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Scouting Report: Luke McCown A Welcome Backup QB For Cowboys

Sean Martin



Scouting Report: Luke McCown A Welcome Backup QB For Cowboys

In need of QB depth with four days before their first preseason game of 2017, the Dallas Cowboys signed veteran backup quarterback Luke McCown and waived the injured Zac Dysert.

McCown did not appear in a game in 2016 as a Saint, his third year backing up Drew Brees and fifth team overall after being drafted by the Browns in 2004.

Winding the clock back to 2015 though - to McCown's lone start against the formidable Carolina Panthers - there is a legitimate chance the Cowboys not only added their experienced camp arm but a candidate for the primary backup QB spot  behind Dak Prescott this season.

Here is what I saw from Luke McCown on the tape.

McCown1 - Streamable

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McCown kept the Saints in this game against the Panthers by doing what any backup QB should be expected to - stay within the offense and execute a game plan.

Setting himself up in the pocket to deliver passes with touch and accuracy was not a problem for McCown, almost to a fault at certain times as I would have liked to see him climb the pocket more and generate more zip on the ball.

Even still, McCown overcomes both velocity issues and a lengthy throwing motion to get through his progressions and consistently hit receivers in stride.

The short and intermediate game is where McCown will settle nicely into Scott Linehan's offense, as he'll hit his targets out of breaks with a sharp pre-snap understanding of the defense in front of him.

McCown3 - Streamable

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When asked to push the ball down the field, McCown expectedly was short on a few shots, but more times than not completed the ball to all fields with the slight movement skills in the pocket to create throwing lanes and set his feet.

McCown2 - Streamable

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This final throw that I'll show here from McCown is an example of the good and bad that you live with in your backup signal caller. The mechanics and setup are far from perfect, but Luke completes a deep out route to move the chains against tight coverage.

These are simply not plays that penciled-in backup Kellen Moore has made with the Cowboys in his opportunities that will continue into this five game preseason for Dallas. What will help Moore is that McCown's best backup play remains from 2015, meaning he is two years removed from meaningful reps.

With the accuracy, mobility, and mental edge to back up Dak Prescott, I expect McCown to push Moore significantly over the coming weeks until the team must decide which to keep - not expected to carry three quarterbacks with depth better applied elsewhere on the Cowboys' roster.

Tell us what you think about "Scouting Report: Luke McCown A Welcome Backup QB For Cowboys" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

  • John Williams

    First. And since I’m the first, let me be the first to say that I am extremely excited about this.

    That last throw is what I needed to see to be excited. The deep out route is what can earn McCown this job.

    Moore is limited as well downfield, but also doesn’t have much experience to help a team should somethin unfortunate happen.

    McCown will have a learning curve to catchup in the playbook, but he’s the backup I’ve been hoping for them to sign this offseason. If Sean Payton is comfortable enough to let you be the backup to Drew Brees for three years, that’s good enough for me.

    • Sean Martin

      Thanks as always for reading, John. The last point here about Payton is spot on when it comes to McCown. There’s a trust he’s clearly built with coaches that goes beyond the physical elements of playing QB – the mindset that is so important in backup quarterbacks. Luke can do nothing but help this QB room just as Sanchez did last year, and some of the skills are there to at least give this offense a chance without #4.

      • John Williams

        Absolutely. With as much as the Saints love to throw the ball around, you need to have a backup that can step in and execute the game plan and provide as seamless a transition as possible. McCown isn’t Drew Brees, but trust plays a huge role in putting any player on the field. This is why Lucky is no longer with us. The team lost faith in him.

    • George_Johnson

      Kellen Moore not having much experience is probably not much of a problem. S Linehan has called him a veteran. S Linehan has said he doesn’t need many reps since he knows exactly what to do. Since he has been playing QB since he could walk his dad was a coach and he was totally absorbed studying, practicing and playing QB relentlessly, I think his total experience is way beyond anyone in the NFL that has only played in three season games.

      • John Williams

        A veteran equals not a rookie. Anyone with 1 year or more is considered a veteran.

        Playing instinctively is good, but you also have to have the talent to do so. I have good instincts for Goalie in Lacrosse, but I’m not good enough to play at the professional level.

