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Is The Dallas Cowboys Backup QB Situation A Concern?

Brian Martin

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Kellen Moore

Isn’t it funny how much things can change in just a years time span. Last year at this time we were discussing who the Dallas Cowboys backup QB would be for Tony Romo? Now, it’s Dak Prescott‘s show, but the question still remains. So, who will backup Prescott in 2017 and is it a concern for the Cowboys?

The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone and as we now know the Dallas Cowboys drafted nine players, but not one of them was at the quarterback position. It wasn’t a complete surprise considering this year’s talent at the QB position, but the Cowboys could use a developmental prospect to groom behind Prescott.

Now, before any of you get your panties in a wad, I have nothing against Kellen Moore. In fact, I think he is a serviceable backup QB, but not someone you want under center for an extended period of time if something were to happen to Prescott.

Moore knows offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s scheme and understands his strength and weaknesses as a player. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but his ability to quickly read defenses and get rid of the ball are both reasons why he has been able to stick around in the NFL.

Kellen MooreI’m starting to believe that the Cowboys just carry two QBs on the roster and Kellen Moore is the hands-down favorite to backup Dak Prescott in 2017. So, the Cowboys backup QB could already be set, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s still not a concern.

My biggest concern is whether or not Kellen Moore can remain healthy if he is thrust into action. He is not the biggest QB in the league (6’0″, 200) and one good hit could have him on the sideline once again wearing a headset and holding a clipboard. I mean, he didn’t even make it out of training camp last year.

As things stand right now, there really isn’t anybody to even compete with him once off-season practices get underway. The Cowboys did sign two undrafted free agent QBs, but I don’t think either Cooper Rush or Austin Appleby are legitimate competition. At best, they are probably practice squad material.

Of course, there is the possibility that I’m just reading too much into this. But, if this wasn’t at least a little bit of a concern for the Cowboys, then they wouldn’t have tried to bring in Josh McCown.

Only time will tell if the Cowboys backup QB situation is an actual concern or not, but fortunately they still have plenty of time to figure it out. And, there is always the possibility they have Tony Romo on speed dial if worst comes to worst.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys backup QB situation is a concern?

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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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16 Comments
  • Erie Adams

    it did cause concern before the draft for me. that is until we signed UDFA Cooper Rush Who I thought before the draft would be a huge sleeper this year

    • Brian Martin

      I like Rush, but I think he’s a year or two away before he can be a reliable backup QB in the NFL.

  • Johnman

    Kellen Moore is going to be just fine You Doubters……. Jerry believes in him… The kid has been under estimated many times before. He has that special knack and is a perfect back-up to Dak……

    • Brian Martin

      I think Kellen Moore is serviceable, but the fact the Cowboys tried to bring in Josh McCown would indicate they’re not completely satisfied with the current roster.

  • Russ_Te

    Maybe Romo has a sabbatical clause in his deal with CBS…

    Moore is lucky if he is 5′ 10″. It’s his only problem. Very smart, fast reads and playmaker moxy.

    His camp will tell a lot, and he’ll play a lot. I’m sure they will look for a veteran who’s released in the summer, but that is probably as a 3rd QB not 2nd, unless Moore looks ineffective in camp.

    Winning teams are supposed to have a proven veteran, especially in a playoffs spot ala Bernie Kosar / 1993 season. They will have a decision to make of whether to carry only 2 QB’s, or make room if the right veteran becomes available.

    2 things make it a little less of a concern IMO: Dak is young and a thick-bodied QB, and Moore actually is a veteran in the league.

    Ideal: The Cowboys get way ahead and Moore gets reps with games already decided.

    • Brian Martin

      Russ, I can’t argue with anything you said. I think they’re going to go with Kellen Moore unless he starts to struggle in training camp.

