It’s a good idea to simply forget Sunday’s big win against the Giants in New York. The Dallas Cowboys got what they needed—then.
Now the Cowboys have to focus on their next opponent, the Oakland Raiders.
This is a dicey contest for a couple of reasons.
First of all, the Cowboys will be facing a team that has absolutely nothing to lose. The Raiders, with a record of 4-7, can simply let it all hang out since there’s really no way that the “Men in Black” will qualify for the postseason.
Finally, Dallas will know next to nothing about Oakland starting quarterback Matt McGloin, an undrafted passer last April out of Penn State that’s scheduled to make his third career start in the NFL on Thanksgiving Day.
It’s true that an injury to former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the Raiders’ third-year veteran starter, is the main reason that McGloin has even seen the field. The lousy play of Matt Flynn earlier this season likely accounts for the rest of the story currently being written about McGloin.
The Cowboys know a thing or two about undrafted quarterbacks, don’t they?
Sometimes a young and unproven quarterback can be just what the doctor ordered, at least concerning the fortunes of an NFL team that’s simply trying to find one. Cowboys owner and general manger Jerry Jones would have to agree with that fact.
Remember that big showdown against the Giants at Texas Stadium back in 2006? It was Week 7 of the regular season when then-starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe fizzled during a first half which ended with a crucial interception near the goal line. The ill-timed turnover inspired then-head coach Bill Parcells to put undrafted Tony Romo, a fourth-year veteran at the time, into the game to start the second half. This wasn’t Romo’s first time on the field, but it was his first invitation to take the starting job.
New York would end up winning that game in convincing fashion, but Romo would end up starting the following week against the Carolina Panthers—and Romo won that first start, on the road mind you. Injuries aside, Romo has been the starter in Dallas ever since.
McGloin saw his first NFL action under similar circumstances early this month during mop-up duty in a lopsided loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Oakland. Two weeks later he earned his first professional start against the struggling Texans in Houston—and this is where it gets rather interesting.
McGloin, like Romo, delivered a surprising performance against a conference rival that certainly expected an easy victory against an opponent that didn’t seem to have football’s most important position figured out.
Well, after posting a quarterback rating of 105.9, which included three touchdown passes in a surprising Raiders victory, the Texans realized that Oakland wasn’t in such bad shape after all.
McGloin lost his second start against the Tennessee Titans last Sunday, but the Oakland defense can shoulder at least as much of the blame for that loss as the undrafted rookie. Let’s not forget to include two missed field goal attempts by Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski—those errors could have changed everything.
For the season, McGloin has four touchdown passes to go with a single interception. His yardage in the air shouldn’t be overlooked either.
McGloin was a walk-on at Penn State back in 2009 and would make his first start as a sophomore in 2010. In addition to surviving all of the drama surrounding former Nittany Lion’s defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky in 2011, McGloin racked up an impressive resume as a starting quarterback at a university known as “Linebacker U”. Highlights include an Honorable Mention All Big Ten, a Burlsworth Trophy and numerous Penn State passing yardage and touchdown records.
Thus far in the NFL, McGloin already has earned a Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week award, this following his victory over Houston in Week 11.
Now is a good time to remember that the Dallas defense does almost nothing well at all. When it isn’t giving up huge numbers in the air, it’s gladly offering up big yardage on the ground. Forcing turnovers is about the only strength happening for the Cowboys on defense—but now, here comes an undrafted rookie quarterback with little game tape to review that seems to take care of the football. McGloin also throws the ball down field, just like his undrafted counterpart on Thanksgiving. His average completion of 6.89 yards is just under Romo’s 2013 average of 7.18 yards per completion.
Don’t take this to mean that McGloin is in the same class as Romo—this is far, far from the point.
Nonetheless, McGloin is capable of winning a football game, in the state Texas mind you, by simply standing in the pocket and throwing to his tallish wide receivers and tight ends. Against this year’s Dallas defense, this fact is enough to cause some concern for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
In the week-to-week league that is today’s NFL, every game can go one way or another. If Jerry Jones wants to be sporting that nice big grin he had following the Giants win after this Thursday’s ballgame, the Cowboys had better find the pass rush and not allow this young Oakland quarterback with much to learn to feel too good about himself, period.