The Most Overlooked Position For The 2015 Dallas Cowboys
By David Vaught
There is no doubt looking up and down the Dallas Cowboys 2015 training camp roster that the talent level is significant. With a reasonably healthy season, Dallas could easily have the most players tabbed for the Pro Bowl at the end of the year.
If you count offensive tackle La’el Collins as part of the draft, and you should considering he had a unanimous first round grade, the Cowboys had easily one of the best drafts among the thirty-two teams. Coming off a successful 12-4 season, one could argue there are very few holes to fill assuming the defensive line is improved. Except for one glaring weakness.
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The most obvious hole would be the quarterback holding the clipboard for starting Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo. I don’t subscribe to the hysteria about his back injuries, but any quarterback, young or old, good back or bad back, is one hit away from a major injury.
Only fourteen of the thirty-two teams had the same starting quarterback for every game last season. Although some of those missed starts were from coaching decisions, many were the result of injury. Counting Dallas, three out of the four NFC East teams had starting quarterbacks miss games due to injury.
The team has rolled the dice in previous seasons with disastrous results. In 2008, Romo went down and so did the Cowboys season. Last season, with a chance to become the front runner for best record in the NFC and home field throughout the playoffs, the back up quarterback laid an egg against Arizona.
We all heard the blame was on the Cleveland Browns coaching staff, the poor offensive line or lack of talented receivers. But after quarterback Brandon Weeden spent the entire off season with the Cowboys and received most of the reps because of Romo’s recovery from surgery, he still looked like the same player he was in Cleveland.
The offensive line couldn’t be an excuse any longer. The offensive coaching staff was regarded as one of the leagues best so that excuse is out the window. He had one of the top receiving corps in the game. The question then becomes, what makes the front office think that we will see a different player all of a sudden?
Enter third-string quarterback Dustin Vaughan. Vaughan has some attributes, but there is a reason he went undrafted. The production was there in college at West Texas A&M. His completion rate improved every season as a starter.
His touchdown to interception ratio was exceptional as well. For his career as a starter he threw 123 touchdowns to just 29 interceptions. Those numbers, along with his yards and completion percentage are eye popping.
The challenges though are many. Vaughan operated out the spread offense. As we all have been educated in spread quarterbacks the last few years, that means out of the shotgun with a one read throw. The large majority of his completions were of the five to ten yard variety. Quick reads with a lot of screens and bubble screens.
The other issue was accuracy on intermediate throws. Throwing to wide open receivers at that level of competition is nothing like playing quarterback in the NFL.
The windows in the NFL appear to be much to tight for the talent of Vaughan.
There is no doubt he was tough and wasn’t afraid to take hits. He is impressive in the pocket with his 6’5″, 235 pound frame. He appears to be a scout’s dream with the production and physical size.
But the production came against inferior competition at the Division II level. Production from lighting up the Western Washington’s and the Western Georgia’s of the world, rarely transfer to the NFL level.
Yes, Tony Romo went undrafted. Yes he also played against low level college competition at Eastern Illinois. The first point to be made is how rare that is.
Also, Romo didn’t have to be the direct back up right away. He also came from a pro style system and had the mental training to read defenses and scan the field as well as take snaps from center. If you read the scouting reports on him coming out of college, he had what scouts considered above average accuracy on all throws.
Do you really want to gamble that lightning strikes twice in the same place? Thanks to former Cowboys assistant coach Sean Payton, Dallas got lucky with Romo. The chances of Vaughan taking over for Romo or coming in to an important game and being successful are slim.
So there are your Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks. It is enough to make you hold your breathe every time you see a blitzing safety coming around the edge or the linebacker coming free up the middle. Cover your eyes and hope that Romo can make one of his patented spin moves.
It is baffling why the team hasn’t put more effort into finding a more suitable back up that has some NFL experience. The scene of Romo being helped off the field could turn what might be a dream season and return to Super Bowl glory for Cowboys, into a nightmare season.
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