  • George_Johnson

    Brian Martin: As you know I know a lot about K Moore as I have followed him his whole career from high school until now. In terms of getting injured he has been relative injury free his whole career. I think it has something to do with his not being a runner, knowing where to move in the pocket and outside the pocket, knowing how to fall away when being sacked and having a quick release. His breaking his leg last year seems to be a complete fluke. It was at practice where the QBs are not to be touched. Also it might have been a coaching mistake as an offensive lineman was pushed into K Moore and stepped on his leg. Why?
    Since no one is going to listen to me, I would only point to Scott Linehan. S Linehan should be one of the top QB experts in the world or maybe the top expert. S Linehan has said, “K MOORE CAN PLAY IN THE NFL”. He says is arm is strong enough to play. He also said he compensates or overcomes his weaknesses with his outstanding pocket passing abilities/skills. S Linehan has worked with K Moore for going on four years, and should know him well at this point. His confidence in K Moore tells you all you need to know. As K Moore gets more experience and reps he will likely just get better as he is a student of being a QB and coach. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if K Moore outplayed D Prescott in preseason games.

    • Brian Martin

      George, your defense of Kellen Moore is admirable, but he has likely reached his peak as a QB. He will never be anything more than a backup and if not for Linehan’s devotion to him, likely wouldn’t still be in the NFL. Due to his size, he will always be a risk to injury. I don’t care if it’s in practice or a game. If thrust into action, every big hit he takes will have everybody holding their breath.

      And as to the question about why his injury was allowed to happen? It was practice and he was in there receiving his normal amount of reputations. That’s just how things fell and unfortunately he ended up on the wrong end of the stick.

      I personally don’t have a problem with Kellen Moore as a QB2 right now, but that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned. I would like to see somebody brought in to compete with him instead of handing him the job. Competition makes everybody better and Kellen Moore is no exception to the rule.

      • George_Johnson

        Brian: I tend to think competition is always good. However, what I have learned is that competition for 1st or 2nd team QB is difficult or limited. The coaches would prefer to pick one QB as the number two and another as the number three until their play dictates otherwise. The problem seems to be there are only so many reps and so many preseason games to go around so it is hard to have two QBs competing for the reps with the second team and first team that would normal go to the # 2 designated QB. In K Moore’s case this is even more true as he has limited experience with the 1st and 2nd teams for Detroit or Dallas, so they need to get him ready to play because if something happened to D Prescott, K Moore would be starting. It looks like Dallas’s plan this year is for the two undrafted QBs to compete for the 3rd team QB and K Moore to be designated 2nd team sort of like what was going to happen last year with K Moore until he got hurt. This could change if K Moore doesn’t look very good which I doubt will happen.

        • Brian Martin

          George, everything you say is true. Kellen Moore’s experience in the Cowboys offensive scheme is the reason he will likely be the QB2 in 2017. I’m okay with that, but if the Cowboys do decide to carry just two QBs on the active roster, it creates somewhat of an unknown situation. Usually when they just carry two QBs, the backup is someone that has been a proven vet with game experience. Moore doesn’t have a lot of game experience under his belt so far. He still is somewhat of an unknown. That’s really my biggest issue along with the fact that I think he susceptible to injuries due to his size.

    • Russ_Te

      I see Moore’s arm strength as slightly less than a Romo or Montana. They both rolled up big numbers without a big arm.

      It can become a problem in a game you are behind and must throw, and the safeties choke up and work the box more because they do not fear the ball deep.

      However if Moore were to be in with Dak injured, most of the time he will have good run support. That will allow him to pick apart defenses who have to honor run 1st.

      • Brian Martin

        The Cowboys having such a dominant running game might be why they haven’t brought anybody in to compete with Kellen Moore. This will be a situation I will be following closely, but if the Cowboys bring in another vet QB, that could tell all we need to know.

