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Eatman: QB & RB Backup Spots Seem Settled; But Not Sure They Should Be
LOS ANGELES – We get asked questions all the time about what the Cowboys are going to do at all the positions.
And there’s always two answers. What should they do and what will they do.
There’s a big difference there, and we’re starting to see it in a couple of areas already. You’ll see it a lot more as we get closer to the regular season.
But while you probably watched Saturday’s game with the Rams and wondered out loud if both Kellen Moore and Darren McFadden are indeed the next-in-line players at their respective positions, it doesn’t really matter.
Sure, the Cowboys could probably give them more competition for these backup spots. But don’t expect that to happen. The facts remain: The Cowboys want Moore to be their backup, and they want McFadden to be the No. 2, especially now that he will likely be starting with Ezekiel Elliott suspended for six games. Regardless of what happens with an appeal, Zeke will probably miss some games at some point, so the backup spot here is obviously crucial.
Trust me, if anyone knows me and my love for Arkansas football, they should know how much I admire McFadden and his game. He’s one of my favorite players to ever suit up. But I don’t know if he is the best option as a starter if Zeke is out. It’s not that Alfred Morris is clearly better. It’s that McFadden would handle a backup/third-down role much better than Morris, who isn’t a polished pass-catcher or blocker, but he might be a better straight-line runner.
We saw last year just how much this organization cherishes McFadden, who was held on the roster all year despite his elbow injury and the fact the team was stocked with running backs.
McFadden showed some juice Saturday night on a couple of runs. He can still stick that foot in the ground and burst. But if he’s your starter, I think you eliminate your depth with Morris not being able to help as much. McFadden, on the other hand, has split carries his entire career, even when he was a two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up, sharing reps with Felix Jones. Remember him?
But one thing looked pretty clear here Saturday night: The Cowboys made sure to see what they’ve got in McFadden, who took all of the reps until he was pulled late in the first half.
Now let’s get to quarterback. Last week, I sat up there in Canton and wrote about how Kellen Moore wasn’t spectacular, but definitely looked the part of a backup quarterback.
But that wasn’t the case here on this night – one that saw him play behind mostly offensive line starters, except for Tyron Smith, who doesn’t even protect his blind side anyway.
I’m not even getting into what Cooper Rush was able to do (completing his first eight passes with a beautiful touchdown strike to Rico Gathers) because even if he’s impressing us all, he won’t be competing for a backup spot right now.
And if you ask the coaches and front office staff, there isn’t a competition at all. Moore is the guy and has been ever since last season. We know how much offensive coordinator Scott Linehan likes him and even Jerry Jones said two weeks ago that there is no interest in signing the you-know-who veteran quarterback because of what they have in Moore.
But there should be some doubt after Saturday. Sure, the starters were mostly out but not on the O-line. Moore had plenty of guys up front to help him, and he really didn’t take advantage. No, there weren’t a lot of first-team skill players, but he wasn’t facing many either.
Still, there shouldn’t be an excuse for that kind of outing. He completed 8-of-17 passes for 69 yards, and most of that came after the catch on check-down throws. Not only that, he wasn’t too mobile in the pocket, and he barely even looked down the field.
For everything he showed us in the first game, Moore failed to deliver in this second one.
All you can do is hope the backup position isn’t needed, but history suggests that it usually is.
The Cowboys have plenty of questions to answer, although it doesn’t seem like their backup spots at quarterback and running back are on the list.
But maybe they should be. Read