2017?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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6 Comments
  • George_Johnson

    Brian: I think McCown is likely to just be a camp arm in 2017 for the following reasons: 1) K Moore is designated to get the 2nd team reps and 2nd team playing time in preseason games. He is ready and knows the offense/playbook intimately. McCown will get the 3rd or 4th team reps and 3rd or 4th team playing time in preseason games. 2) McCown will have to go through a learning curve concerning the Dallas offense/playbook/game plans/knowing Linehan/etc. that will take some time. He probably won’t be ready to be considered for 2nd team until some time during the season, 3) the speculation is that Dallas will probably only keep two QBs on the 53 man roster which will mean McCown is cut after the preseason. If they keep three QBs than McCown may get a chance at 2nd team but probably in 2018 not 2017. How would K Moore lose his 2nd team position sitting on the bench during the season?, 4) I expect K Moore to do well in preseason play. He should be very ready at this point and this is his only time to prove what he can do. McCown could do well also but it will be at 3rd or 4th team. K Moore will really have to start screwing up big time, which isn’t likely for any other QB to get a shot at 2nd team QB.

    In terms of K Moore not being a veteran, that is not what S Linehan has said. He said K Moore even though he has not played much, is like having a veteran because of all his knowledge and ability to know exactly what to do without a lot of reps. In terms of experience K Moore has a lot of total experience for someone who has only played in three NFL season games, because of studying, practicing and playing QB since he could walk, because he was in a constant football environment growing up. This probably has something to do with his ability to play instinctively.

  • johnathan

    Do you have that concern about the “lack of game experience” when Dak was starting?

    • Brian Martin

      Yes, I did. But, at the same time the Cowboys didn’t really have another option and we were all waiting to see Tony Romo was going to come back and be reinserted as a starter.

      • OGHailMary

        Yeah, you can’t really throw in Dak as an example of anything. He broke up all kinds of conventional wisdom.

  • Ned Fiacco

    I respect any player’s desire to think and act competitively, but I don’t see McCown being looked to/ at in any way to supplant K. Moore. Maybe more like and insurance policy? If Moore were to do just awful in preseason, then sure, there would be some justified noise. But do I see that happening? No. Moore kept getting better in 2015, knows the playbook, the players and has a working “rhythm” with the offense. He is described as very accurate (yes, he made mistakes in 2015) and his timing is amazing (i.e. yesterday’s “play of the day” with Brown). Even Mr. Broaddus, who isn’t a big Moore fan, talks about his “perfect timing” and “sweet throw to so and so” as he recaps the practices. Moore has been described as a guy who is cool under pressure -preseason is not going to stumble him Indeed, it is not a reach at all to say this preseason will see him play remarkably well. Again, I respect every guy who actually gets in the arena and risks it all, so good luck to McCown being at and doing his best. However, I believe this preseason sees Moore silencing his critics-the sane ones at least, big time.

    • Brian Martin

      I’m hoping Kellen Moore comes out and performs really well. But, at the same time I don’t think it hurts that the Cowboys now have another option to back up Prescott. Luke McCown wouldn’t have come here if he didn’t think he was getting an honest shot to compete.

Dallas Cowboys

How Cowboys Could Benefit From Randy Gregory’s Suspension

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Randy Gregory Withdraws Suspension Appeal, Cannot Return Until Week 15

Randy Gregory is back! His suspension is officially over and he will be able to join the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California when training camp gets underway less than a week from now.

Speculation has already started as to what this could mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, and shockingly expectations are rather high for a player who hasn't stepped foot on the field in over a year. But, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to focus on Gregory's mess of a contract, because it is rather interesting.

Randy Gregory was signed to a four-year contract after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory's rookie deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, but his multiple suspensions have now changed that expiration date.

You see, Gregory has only played in a total of 14 games in his career, 12 as a rookie and two in Year 2. His third year in the NFL was completely wiped out due to his year-long suspension. If you were to add that all up, it equates to just one accured season in the NFL. Remember that, because it could have a huge impact on his contract down the road.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

What all of this means is that the Cowboys can pretty much stretch out Gregory's contract now that they are three years in on the deal and have only gotten one accured season out of the agreement. That basically means they can push his contract back a year, meaning his 2017 salary ($731,813) gets pushed back to 2018, his 2018 salary ($955,217) gets pushed to 2019. That would essentially make him a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) in 2020.

Or does it?

Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys handled paying Randy Gregory during his suspension could actually make him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA). This is a similar situation in which David Irving found himself in after the 2017 season. The Cowboys placed a second-round tender on him in order to secure his services for another season, albeit at a $2.91 million price tag.

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much hold all the cards when it comes to Randy Gregory's contract situation. It's all a little confusing, but that's what makes it such a unique and interesting situation.

Of course, the Cowboys could decide to extend Gregory early if he completely dominates upon his return this season. It's highly doubtful though considering his past suspensions, but still technically a possibility. If it does happen, you can go ahead and ignore everything I've written previously.



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Dallas Cowboys

Earl Thomas: Age is Just a Number Part II

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de Earl Thomas, la NFL Sigue Equivocándose
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Yesterday, I wrote a piece attempting to assuage the fears that many in Cowboys Nation have about handing a contract extension out to Earl Thomas, who is 29 years old as we enter the 2018 NFL season.

In the comment section, a reader posed a very good question that is the basis for the rest of this article:

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond

It's a great question that certainly required some research, but Cowboys fans all across the world should be encouraged by my findings.

Just to refresh, here are the players we looked at as favorable comparisons to Earl Thomas at this point in his career. I searched Pro Football Reference for safeties who had at least three All-Pro First Team selections and at least six Pro Bowl appearances.