        • George_Johnson

          The Cowboys are not likely to bring in a vet QB unless K Moore really screws up in preseason practices/games. This is not likely to happen as K Moore has played his best NFL football in preseason games. K Moore was nicknamed “Mr August” in Detroit because of his outstanding play. He is consistent, smart, accurate, poised, and finds the open receiver, therefore there is little reason for him not to perform well unless he is being constantly pressured and can’t get to his reads or is running for his life. The only time he didn’t look like a top QB in Detroit was when he was being pressured and had to get rid of the ball very quickly and did not have time for any reads.

          • Brian Martin

            George, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the cow was brought in a vet QB. I know they like Kellen Moore, the Cowboys have always had more experienced QBs as their backup under head coach Jason Garrett. Moore has been able to stick around in the NFL, but he doesn’t have a lot of game experience under his belt. Preseason games going against roster bubble guys is a lot different than going up against the starting units. I think someone like Shaun Hill makes sense because of his past experience with Linehan. Moore would still likely be the backup, but would be pushed by someone with experience in the system. But, if he doesn’t perform well the Cowboys would have their backup plan in place with Hill.

      • George_Johnson

        I think it is a mistake if a defense thinks they can take advantage of K Moore not having a strong arm by cheating up. He is a smart QB, with good vision down field and can throw the ball pretty accurately and a long ways down field. He just has to put more air under the ball than someone with a real strong arm but if the receiver can out run the defender, the defense is likely to get burned. If you have to throw a rocket pass across the field or down the field to make the completion, then K Moore cannot do that and wouldn’t try as he knows his limitations. You need a Mathew Stafford type arm to make that kind of throw.

        • Brian Martin

          I do like the fact that Kellen Moore knows his limitations as a QB.

Star Blog

Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Brian Martin

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Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Each offseason tough decisions have to be made by teams around the NFL, and the Dallas Cowboys are no exception. Teams have to decide who to promote, who to demote, and who to cut ties with altogether. For the Cowboys, Terrance Williams fits into one of those three categories, but which one?

It was plainly obvious that the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers all had an extremely disappointing 2017 season.

Everybody has their own opinion as to why this happened, but one thing is for sure, the Cowboys coaching staff will definitely look at ways to get more out of their receiving core. The one player who I think could be affected most by whatever decision the coaching staff ends up making is Terrance Williams.

Williams didn’t do much to make a case for keeping his starting job in 2017, let alone sticking on the roster.

To say he had a disappointing season would be an understatement.

Williams finished the 2017 season with just 53 receptions for 568 receiving yards and absolutely zero touchdowns. The Cowboys were likely hoping for more production from someone they just signed to a four-year, $17-million contract extension back in March [2017].

Now, you can make the argument Williams took a team discount in order to stay in Dallas, but that doesn’t carry much weight when your production leaves so much to be desired. This is especially true when there might be somebody on the roster who can do just as well, and possibly be an upgrade.

Noah Brown

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Yes, if you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m talking about Noah Brown.

I know I’m not alone here, but I think Noah Brown could easily replace Terrance Williams’ production. I understand that there’s not much evidence to back up that statement based on Brown’s rookie season, but he has all the tools required to succeed.

This is really all about potential, and Noah Brown simply has more upside than Terrance Williams.

We all know what Terrance Williams is as a receiver, and what he brings to the table for the Cowboys offense. I believe Noah Brown can do all the things Williams does and has the potential to be even better.

I already think Noah Brown is a better blocker, something the Cowboys coaching staff really values about Williams. I also think Brown is a better pass catcher. He is a natural hands catcher and has a large catching radius, something Williams obviously isn’t (body catcher).

Right now, Williams is only better than Noah Brown in a few areas. He is slightly faster, he’s more advanced as a route runner, and has more experience. That’s about it.

This will obviously be a tough decision for the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff to make. But, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we see Terrance Williams playing somewhere else when the 2018 season kicks off.

Do you think Terrance Williams will be with the Cowboys in 2018?

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Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?

