More quarterback problems for America's Team.
Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton will miss a second straight game this weekend. Dalton has been placed on the NFL’s COVID-reserve list and needs six days of negative tests to return, so he’s already been ruled out for Sunday.
That means poor rookie Ben DiNucci will likely start against the mighty Steelers, the NFL’s only undefeated team.
The news about Dalton comes from ESPN NFL Nation Cowboys reporter Todd Archer and it comes as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was blasting DiNucci, who made his first NFL start on Sunday night against the Eagles.
“Well, I think it was a lot for him,” Jones said in an interview on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, according to a story from Yahoo! Sports. “I think we certainly, as a team, paid the price to have him come in under those circumstances, and that’s almost trite. It was, frankly, more than he could handle. I don’t know what you could have expected for somebody to come in under those circumstances.”
That all might be true, but I’m not sure it's good form for the owner to question his starting quarterback's qualifications.
Talk about dysfunctional. And people wonder why the Cowboys never win anything.
DiNucci, a rookie 7th-round pick out of James Madison, completed 21 of 40 passes for 180 yards and a 64.6 passer rating in the Eagles’ 23-9 win at the Line. Two of the Cowboys’ three field goal drives went 15 yards or fewer.
Dalton started two games in place of Dak Prescott before suffering his concussion in a loss to Washington. Prescott is out for the year with a broken ankle suffered against the Giants.
The Steelers are 7th in the NFL in pass defense, 5th in yards allowed and 4th in points allowed.
The only rookie quarterbacks to beat the Steelers in the last eight years are Carson Wentz and Prescott, both in 2016. Wentz’s 125.9 passer rating in that game in 2016 is highest ever by a rookie against Pittsburgh.
The Cowboys don’t have to start DiNucci.
They also have Garrett Gilbert on the roster. Gilbert, originally the Rams’ 6th-round pick in 2014, has spent time with the Rams, Patriots, Lions, Raiders, Panthers, Orlando Apollos of the Alliance of American Football and Browns.
The Cowboys signed him off the Browns’ practice squad after Prescott got hurt. He’s 2-for-6 for 40 yards with no TDs or INTs in six games over the last seven seasons.
The Cowboys are 2-6 and have lost three straight. The Eagles are 3-4-1 and have won two straight.
Later Tuesday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Cowboys are seriously considering activating 26-year-old Cooper Rush off their practice squad and starting him against the Steelers instead of giving DiNucci another start.
Rush, who spent the last three seasons with the Cowboys but was in training camp with the Giants, has completed one of three career pass attempts and hasn’t thrown a pass since 2017.
If the Cowboys weren’t already out of what passes for the NFC East race, they may be now. Even if they somehow go 4-4 the rest of the year, the Eagles would finish ahead of them just by going 3-5.
Washington is 2-5 and the Giants 2-6, and as strange as it sounds, whoever wins their game Sunday in East Rutherford becomes the 1st-place Eagles’ biggest competition in the division.