#1. Andy Dalton, QB
When the Cowboys signed three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Andy Dalton to be the primary backup to Dak Prescott in Dallas, it was always believed to be a one-year rental. Recently turning 33-years old and with nine-seasons of starting experience with the Cincinnati Bengals under his belt, Dalton figured to land a starting gig somewhere in 2021.
Yet, Dalton’s play since Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week Five might have done more to cement his role as a backup rather than a potential starter for some NFL teams. And that’s surely not something the veteran passer was hoping for.
After rallying the Cowboys to a victory over the New York Giants directly following Prescott’s injury, Dalton struggled to lead Dallas in a 38-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals where he threw for 266 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
Dalton would struggle again against the Washington Football Team the following week, completing just nine of his 19 passes for 75 yards and one interception before being knocked out of the game midway through the third quarter. The resulting concussion and a bout with COVID-19 would sideline him for the next three weeks.
Against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11, Dalton would lead the Cowboys to a 31-28 victory in a strong bounce-back performance. He’d complete 22 of his 32 passes for 203 yards, three scores, and one pick.
Unfortunately, Dalton would once again struggle against Washington, this time at AT&T Stadium in front of a massive television audience on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys would lose 41-16 in a game that was a lot closer than the score. But Dalton was unable to lift the offense, throwing for 215 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in the losing effort.
Undoubtedly, Andy Dalton’s performance has suffered due to inconsistent play from an offensive line that has been absolutely decimated by injuries. And with All-Pro guard turned tackle Zack Martin now excepted to miss the next three to four weeks with a calf injury, things figure to get even worse.
But if the 10-year veteran signal-caller truly wants a shot of becoming a starter somewhere in 2021, a strong finish to his lone season in Dallas would certainly aid that cause.