Sean Martin

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Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

Three of the four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs — a win away from the Super Bowl — ranked within the top four defensively in yards per game allowed this season. The other is the defending-champion New England Patriots, who of course were expected to reach yet another AFC Championship game, thanks to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

Somewhere between this field, losing their 2017 hopes at a deep playoff run to injuries, suspensions, and just poor execution at times, are the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys ranked eighth in yards allowed per game at 318.1 this season.

On the surface, all this provides hope that typically springs eternal around the league through the offseason.

It has been far too long since the Cowboys defense matched the skill level of the team’s offense, but Rod Marinelli’s unit (not exactly by design) outplayed that of Scott Linehan’s at times through this 9-7 campaign.

This defensive rebuild in Dallas began with the admission that this group had reached their ceiling in the offseason, as the Cowboys let long-time starters like CB Morris Claiborne, CB Brandon Carr, S Barry Church (now with the Jaguars), and S J.J. Wilcox go in free agency.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense?

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis, CB Chidobe Awuzie, S Xavier Woods (AP Photo / Ron Jenkins)

For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, looking to turn over an entire secondary in a division featuring Carson Wentz, Eli Manning, and Kirk Cousins as quickly as the Cowboys did was a risky move. Their confidence in hitting on draft picks paid off though.

The Cowboys’ bright future is predicated on the likes of CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Jourdan Lewis, and S Xavier Woods.

With two young starters at cornerback, the sky truly is the limit the this Cowboys defense. And they’ll play in support of an offense with more than enough talent to return to form in 2018.

As it stands now under Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys defense is built to keep everything in front of them, and get bodies to the football. This coverage-friendly approach could be taken to new heights with Lewis and Awuzie on the outside, along with Anthony Brown finding a home in the slot. All three cornerbacks have excelled at using their speed, length, and technique to get their hands on passes.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 1

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

Of course, games are won in the trenches, where the idea of the Cowboys defensive line ever rising to the level of their offensive line was laughable until recently. Whether it’s with the franchise tag or a long-term extension, sack-artist DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be an all-important member of this entire team moving forward.

A healthy Lawrence was a nightmare for opposing right tackles in 2017. He earned a national spotlight each week on his way to the quarterback 14-and-a-half times. Making it look easy at times, Lawrence is a refined rusher with the speed and power to win inside and out.

The RDE position remains a sore spot in need of talent as this Cowboys defense looks to take the next step, but there’s hope for the likes of Randy Gregory, Charles Tapper, and Taco Charlton to get the job done, along with veteran starter Tyrone Crawford.

With Crawford at RDE for much of 2017, running the ball against the Cowboys front was a tall order. His ability to capture the corner against left tackles came as a pleasant surprise to many, and once in position, the defensive captain chased down plenty of plays.

Tyrone Crawford wasn’t the only pleasant surprise on the Dallas Cowboys defensive line this season.

Rookie Taco Charlton looked like an entirely different player to close a first year in Dallas that began with completely uninspiring results. Charlton — having the physical traits to play at the next level — was never a question out of Michigan.

He may never be a player to take over games for a defense, which the Cowboys couldn’t have expected to find at DE selecting 28th overall, but an improved player at DE and DT could be an incredibly valuable asset for the Cowboys in 2018 and beyond.

This leaves the Cowboys linebacker corps, where we find the best example of young potential on the entire defense. Amazingly playing in all 16 games, LB Jaylon Smith is in line to take a massive step forward in year two.

Smith closed his season looking enticingly close to the player he was at Notre Dame, an encouraging sign as the Cowboys look to become less dependent on Sean Lee on this side of the ball.

Lee and Smith paired together would give the Cowboys a middle-of-the-field presence to rival the best in the league. Both players have exceptional range and awareness to run down plays from sideline to sideline.

Anthony Hitchens, an impending free agent, is another valuable piece at LB with his ready ability to play all three positions at a relatively high level.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

Stefon Diggs racing to the end zone with no time left to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship game will be the lasting image of this past Divisional Round weekend, an offensive play that will live on forever.

A closer look at these games and the teams that survived them reveals a collective trust in defenses, a trust the Cowboys could be blissfully close to with their own young defense.

