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Why Andy Dalton Deserves Another Chance as Cowboys Starting QB

Last week the Cowboys front office had to publicly declare that Andy Dalton would retain his role as starting quarterback once he returned from injury and the COVID-19 reserve list. But while some wish Dallas would give the opportunity to lesser-known entity, Dalton deserves another shot at the job he was brought here to do.

Garrett Gilbert’s relatively dazzling play last week against Pittsburgh, helping Dallas nearly get an upset over the undefeated Steelers, has left many wondering if Dalton should get his job back. After all, the only time Dalton looked that competent was after coming in for Dak Prescott against the Giants.

Dalton was the QB for the Monday night humiliation against the Arizona Cardinals and most of the ugly loss to Washington. Things were so bad that going from Dalton to Ben DiNucci the following week against Philadelphia didn’t make any tangible difference.

So yeah, Gilbert’s performance last week has left many with questions and concerns about Dalton returning as the starter. But there’s a key factor in this debate that can’t be ignored.

All-Pro guard Zack Martin left the Arizona game early with an injury and did not return, then missed the following week against Washington. That left Dalton with the worst edition of the Cowboys’ offensive line that we’ve seen all season; only Connor Williams on the field from among the team’s original starters.

Sure, the pitiful Giants helped make Dalton look good in his season debut. But that’s the only time Dalton’s been on the field with Zack Martin for more than a few snaps, and that was a contributing factor as well.

Simply put, would Andy Dalton have been able to do as much or more than Garrett Gilbert did last week? Do we really have enough evidence yet to say who the better option is?

Andy Dalton
Dallas Cowboys QB Andy Dalton

The current bye week actually works out well for the Cowboys in handing things back over to Dalton. It allows for a bit of a reset and for Dalton to fully reassert himself in preparation for the Vikings next week.

Remember how we felt after Andy came in after Dak’s injury and engineered a late-game drive to get the win. There was a lot of optimism about what Dallas could still do given the weak NFC East and what we saw from Dalton in that victory.

In hindsight, maybe that had more to do with how bad the Giants are. But again, have we seen enough of Dalton in reasonable circumstances to make a confident evaluation?

Losing Zack Martin for Andy’s two starts was a death blow to the Cowboys’ ability to function offensively. Since his return, we’ve seen how Martin’s presence stabilizes things across the board for the offense. Even without his Pro Bowl teammates around him, Zack can at least help keep things solvent.

Dalton deserves a chance to play with Zack Martin in front of him. He deserves an opportunity to compete with the Cowboys defense finally showing up to play.

Of course, the key word in that statement is “opportunity.” What Dalton does with it is up for evaluation and perhaps, at some point, Garrett Gilbert will deserve a chance to build on what we saw against Pittsburgh.

But if the Cowboys still hope to make something of this season then Andy Dalton’s experience and proven skills are still worth leaning on for now. And next week is a great test; the Vikings are just 3-5 as of today and present a winnable game if Dallas performs like it did last week.

We’ll see what Dalton and the Cowboys do with that opportunity next Sunday.

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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  1. I saw a complete change in the Quarterbacking of Kurt Warner when he was no longer afforded the opportunity to sit in the pocket and wait for the right move. When quarterbacks are use to a certain clock, (even the rookie from his college team) in their head, and suddenly 3 seconds becomes 1 second, it take a while to adjust to getting rid of the ball within 1 second of the snap. Nobody has had a chance to adjust properly. New coach, 2020, yada, yada, yada. Warner made a comeback with the Cardinals when he looked washed up.

  2. I think Dalton deserves a chance to see what he can do. With that said though I noticed tday wo things that separate Gilbert and AD. One Gilbert has good mobility and Dalton does not and I know I’m judging by one game, but Gilbert just seems to have more zip on his ball than AD.

    The days of classic drop back QBs are a thing of the past. The modern QB must have mobility and escapability. The really good ones can run for first downs and throw well on the run. The best in the league (Wilson/Mahomes) can do that at an elite level.

    I’m not saying that Dalton has to be in their class, just that lack of mobility especially with this O line makes him a dinosaur of sorts. He has to have a great O line to have any success IMO.

  3. I would go with the hot hand, GG. Not a knock on AD, but really liked what I saw from GG, giving an undefeated Steeler team all they could handle. Agree with you Gary b about QB mobility. Unless you are a Dan Marino with that super quick release and that GREAT arm, you’re at a disadvantage in today’s NFL. Of course there are exceptions, Tom Brady being one. I know, not fair picking the GOAT.

  4. In reality, which quarterback has a chance to become a starter next season, Dalton or Gilbert? Dalton playing well these next 7 games, gives the Cowboys a chance at a high compensatory pick in 2022 draft. GM’s around the league, would give Dalton a pass for how dysfunctional of oline he has had to play behind. Also, his receivers giving lackluster performances. Once, Jerry sent some players packing, you’ve seen this team wake up.

  5. I feel like we are reaching when we’re putting the focus on Dalton having the “opportunity” to play with a linesman. Let’s not forget in that Giants game Dalton thru 2 ints which I credit only one to him which was the worse. He had jus as much time as Gilbert and looked worse against a lesser defense. If we making a argument for his experience I say he should recognize when to audible out of an obvious bad play. Hence he can’t look into a 9 man front and stay in a ru n play obviously seeing his WRs in one on one situations. Stephen Jones spoke out of place because that should been left up to the coach he and Jerry endorsed.

  6. VAM- Ur right about Marino and Brady. Also the Patriots always made sure the OL play was strong and of course the great coaching and schemes played into all that. But just as importantly while Brady wasn’t particularly athletic, he possessed what many great QBs do and that’s innate pocket presence. He was able to remain calm and continue scanning the field, even with chaos around him. He had a sixth sense when it came to feeling the rush and just had that internal clock that told him exactly when he needed to get rid of the ball. He was also a master at side stepping a foot to buy time, or stepping up in the pocket to do the same.

    Not all QBs possess those traits necessarily, but the great ones usually do.

  7. Doubtful Dalton does enuf this season to have other teams salivating over him. In fact he may be hurting his value by being exposed for what he is at this point in his career. He would have been better served never playing. Now teams know what his limitations are. If he doesn’t embarrass himself he might latch on as a back up somewhere next yr

    Seems pretty silly when you think back on how some guys thought there wouldn’t be much of a drop off if we replaced Dak with him. The team had alot of injuries when Dak was playing too. Despite those injuries he was able to elevate this bad team to heights that now they can only dream of reaching

    Guys were saying play Dalton there won’t be much drop off and run Zeke more. Uh not so much.

  8. I hope and pray we stay with the hot hand but knowing jerry he’ll find a way to mess everything up, not saying I don’t respect Andy but I know what works in This league not pocket quarterback with bang up Oline so please go with the hot hand I been a fan since 1990 Smfh we will not win with a pocket qb keep Gilbert in if we wanna win division

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