When the NFL Draft on quarterback Joe Burrow, they gave nearly every other team in the league an opportunity to upgrade their backup quarterback situation by signing Dalton. In the end, it was the Dallas Cowboys who benefited from Dalton's availability. Last week, they signed him to a , which immediately gives them one of the best backup quarterback situations in all of football.after using the first-overall pick in the 2020
Don't overlook just how much a backup quarterback matters in the NFL. Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 filling in for Drew Brees last season, allowing the Saints to win the NFC South. Matt Moore won two of his three games (two starts, three appearances) in Patrick Mahomes' absence, allowing the Chiefs to capture the second seed in the AFC before they went on to win the Super Bowl with Mahomes. It was only a couple of seasons ago that the Eagles won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles at quarterback instead of Carson Wentz.
Speaking of Foles, during an interview with 1310 The Ticket in Dallas on Wednesday, Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones compared the Cowboys' backup situation with Dalton to the Eagles' former backup situation with Foles.
"To have a guy like Andy Dalton come in here -- not unlike what Philly had with Nick Foles when Carson Wentz went down -- to be able to take control and win games, win huge games for you if that's what you need is really important," Jones said, per ESPN's Todd Archer. "Certainly you can lay your head on the pillow better at night knowing you have someone like Andy Dalton."
He isn't wrong. In fact, Dalton is probably an even better quarterback than Foles. That doesn't mean Dalton is destined to lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl if Dak Prescott, the starter, is unable to play due to his ongoing contract circumstances or an untimely injury; what Foles did is unlikely to be replicated by any backup quarterback. It just means Dalton is a far more accomplished quarterback than Foles was back in 2017.
Since he entered the league back in 2011, Dalton ranks ninth in passing yards, 10th in touchdown passes, and eighth in quarterback wins. As the Bengals' starting quarterback for nine seasons, Dalton took them to the playoffs five times. Even though he's coming off a horrific 2019 season that saw him get briefly benched for Ryan Finley, Dalton was playing on a team that wasn't able to provide him a solid support structure. The offensive line was a mess and A.J. Green didn't play. Dalton is only two years seasons removed from playing competent football. In 2018, he ranked 17th in both DVOA, which measures value per play, and total QBR. Dalton has long been an NFL quarterback who can play good football if he's surrounded by good players, which is going to be the case in Dallas.
The Cowboys are set to roll into the upcoming season with one of the league's best offensive lines (per usual), arguably the best receiver trio in football with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and first-round rookie CeeDee Lamb, a top-five running back in Ezekiel Elliott, an effective backup running back in Tony Pollard, and a tight end in Blake Jarwin who could be poised for a breakout. On Wednesday, -- tied with the Saints and trailing only the Ravens and Chiefs.
So if Dalton is forced to step in for Prescott at some point during the 2020 season, it's not difficult to envision him having success. Of course, the hope for the Cowboys is that Dalton is never needed. They'd rather see him spend the entire season on the bench. Prescott is coming off a season that saw him rank sixth in DVOA and fourth in total QBR. Dalton is one of the best backup quarterbacks in football. Prescott is one of the best starting quarterbacks in football, which begs the question: Why haven't the Cowboys given him a long-term deal already? But for as poorly as the Cowboys have handled the Prescott contract situation, they've handled their backup situation just as well. Swapping in Dalton for Cooper Rush, now , is one of the biggest upgrades of the offseason.
For Dalton, it's an opportunity to boost his stock as a starting quarterback before the next offseason. Foles won a Super Bowl and led the Eagles to the playoffs the following season as a backup, which resulted in him getting a starting job in Jacksonville before Mitchell Trubisky. While Dalton winning the Cowboys a Super Bowl remains unlikely, the likelihood of him filling in and playing well enough to grab a starting job next year is significantly less unlikely., where he'll compete for the starting job against
In that sense, it's a perfect pairing for both parties.