        It’s great that he’s been studying and playing quarterback all of his life, but you also have to have the arm talent to play the position. When it is all said and done, Kellen Moore will likely make a great coach in College or the NFL, but as a player, not so much.

  • George_Johnson

    Dream on Sean. You continue to under estimate Kellen Moore and don’t know a lot about K Moore’s skills/abilities. Quit judging him by the fact he looks like the equipment manager or an administrator on the team rather than an NFL QB. Start judging him by what S Linehan says. K Moore is the 2nd team QB for 2017, period. He will get the 2nd team reps and 2nd team preseason play. In order for him to lose this position he is going to have to start screwing up. This is not likely. He should be very ready at this point and this is his only opportunity to shine. I expect him to play well in preseason games and shut up his critics.

    McCown will have to learn the Dallas offense/playbook/game plans/Linehan thinking/receivers strengths and weaknesses/etc. It will take him some time. He will get the 3rd or 4th team reps and 3rd or 4th team preseason playing time. Most likely the earliest he would be able to be considered for 2nd team backup would be sometime during the regular season. So explain to me why the Dallas coaches would decide during the season to move McCown ahead of K Moore? The only thing I can think of is if Prescott got hurt and K Moore started at QB and kept screwing up. K Moore is not likely to lose the 2nd team QB position sitting on the bench. The earliest we are likely to see McCown at 2nd team if he turns out to be really good is most likely in 2018. IMO he will have to be really good to pass K Moore.

    K Moore is a master at pocket passing but with serious physical limitations. I had some doubts myself until one of the top QB experts in the world if not THE top QB expert ( i.e. Scott Linehan) says he can play in the NFL and that his arm is strong enough. He also said he compensate for his physical limitations with his outstanding pocket passing skills/abilities to get the job done. He also said he knows his limitations and does not try to make throws his arm will not allow him to. He recently described him as a machine. K Moore’s college coach (i.e. C Peterson) said and I quote, ” K Moore IS THE BEST POCKET PASSER I HAVE EVER SEEN.”

    • Willie Rogers

      I expect K.Moore to crumble and falter, this guy already proved he don’t belong, I seen enough in 2015 and im convinced L.McCown will beat him out even though I wish the cowboys would get rid of both of them and sign Michael Vick.

      • George_Johnson

        K Moore is the designated 2nd team QB so there won’t be any competition unless K Moore screws up big time and doesn’t play well overall. Therefore McCown will not likely get any chance at all at 2nd team QB. Unless Dallas keeps three QBs on the 53 man roster, McCown will likely be gone by the end of preseason.

        In 2015 when K Moore was playing for two and one half games, he was new to the Dallas offense/playbook, had never played against first team defense and had limited reps to get ready to play. S Linehan considering all the circumstances thought K Moore played well overall but did admit he made too many mistakes. I think you will see a big improvement in 2017 preseason as K Moore should be more than ready now and has a lot to prove. He is also known for not making mistakes or throwing interceptions so he is likely to clean this up.

Game Notes

Cowboys, Falcons Week 11 Injury Report

Jess Haynie



Zack Martin

The Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons are both 4-5 and playing to keep their seasons alive. It's a mutual must-win game, and both will have to try to win it without some key players. Once again, we look at this week's injury reports.

Let's begin with your Cowboys, whose report is getting longer as the season wears on:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • DE Taco Charlton (shoulder) - OUT
  • DT David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • DT Daniel Ross (calf) - OUT
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - OUT
  • DT Antwaun Woods (concussion) - Doubtful
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - Questionable
  • G Connor Williams (knee) - Questionable
  • DT Maliek Collins (knee) - Questionable
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - Questionable

The biggest news is the guy who won't miss tomorrow's game; All-Pro guard Zack Martin is expected to play despite his knee injury from last Sunday night. The Cowboys, already dealing with Travis Frederick's absence and now health issues at left guard, could ill afford to go without Martin in such a pivotal game.

Even if he was healthy, rookie Connor Williams might have a hard time getting in the game. Backup Xavier Su'a-Filo looked like an experienced former second-round pick last week, and he may be the better player for now.

