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.
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.
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.
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.