Apparently, Jerry Jones is a big believer in Andy Dalton. At least, that’s the takeaway based on the Dallas Cowboys owner’s latest message about the former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback. But can Dalton keep Dallas in the playoff? Or will the 31-year-old who has never won a single playoff game falter as the season continues?
Andy Dalton takes over for Dak Prescott
Just a few days after getting cut by the Bengals, Andy Dalton signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Cowboys. For Jerry Jones, adding a quarterback with Dalton’s experience represented a smart investment given Dak Prescott’s contract situation. The move looks even smarter now given his gruesome season-ending injury.
Dalton takes over a 2-3 Dallas team that somehow sits atop the NFC East. While nobody would describe the 32-year-old as an elite quarterback, he does have a solid track record of production.
The 2011 second-round pick started his NFL career by leading the Bengals to five straight playoff appearances. The three-time Pro Bowler went 70-61-2 in nine years as Cincinnati’s starting QB. However, Dalton failed to win any of his four playoff starts.
Still, he has a chance to succeed in a starting role in Dallas. After all, the Cowboys boast a deep group of weapons and play in a division that is wide open for the taking.
Jerry Jones sends a clear message about the Cowboys’ $3 million savior
While a faction of Cowboys fans may think otherwise, Andy Dalton apparently can lead America’s Team to a Super Bowl title. At least, that’s how Jerry Jones sees it. During Friday’s appearance on 105.3 The Fan, the 78-year-old sent a clear message about the Cowboys’ $3 million savior.
“If we don’t reach where we want to go ultimately, and the ultimate success is to win the championship, it will not be because of Andy Dalton,” Jones said. “It will not be because of our play at quarterback. He’s capable of stepping in and playing at that level.”
Clearly, Jones believes Dalton has what it takes to lead the Cowboys for the rest of the season. But is he correct in his assessment of the team’s new starting quarterback?
Can Dalton keep Dallas in the playoff hunt?
On one hand, Jerry Jones’ clear message about Andy Dalton shouldn’t come as a surprise. Did he really have any other choice but to publicly support the veteran? After all, if Jones had raised any concerns about Dalton, Cowboys fans would rightfully have reason to panic.
However, Dallas better hope Dalton can rediscover his early-career form if the team has any plans of making a playoff run.
The Texas native hasn’t exactly played at a high level in quite some time. Dalton hasn’t surpassed 4,000 passing yards since 2016—the last season in which he earned Pro Bowl honors. In 2019, Dalton posted the worst QBR of his career (38.9) and averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt—his lowest mark since his rookie year.
At the same time, the Bengals experienced injury issues in recent years, which robbed Dalton of some of his top weapons. In Dallas, he will be surrounded by one of the top supporting casts in the NFL.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound signal-caller gets to work with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, and Ezekiel Elliott. Plus, Dalton Schultz has stepped up after Blake Jarwin tore his ACL.
However, Dalton will not have the benefit of playing behind an elite offensive line. With Tyron Smith and La’el Collins undergoing season-ending surgeries, the Cowboys’ once-dominant starting five has been forced to start a pair of undrafted free agents at tackle. Will Dalton have enough time in the pocket to find an open receiver? Or will Dallas’ injury-ravaged line crumble as the season progresses?
Jerry Jones certainly believes in his new quarterback’s ability to keep the Cowboys in the playoff hunt, but Andy Dalton faces a huge challenge in proving his boss correct.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.