Cowboys News App [Android]

Why Have So Many Turned on QB Ben DiNucci So Quickly?

There was an almost a 180-degree turn with many fans on last year. After a lot of hype and interest as a 7th-round draft selection, the rookie had a disastrous first start against the Eagles and was never heard from again. But is one game enough to bury this kid as a contender for the backup job in 2021?

DiNucci was bad that day in Philly; no doubt about it. He was just 21-of-40 for 180 yards and no touchdowns passing, plus had two fumbles. He looked uncomfortable all day and contributed to a humiliating outing overall for the Cowboys against a division rival.

2020 was a humiliation across the board for the organization, but also a byproduct of extensive issues, poor decisions, and the lack of preparation due to the pandemic. Just about everything that could possibly going wrong last year did.

Think about this; here's a kid whose last game was at James Madison University. He enters the NFL during the pandemic so doesn't get the usual rookie orientation or even games to help get acclimated.

Before he finally gets his chance, Ben watches the disintegrate as , , and all get injured. He sees go out for the year, and then a couple weeks later it's getting hurt.

All of a sudden, Ben DiNucci is the starting quarterback for the . That first start is on the road against the with a chance at winning the East still very much on the table.

Even though Zack Martin did return for that game, he was playing hurt and wasn't enough to make the solvent. DiNucci was under fire all day, struggling mightily but only moderately more than Dalton had the previous two games.

Sure, we all wanted the Cinderella story. We wondered who might play “The Nooch” in the future Disney movie. But instead of giving us a fairy tale, Ben DiNucci just did what most players would in the first start on one of the worst teams in football.

Who Will Open Up 2021 At Backup Quarterback?
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Ben DiNucci (Bill Streicher- Sports)

The Cowboys were right to give another QB prospect, , a shot the following week and he nearly pulled off a stunner against the undefeated . But Gilbert was no bright-eyed rookie; a 2014 draft pick who'd been around the league and also played professionally in the Alliance of American Football in 2019.

The funk that DiNucci had left everyone in benefitted Gilbert, who's now almost overrated because of how much better he looked the following week. Many are also taking that too far in assuming it means DiNucci just isn't NFL material.

In 1989, starting his first NFL game against the , a former 1st-overall pick named completed 48% of his passes, threw two picks with no touchdowns, and posted a laughable of just 40.2 on the day. Say what you want about DiNucci's first start, but he didn't get half the prep work Aikman did and he also managed not to throw any interceptions.

In 2006, coming in at halftime after years of grooming and with rising expectations that he would take over, promptly threw three interceptions against the Giants after replacing Drew Bledsoe.

Of course, we know how Troy and Tony turned out. My point is simple; one bad game can't define a career anymore than one good game. DiNucci's value as a QB prospect in 2021 is no more defined by his failure in Philly than Gilbert's is by one strong showing against Pittsburgh.

The entire rookie class of 2020 deserves some mercy given how the circumstances under which they entered the league. And even if it had been a normal year, how well should we have really expected a 7th-round pick to perform in his first start on the road in a game?

Sure, Ben DiNucci may not be cut out for the NFL. But it's far too soon, and with far too little evidence, to make that assertion.

Jess Haynie
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!

COntinue Reading


Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

> Join our team...

-- COWBOYS ANDROID APP --Free Dallas Cowboys News App for Android