IRVING, Texas – Last season, the Cowboys faced several of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, including Peyton Manning and Drew Brees and were expected to play Aaron Rodgers as well.
Manning and Rodgers are not among this year’s quarterbacks on the Cowboys’ schedule, but there are plenty of other top-tier guys who will get their chance to face a defense that is looking to improve upon last season’s ranking of dead last in yards allowed.
So it’s not a list of the best quarterbacks in the league, but the best quarterbacks that the Cowboys will face in 2014.
The guys at Dallascowboys.com – Rowan Kavner, David Helman, Bryan Broaddus and Nick Eatman – composed the list, pinpointing only the 13 opponents on the schedule and, of course,
10. Blake Bortles – Yes, without even taking a snap from center, and even though he still has to win the job in Jacksonville, this staff sees him as a better quarterback than the Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jake Locker group that didn’t make the list. Considering Jacksonville plays Dallas in London in early November, it’s likely he will be starting and probably much-improved by the time of the game.
9. Carson Palmer – No, he’s not flashy anymore and it’s debatable if he ever was. But, he got the Cardinals’ offense on track last year and limits his mistakes so Arizona can lean on its defense. His veteran presence and experience has him on the list.
8. Robert Griffin III – He took a step back from last year’s ranking on this very list. But injuries at the start and end of last year were too much for RGIII to overcome. When healthy, he can be dynamic and it’s possible that the combination of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon can help elevate Griffin’s game once again.
7. Jay Cutler– The Cowboys were ripped by the Bears last December and Cutler didn’t even play. His backup, Josh McCown, torched the defense. But Cutler is capable of the same, especially with that group of receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Cutler’s issues have been injury-related, but he still has enough talent to produce at a high level.
6. Russell Wilson – Winning the Super Bowl didn’t exactly warrant a ton of love from the DC.com staff, but it did give him the nod over Cutler in a tiebreaker. Wilson certainly relies on a strong running game and a superb defense. But there’s something to be said for the guy who makes few mistakes and Wilson certainly does that well. He plays to his own strengths and has proven to be a perfect fit for that team.
5. Nick Foles – Ironically enough, Foles hasn’t really lit up the Cowboys in two games against them. In fact, he struggled mightily against Dallas in Philly before being knocked out of the game. Still, he put up some ridiculous numbers in Chip Kelly’s system and despite losing Jackson to the Redskins, look for Foles to get even better in 2014.
4. Eli Manning – His rankings were all over the map by the staff, as high as No. 2 overall and as low as No. 7. But Manning has proven to be pretty good against the Cowboys, even last year when he struggled overall statistically. There is a question mark about most of these quarterbacks on this list, and Manning is no different considering his 2013 woes. But he’s a proven winner and someone the Cowboys should always be concerned about.
3. Colin Kaepernick – He wins game. Kaepernick would be near the bottom of the list in terms of accuracy or mechanics, but he finds a way to win games in a variety of ways. The Cowboys will find out early about him when they square off with the 49ers in Week 1 at AT&T Stadium on Sept. 7.
2. Andrew Luck – Already one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, although he’s got his share of flaws as well. Luck has shown the ability to lead his team back in the fourth quarter, and if he can get a solid running game to compliment his passing attack, he will be even better this year.
1. Drew Brees – The easiest pick of the list this year. He’s been in a group of four quarterbacks for a few years now. But with Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady not on the Cowboys’ schedule, Brees is the surefire No. 1. Then again, considering how he ripped the Cowboys’ defense apart last year, he might get the top spot regardless. Brees and the Saints’ offense has typically given the Cowboys plenty of problems and with DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher and now