Considering an Earl Thomas Extension, Age is just a Number

The average age of the players listed at the time when they reached their third All-Pro was 31 years old. I'm removing Deion Sanders and Roger Wehrli from the equation as most of their work was done at cornerback.

Let's look at a chart that outlines what these guys careers looked like at age 29 and beyond to get a better picture. Remember, Earl Thomas already has three All-Pro selections and six Pro Bowls. Many of these guys didn't reach those kind of accolades until their 30s.

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond 1

Click image to view at full size.

The first thing I noticed as I looked into this question is that only two players had three or more All-Pro First Team selections prior to age 29, like Earl Thomas has. Those players were Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott. Every other player on this list didn't hit their third All-Pro selection until age 29 or later.

Only one player reached his sixth Pro Bowl prior to his age 29 season, that player is Ronnie Lott, who many NFL Analysts consider to be the greatest safety of all-time. Most of the players didn't achieve their third All-Pro selection until their age 29 season or later. Earl Thomas reached his third All-Pro selection at age 25.

Here's a hot take for you: Earl Thomas, when it's all said and done could be considered the greatest safety of all-time.  I'll just leave that there to marinate and if a trade does happen, we'll come back to that.

Back to the chart.

Another thing I want to point out is that none of these players were 100% healthy. Such is the life in the NFL, especially as you get older, but they were available for at least 14 games a majority of their seasons aged 29 or later. Health is an unpredictable animal in the NFL, but the safety position allows for much more longevity than many other positions. And as the chart depicts, it's a position that ages well.

So, as you can see in the chart, players who were highly productive prior to their age 29 season were also highly productive for several seasons after. These players went onto average almost seven more years in the league from their age 29 seasons.

Most players continued to average a healthy amount of interceptions. The player that saw the biggest decline from the early part of his career to the post-29 part of his career was Brian Dawkins. The former Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos safety went from three interceptions per season prior to 29 to 1.9 interceptions per season 29 and after.

When it comes to the safety position, the elite seem to be able to get the most of their bodies and their abilities and can prolong their prime. The position relies as much on intelligence and awareness as it does quickness and athleticism. Earl Thomas has the mental capacity to play the game for many more years and there's been zero evidence to suggest that he is experiencing any physical decline.

At the rate of his career that he's on, Earl Thomas is destined for the Hall of Fame. He's one of the faces of the Legion of Boom defense that propelled the Seattle Seahawks into the elite category of teams in the early part of this decade.

If and when an Earl Thomas trade does occur, don't sweat an extension for Thomas.

Thomas' credentials put him in an elite group of players who played the game for a very long time and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to do so.

The Dallas Cowboys aren't that far off from having a Super Bowl contending defense built in the image of the Seattle Seahawks. Going to get the All-Pro, future Hall of Fame safety is the final piece to the to the Dallas Cowboys completing construction on "Doomsday III." 

Everything else is there for the Dallas Cowboys, now all they have to do is: Go. Get. Earl!



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Dallas Cowboys

Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN

John Williams

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A Fully Focused Ezekiel Elliott can Carry the Cowboys into 2018 Playoffs 2
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN has long been considered "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," and for a long time that title was justified. If you wanted your national sports news, where did you turn to but the cable sports channel to watch that day's episode of SportsCenter. But over the last few years, it's become more and more clear that it's "The Worldwide Leader" in name only.

The ratings are dropping and the network has had to make a lot of business decisions as it relates to much of their on-air talent over the last several years. With their latest under 25 starting 22 -- ahem, troll job -- they seem to have finally come to terms that they are basically First Take.

Noah Brown put it best in his reaction to the ESPN "Insider" voting that led to Saquon Barkley being named to the starting 22 ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Brown, Elliott's teammate when both were at Ohio State University, came to his defense upon seeing the list.

Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPNAnd here is the ESPN list:

SportsCenter on Twitter

43 of our NFL Insiders voted. Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25.

I'm sure there could be debates about different positions on the squad. Personally, quarterback is one where an argument could be made for Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott over DeShaun Watson, but that's for another time.

But to have a rookie, who has never played a down in the NFL ahead of the NFL's league leader in rushing for 2016, Ezekiel Elliott, is laughable.

Ridiculous.

Shameful even.

The fact that they had 43, again I use the quotations, "Insiders" vote on this and Ezekiel Elliott wasn't listed as one of the two running backs just shows you how far they've come as a network.

Let's remember that Ezekiel Elliott has averaged a touchdown a game -- receiving and rushing -- in his 25-game career. No running back has more rushing yards than Elliott does over the last two years, including 2017 league rushing leader, Kareem Hunt. No running back has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott's 22 rushing TDs.

Ezekiel Elliott's yards per carry is a healthy 4.63. Todd Gurley sits at 3.93. No player with more than 1,800 rushing yards over the last two years has a better yards per attempt than Ezekiel Elliott.

I get that you'd vote Todd Gurley in there, but to not have Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the game's best running back on your Under 25 starting 22 just makes you look like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. Not a sports journalism entity worthy of people throwing money at for "Insider" access.

I won't say that I never or will never watch ESPN, because where else am I gonna go for Monday Night Football, Todd Archer, or the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships? When I'm at my father-in-law's, I'll watch SportsCenter first thing in the morning, because it will be on and you don't change another man's television.

"The Worldwide Leader," however, loses credibility when they promote a list like this that has such a glaring omission.

Perhaps, maybe the goal wasn't to put out an accurate list. Maybe the goal was to get us talking about their list, just like when NFL Network releases their Top 100 players list. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

This troll job from ESPN has certainly gotten them some publicity, or should I say, notoriety.



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