Whoever came up with the cliche, “it’s always darkest before the dawn,” never watched the Dallas Cowboys. Each week seems to bring a new problem to the forefront for America’s Team; that’s already true for Week 8, thanks to some bad news about Andy Dalton
During Week 7, Dalton absorbed a brutal cheap shot, suffering a concussion and knocking him out of the game. Based on the updates out of Dallas, it doesn’t look like the second-string quarterback will be ready to go this weekend, giving the Cowboys an extra issue ahead of their divisional date with the Eagles.
The Dallas Cowboys season has been a disaster
In recent years, most Dallas Cowboys seasons have ended in disappointment. Even the most pessimistic fan, however, couldn’t have imagined what 2020 held.
On paper, the Cowboys entered the season in a decent place. Dak Prescott was still on the roster, even if he only inked a one-year franchise tender; similarly, Mike McCarthy wasn’t anyone’s top choice of head coach, but he represented a change from Jason Garrett. Even if Dallas wasn’t going to make a run at the title, they surely had to be good enough to win the awful NFC East, right?
Through seven games, however, just about everything imaginable has gone wrong for the Cowboys. The defense is historically terrible; Dak Prescott is done for the season, and the offensive line is a mess. Anonymous reports of player discontent have leaked out, and Jerry Jones has already started gutting the roster. With half the season still to play, things will only keep getting uglier.
It doesn’t sound like Andy Dalton will play on Sunday
While Andy Dalton is still a step down from Dak Prescott, he has more than enough experience under his belt to step into the breach and do a job. In Week 8, however, the Dallas Cowboys probably won’t have the benefit of that experience.
According to Rob Phillips of DallasCowboys.com, the quarterback was still in concussion protocol as of Wednesday, October 28; Dalton had taken part in a team meeting, but Ben DiNucci was preparing to potentially make his first career start on Sunday.
When discussing DiNucci, head coach Mike McCarthy also shared another detail about Dalton’s timeline. Based on that comment, Sunday sounds like it will arrive a bit too soon.
“Ben’s been up here relentlessly here in the last 48 hours. He’s pouring everything that he personally can into this opportunity that may be in front of him,” McCarthy explained. “He’ll get pretty much all the work this week because I don’t see Andy coming back (until) at the end of the week at the earliest.”
As any veteran sports fan can tell you, concussions are infamously unpredictable; they can clear up in a matter of days for one person and weeks for another. While it’s possible that Andy Dalton will be ready to go on Sunday, not being cleared until the end of the week at the earliest is probably cutting things too close; unless everything goes perfectly, DiNucci will probably be under center.
Andy Dalton’s injury is another issue that the Dallas Cowboys don’t need
In theory, the Dallas Cowboys still have one lifeline: since the NFC East is so bad, they only need to string a few good weeks together to make a run at the playoffs. Andy Dalton’s injury, however, complicates that even more.
Assuming that Dalton can’t play on Sunday, the Cowboys will be playing Ben DiNucci, a rookie picked in the seventh round of the 2020 draft, behind a patchwork offensive line. It’s safe to say that’s not the ideal scenario going into a divisional game. A loss would drop Dallas to 2-6, putting them two losses behind the Eagles. While that’s far from an insurmountable deficit, two games will feel like a massive obstacle the way things are trending.
When a team is collapsing in real-time, they need something to go right; even if a single win doesn’t change the course of the season, it can stop the bleeding. With Andy Dalton out of the lineup, however, it doesn’t look like this Sunday will be the Dallas Cowboys day to turn things around.