The Cowboys are likely losing one of the smarter minds behind their defense in recent years, with Matt Eberflus ticketed for Josh McDaniel’s staff, and are still in need of a secondary coach after not retaining Joe Baker. In a league where better talent typically prevails though, the possibility of the Cowboys building a championship defense for next season and beyond may not be far off.

With defenses in Jacksonville and Philadelphia providing the hope that both teams can pull off the impossible and reach the Super Bowl on Sunday, will defensive potential be enough for Dallas to get through this long offseason and start the even longer path back to their first NFC Championship game in 21 seasons?

Tell us what you think about “Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Can Rico Gathers Make Cowboys Offense More “Dak-Friendly”?

Brian Martin

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Rico Gathers, Rams

The Dallas Cowboys unfortunately face all kinds of questions heading into the 2018 offseason. Right now, there are no answers to those questions, which means we’ll just have to sit back and take a wait-and-see approach. But, one question that absolutely has to be answered is how to make the Cowboys offense more Dak Prescott friendly.

Offensively, the Dallas Cowboys had an extremely disappointing year in 2017. Suspensions and injuries are the main culprits for the disappointment, but the Dallas Cowboys haven’t really changed things much in the scheme or personnel to help Dak Prescott succeed.

The sad truth is, the Dallas Cowboys are still operating as if Tony Romo is the starting quarterback. It’s pretty much the same personnel and scheme, but it really doesn’t suit Prescott.

It’s time for that to change. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that will happen overnight.

The Cowboys spent years putting together the personnel to help Romo. Just when they thought they had the missing piece — by drafting Ezekiel Elliott, Romo sustained a back injury, pretty much ending his career.

Anyway you look at it, the offensive personnel needs to improve in order to make this team more “Dak-friendly”.

Enter Tight End Rico Gathers.

Rico Gathers

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

The Dallas Cowboys have invested two years in Rico Gathers’ development, but with the exception of a few flashes in preseason, they haven’t benefited from the fruits of their labor. The 2018 season should be Gathers’ coming-out party.

We all witnessed what the Cowboys offense looks like when they are forced to rely on the passing game. Dak Prescott struggled to find any kind of consistency throwing the ball — with the options he had at his disposal in 2017 — while Ezekiel Elliott served a six-game suspension.

Defenses decided to take Prescott’s favorite target out of the equation by bracketing Cole Beasley in coverage. Then, they also devoted extra attention Dez Bryant‘s way, making it difficult to get him the ball.

The only other option left really was Jason Witten on simple check downs.

And that is what the future Hall of Famer has been reduced to.

Jason Witten is no longer the threat he once was. Yes, he is still a reliable target, but his age is starting to catch up to him, which has unfortunately robbed him of some of his athleticism. We will no longer see Witten stretch the field down the seam, or run many routes further than 10 yards.

That’s why I think Rico Gathers could be a difference maker in 2018, especially for Dak Prescott.

Prescott needs more than an outlet receiver at the TE position. No offense to Jason Witten, but that’s pretty much what he has become at this point in his career.

Rico Gathers on the other hand is not only different from Witten, but also provides a different skill set than any other TE on the Cowboys roster. He’s a big target with athleticism, who cannot only move the chains, but stretch the field and break tackles in the open field.

Gathers’ sheer size alone creates mismatch problems against smaller defensive backs and linebackers, but his athleticism should allow him to create separation, something which fits into what Prescott needs from his receivers.

There is no reason why the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff can’t find a way to incorporate Rico Gathers’ unique skill set into the offense. They may not truly trust him to be an every down player, but that’s not happening anyway, not with Jason Witten on the roster.

If it was me, I would have a few packages in the playbook specifically designed for Gathers. I not only think this will help him grow as a player, but help the Cowboys offense become more “Dak-friendly”.

Can Rico Gathers make the Cowboys offense more “Dak-friendly”?

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