The defensive line has been hit hard, particularly in the middle. With Irving and Ross out, Woods doubtful, and Collins uncertain, Dallas called up DT Christian Ringo from the practice squad. They will also be without Taco Charlton, who could play inside some. Veteran Caraun Reid will be seeing a lot of playing time.

Sean Lee's ongoing absence has become almost an afterthought now with the stellar play of Leighton Vander Esch. We've seen in the past when missing Lee meant disaster on defense, but Dallas' first-round rookie has helped mitigate the damage.

Atlanta Falcons

  • LB Deion Jones (foot) - OUT

It's a short list for Atlanta, but the one name on it is a big one. Arguably the team's best defensive player, Deion Jones will miss the game with a foot injury.

The Falcons' injury issues have been more in players suffering season-ending injuries. Both starting guards, Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco, are on injured reserve. Star running back Devonta Freeman is also there, and those losses help explain Atlanta's 30th-ranked rushing offense.

Both starting safeties are also on IR; Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal. Atlanta has one of the league's worst passing defense this year without them, ranking 30th in yards allowed and 28th in opponent passer rating.

So yes, the Falcons injury report compared to the Cowboys' may raise some eyebrows. But in terms of who has most of their key guys, Dallas is arguably still better off.

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Dallas Cowboys

4 Best Candidates for Cowboys’ Next Offensive Coordinator

Shane Carter



Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan

The big word around the Dallas Cowboys lately is about Jason Garrett and the future of the head coaching job. Some have speculated that either Quarterback Dak Prescott or Jason Garrett will get axed, and the other will stay.

Owner Jerry Jones was quoted on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas about his young quarterback, putting to bed at least half of the conflict.

"Dak is the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He’s young and he’s going to get extended."

This shut the door on the idea of Prescott being replaced.

As far as Jason Garrett? Jerry Jones has been less than committed.

"I’m not in the business of backing anybody; the head coach, or offensive coordinator, I just don’t back them publicly." Jerry Jones said.

So it seems that Jason Garrett’s future is up in the air.

But what about offensive coordinator Scott Linehan? What’s held the Cowboys back this year has been the offense, and a lot of it can be contributed to their predictable play calling and inability to adapt to today’s game and its current players.

Whether or not Jason Garrett retains his job, Scott Linehan’s job doesn’t seem near as secure. His scheme doesn’t really mesh with Dak Prescott and how the offense could look. There’s only so many times you can run a three tight end set and not get furious.

Cowboys fans may want Garrett gone but they might have to settle for a new offensive coordinator instead.

The good news is that there are many options out there. Options that not only could work well with Dak Prescott, but could bring the Cowboys offense into the 2010s.

Shane Waldron

Jerry Jones once said how the Cowboys offense was like the LA Rams. If they are able to sign their Co-Offensive Coordinator, then they could be.

When Matt LaFleur left to become the Tennessee Titans OC, the job became a shared job between Waldron and Aaron Kromer. I wonder if Waldron would rather have the job all to himself?

What makes Waldron so appealing is he is also the Rams tight ends coach and passing game coordinator. Those are two areas where the Rams excel and where the Cowboys need help.

Teams are going to start copying the offensive juggernauts of the NFL and the Rams are definitely one of them. The Cowboys should do themselves a favor and get out in front before other teams beat them to it.

Scott Turner

Cam Newton is having one of his best seasons. Not only is he an MVP candidate but he’s set to have career highs in completion percentage and QBR, as well as a career low in interceptions. Cam Newton is a very talented quarterback but some of this has to be attributed to his new Quarterback Coach, Scott Turner.

The son of Norv Turner, Scott has seemingly helped mold Cam into a more accurate passer without compromising who Cam Newton is as an athletic quarterback. That has Dak Prescott written all over it.

He's got NFL lineage and a new, scary Cam Newton to add to his resume. He may not have as impressive a track record as others on here but he looks like he could be a chip off the old block and get the Cowboys where they need to be going.

Lincoln Riley

A popular head coach candidate, Lincoln Riley has shown his creativity and offensive innovation during his short time as Oklahoma’s head coach. It’s uncertain if he’ll get any real offers to be a head coach, but as an OC, he would be a serious grab.

Everyone has seen the work he’s done with Baker Mayfield and now Kyler Murray. How he’s able to incorporate different formations to open up the pass game and have the run game seem unstoppable. Just imagine what he could do with the weapons he would have at his disposal in Dallas.

