The first extended opportunity Andy Dalton received to see the field went fairly well. Coming in for the injured Dak Prescott, Dalton was able to lead the Cowboys to a fourth quarter comeback and game winning drive against the New York Giants. Unfortunately, that's the only positive thing that's happened for the veteran quarterback in 2020.
This week as the Cowboys prepare to face the Minnesota Vikings, it's time to have a short leash with Dalton as the starting quarterback. He hasn't shown anything aside from that final quarter against the Giants.
Against the Arizona Cardinals, Andy Dalton and the Dallas Cowboys laid an egg, never really finding a rhythm offensively. The defense held the Cardinals offense in check for the first quarter. However, Kyler Murray started hitting some big plays and the Cowboys couldn't ever respond. Dalton was 34 of 54 for 266 a touchdown, two interceptions, and took a safety.
The following week when facing the Washington Football Team it was more of the same. The Andy Dalton led offense couldn't do anything. Dalton was 9 of 19 for 75 yards and an interception. Then he was hit with a cheap shot to the head by Washington Linebacker Jon Bostic, forced into the concussion protocol, and at the same time spent time in the COVID-19 protocol as well.
It hasn't been a good season for Andy Dalton. And sure, you could talk about the struggles that he's had to deal with on the offensive line and the matchups the Cowboys faced, however, I don't know if that holds much water.
Dak Prescott dealt with a very similar offensive line for much of his season before being injured. Garrett Gilbert had to face one of the top two or three defenses in the NFL in the Pittsburgh Steelers and looked competent.
I get that the Cowboys think Andy Dalton is the best option they have at quarterback right now and you may agree. But that depends on your goals for the 2020 Dallas Cowboys.
If you're still riding with this team and hoping they'll make a push to the NFC East title and the playoffs, then having a veteran presence in the lineup like Andy Dalton. He has played a lot of snaps in the NFL and he potentially makes your team better than Gilbert. But if this week doesn't show marked improvement from Dalton and the Cowboys offense, then it's time to go back to Gilbert for better or worse.
The Cowboys could be looking to give Andy Dalton enough of a run this season that some team would want to make him their starter next season, which could net the Cowboys a compensatory pick. The reality is, Dalton hasn't shown enough to give the Cowboys much confidence that he's the best quarterback option for this team or that he's going to have any suitors next offseason.
The Garrett Gilbert led Dallas Cowboys offense was the best this team has looked since Dak Prescott went down with his injury. He may not have the experience or the success that Andy Dalton has had in his career, but it was pretty clear against a top defense that Gilbert has something and could be an asset long-term. If Sunday looks similar to Dalton's two previous starts, the Cowboys coaching staff needs to pull him and go with a player that gave the offense a spark against Pittsburgh.
This decision for the Cowboys coaching staff isn't an easy one. The NFC East is still within in their grasp and yet they haven't shown to be a team capable of stringing together quality performances. They should keep Dalton on a short leash this week and if necessary, feel comfortable about making a change.