As we enter the final week of preseason NFL games many teams are figuring out their depth charts. As for the Dallas Cowboys they have a for sure QB 1 in Dak Prescott. There are 3 guys on the roster currently behind him but the order remains uncertain. The looming question remains this… the Dallas Cowboys what is up with the backup QB situation?
Ben DiNucci was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2020 NFL Draft in the 7th round. He was the 3rd string QB for the beginning of the season, until Dak went down with his season ending injury. Then he served as backup QB to Andy Dalton. DiNucci got his shot to play in his first NFL game on October 25, 2020. This game was against the Washington Football Team where Dalton left the game with a concussion. The following week against the Philadelphia Eagles he was the starter, but had a poor performance. He completed 21 of 40 attempts for 180 yards and lost two fumbles. The following week he was the backup for Garrett Gilbert.
This preseason DiNucci has thrown for the most attempts of the three QB’s. Against the Cardinals preseason week 1 we saw a TD pass, but in preseason week 2 against the Texans he threw 3 interceptions. Personally I do not think he will be serving the backup QB role. I believe he will be signed to the practice squad by the end of training camp as a possible call up QB 4 option.
Garrett Gilbert was also a 2020 signing by the Dallas Cowboys. On October 12, 2020 the Cowboys signed him for the Browns practice squad. This was a move to provide some veteran experience as a backup to Andy Dalton. Gilbert got his start November 7, 2020 against the Steelers, and gave an impressive performance for a backup. In this game he completed 21 of 38 attempts for 283 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. He almost pulled the upset against an undefeated team but ultimately the Cowboys lost that game and he returned to backup with Dalton coming back the following week.
As I mentioned Gilbert does have playing experience on other NFL teams, but these were brief. He also played 8 games for the Alliance of American Football’s league before it was ultimately suspended. In those 8 games with the Orlando Apollos Gilbert completed 157 of 259 attempts for 2152 yards, 13 TD’s and 3 interceptions. He proved himself at a lower level but can he prove himself at a higher level when needed? This is the guy many think is likely to be the backup QB option if they stay with players already on the team.
Cooper Rush reunited with the Dallas Cowboys also in 2020. He was signed to the practice squad on October 30, 2020 to provide extra depth after Dak’s season ending injury. Although he never saw any playing time as QB 5. He was on the active roster just for 1 game, this was the November 7th game against the Steelers. Then he was sent back down to practice squad when Dalton returned. However it did not end badly, on January 4, 2021 Rush signed a reserve/future contract with the Cowboys.
Rush has served the backup QB role for the Dallas Cowboys in the past. He was their backup QB for the 2017-2019 seasons. Although with Dak being healthy at these times he saw very little playing time. His NFL debut came at the very end of the fourth quarter week 7 against the 49ers in 2017. In that debut was 1 of 3 attempts for 2 yards and 2 rushes for 13 yards. In the 2018 season he only played in the 4th quarter of week 6 against the Jaguars handing the ball off the running backs. 2019 he was the only backup on the roster but again just came into games to close them out with no pass attempts.
As for preseason Rush had a good performance in week 2. He completed 10 of 12 attempts for 97 yards and threw for 2 TD’s. Rush has history with the Cowboys but lacks full playing experience besides preseasons. He could be a contender for backup QB against Gilbert.
Backup QB Situation Summary
With Dak Prescott recovering from a shoulder strain issue the backup QB situation is an important one to handle. We do not know how well Dak will perform if he is ready for week 1. We also do not know how much hitting Dak could take. Cowboys fans are worried if Dak goes down with another injury this season do they have a reliable backup QB. Personally, I do not think the Cowboys do on the roster. They have a guy who has served as a backup QB for a healthy Dak and another guy who has shown one impressive performance in the NFL, and 8 in the AAF. This is not reassuirng, but with a healthy Dak one of these two could be groomed into a decent backup QB. Or maybe the Dallas Cowboys take a chance on signing veteran backup QBs. Im looking at you Nick Foles or Blake Bortles. Regardless, the Dallas Cowboys should soon provide the answer to what is up with the backup QB situation.
Featured Image (insidethestar.com)
~Josie Averitt (@JosieAve On Twitter).
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