It's likely that Lincoln Riley is a hot commodity for a head coach position, especially in Cleveland where he could reunite with Baker Mayfield. That shouldn’t stop the Cowboys from trying to lure him to Dallas, though. Lincoln Riley could be the real missing piece that Dallas has been looking for.

Eric Bieniemy

Another product of Andy Reid, Eric Bieniemy is the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. The former running backs coach has the experience under Andy Reid on not only how to run an offense but to use your weapons at your disposal to the fullest.

Maybe I’m over-hyping this man but when you see the work he helped put in with Pat Mahomes and how he uses those weapons around him, it makes me imagine what he can do for the Cowboy offense.

The team has no shortage of weapons and could benefit greatly from a guy like this.

If the Chiefs make it past their first playoff game, Bieniemy could become a more attractive name when it comes time for new head coaches. However, if Jerry Jones comes calling and the right offer is met, who’s to say?

If Kris Richard can be lured from Seattle to fix the Cowboys defense, Eric Bieniemy can be lured from Kansas City to fix the Cowboys offense.

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Game Notes

Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta

Sean Martin



Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta

The Dallas Cowboys play their next three games in 13 days, all critical to their hopes of winning the NFC East despite alternating wins and losses since week one. For the Cowboys to earn consecutive road wins, their first coming on Sunday night at the Eagles, they'll have to come out of Atlanta in much better shape than they did just a year ago.

As expected in the NFL, a lot has changed in this year. The Cowboys 27-7 loss at the Falcons in their first game without Running Back Ezekiel Elliott was the beginning of the end on a season that forced a multitude of coaching changes in Dallas.

The Cowboys stubbornness in allowing Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn to sack Dak Prescott six times by beating Chaz Green and Byron Bell is something they hoped to move past when new positional coaches were brought in at OL, TE, QB, and WR.

It took the team admitting that these moves below Offensive Coordinator Scot Linehan were not all correct two weeks ago for the Cowboys to see any real progress, but with their win last week there's hope that the Cowboys are the improved team expected weeks ago - arrived just in time for Thanksgiving.

Firing Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander was the first move, as the Cowboys named Marc Colombo OL Coach and Hudson Houck his assistant. Colombo told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas this week that he has injured Center Travis Frederick on a headset during games as well.

Colombo, Houck, and Frederick have the Cowboys offensive line confident in their ability to play to their strengths, rewarded with a renewed faith in the zone blocking scheme that was forgotten under Alexander.

If the Cowboys offensive line was their first problem in last year's Falcons loss (it was), it's becoming their biggest strength at the right time in the season.

The Cowboys necessary changes didn't stop here though.

In desperate need of a play maker on the outside, the Cowboys are seeing their investment into Wide Receiver Amari Cooper pay off so far. Cooper is averaging 3.2 yards of separation on his routes this season, ahead of Cole Beasley's 2.6 yards as the next closest pass catcher.

Cooper's presence was a big part of Ezekiel Elliott's 151 yard rushing performance at the Eagles. A player that can win on the outside with ease and dictate coverage has benefited Prescott and the Cowboys game plan on offense enough to send away a first round pick.

It will be up to this "rebuilt" Cowboys offense to match the Falcons on Sunday. Atlanta is averaging 27.1 points per game this season, but a much more dangerous 32.2 at home. After a 1-4 start, the 4-5 Falcons are playing in front of their home fans for the first time in two weeks, losing at the Browns in week ten.

The Cowboys felt they'd be prepared for games like this after their offseason moves, instead needing to show the type of in-season urgency that's been rare for Jason Garrett's team. The same can be said about a Falcons team that's experienced playing with their backs to the wall much sooner than the Cowboys have this season, setting up a big NFC match up in the early slot Sunday.

Dak Prescott will be thankful that Chaz Green nor Byron Bell are protecting him, wanting nothing more than to deliver another win for the Cowboys to take into Thanksgiving against the division-leading Washington Redskins. Not all of the coaches responsible for the lack of adjustment in last year's game are gone. What the Cowboys do have are tangible new ideas from coaches that understand they need more than a win at the defending Super Bowl champions to call this Cowboys season a success.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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