(At long last, the NFL season is in sight. After a long offseason, the Cowboys are set to depart for training camp on July 24. During this final month before they begin practice in Oxnard, Calif., the staff of DallasCowboys.com is going to preview the 20 biggest questions facing the Cowboys heading into 2018.)
FRISCO, Texas – Ok so this year's schedule doesn't have two of the all-time great quarterbacks on it with Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady.
There's still some great ones the Cowboys will face, including two that have won the NFL MVP and four others who have led their teams to a Super Bowl title.
Each and every week, the Cowboys' defense will have its hands full. But just which quarterback will be the most challenging for the Cowboys to stop?
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com also ranked the Top 10 quarterbacks on the 2018 schedule, including the Cowboys' own starter in Dak Prescott. Find out where Dak ranks among the 10 best who will be on the field during the upcoming regular season.
13 – Who's the most challenging quarterback on the schedule?
Bryan Broaddus: It's quite impressive group when you run down through the schedule but the one that always scares me the most is Drew Brees. Brees has always played at an elite level but now he has some serious offensive weapons in Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. For years, one of the biggest challenges for Sean Payton was to build a team around Brees where they didn't have to rely on his arm to win every game. Now the Saints are a much more balanced team offensively. Opponents are now forced to defend the run instead of creating coverage and blitz packages to stop Brees. With this new found balance, it has allowed Brees to operate in a system where he can attack defenses with more play action passes which has allowed Thomas to see more single coverage. Brees is throwing the ball far less but he's making opposing defenses pay with the results.
Mickey Spagnola: If history means anything, then hands down, the Cowboys will most struggle with Drew Brees. They seemingly always have, win or lose, and the Saints QB is 5-3 against the Cowboys during his illustrious career and sure doesn't seem to be slowing down at age 39, especially now with the threat of Alvin Kamara in the backfield of last year's No. 2 offense. Just consider this, in eight games against the Cowboys Brees is 232 for 336 (69 percent), 2,780 yards, 20 TDs and just 5 INTs – a QB rating of 107.7. That averages out over eight games to 29 of 42 for 347.5 yards. 'Nuff said.
Nick Eatman: I think Brees and Matt Ryan are two of the best in the league and obviously that will be a challenge because they can just pass their teams over the top in a crunch. But I'll throw out a wild card. That Oct. 7 matchup in Houston could be a real Texas shootout and a fun game to watch. Deshaun Watson should be fully recovered from a season-ending injury last year and he has the ability to just take over games with his arms and legs. We've seen Dak do the same things as well. So Watson could be a guy that poses a unique challenge to the Cowboys defense on the national stage.
Rob Phillips:The simple fact that we built a Top 10 list around this topic (counting Dak) makes it a great question. It's hard to go against Brees given his entire body of work, but I'll take Russell Wilson based on his overall versatility. The Cowboys did a solid job against him last Christmas Eve (14 of 21, 93 yards, 2 touchdowns; 9 carries, 29 yards) but he made some key throws to put that game away. He puts such a strain on a defense play after play with his ability to scramble and buy time in the pocket. Other quarterbacks on the schedule do that, too, but Wilson's efficiency is the difference for me. Last year: nearly 4,000 passing yards, over 500 rushing yards, and 34 touchdown passes to only 11 interceptions.