The Cowboys have completed their OTAs and minicamp practices. The offseason is history. Training camp in Oxnard is up next in late July.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – are attempting to answer 20 pressing questions as the team gets ready for camp and the 2016 season.
Today, our staff continues the series focusing on whether the Cowboys improved their backup quarterback situation after losing 11 of 12 games last season while Tony Romo was injured.
No. 5) Did This Team Improve At Backup Quarterback?
David Helman: Simply put, no. How could anyone argue that they have when the projected backup is the same guy that finished last season? Kellen Moore showed a few flashes last year during his audition as the backup, but I don't think it was nearly enough to be given the backup quarterback job. Now, you might tell me that Dak Prescott is going to push for that position – but let's be realistic. A fourth-round rookie is not going to beat a five-year veteran who has extensive experience in Scott Linehan's offense. So that leaves Moore as the guy in charge if Tony Romo goes down again, and – no offense to Moore – I'm just not sure that's good enough. Obviously the free agent market for quarterbacks wasn't outstanding. But there were guys the Cowboys could have gone after. Chase Daniel and Matt Moore both would have been upgrades over the current situation, in my humble opinion. The Cowboys clearly disagreed, and only time will tell if that works out for them. Hopefully Romo will stay healthy in 2016 and this will be a moot point, but it certainly doesn't look encouraging on paper.
Bryan Broaddus:If there was a mistake by this front office and coaching staff, I believe that Kellen Moore should have played earlier. His first start against Buffalo was not good but I did like what I saw from him against a Washington defense that was playing well down the stretch. In my opinion if Moore could have started two more games, we might have a different view about his ability, either good or bad. By not playing him earlier, there are still those questions if he really is the right guy for the job and that situation doesn't give me much comfort. I want to believe in Kellen Moore but I can also understand why there are people within the organization that are split on his ability. But they have no one to blame but themselves in being in this situation.
Rob Phillips: Moore enters training camp as the clear favorite for the No. 2 quarterback spot, and based on his three appearances at the end of last season, yes – he was more productive than the original backups. The question is, is Moore enough of an improvement? Depends on how much he can improve, and honestly, the Cowboys hope they never have to find out in a regular-season game. Romo had a very productive offseason after opting for the Mumford procedure in March to help reduce the chances of another collarbone injury. He says his back continues to feel stronger the further removed he is from his late-2013 surgery. But the Cowboys know they simply can't afford to play .09-percent football if Romo were to ever miss time again – meaning winning 1 in 12 games without him again. The offense finally got moving a little with Moore as the replacement starter, and he does have a comfort level with Linehan's offense. The main concern would be his six interceptions in those three appearances. Everyone says Moore doesn't have ideal height or arm strength; well, in that case, he can't put himself in bad situations by forcing plays downfield. The preseason will be valuable for him.
Nick Eatman:From the looks of things, no. At least not for 2016. All the Cowboys did was keep a player on the roster that has yet to win a game as a starter in this league. Now, I don't want to bash on Kellen Moore because I think he will improve with a full offseason under his belt. He's got some tools to work with and 400-yard passing games aren't that common so it's something to build on. But, drafting Prescott doesn't really fix anything this year. If anything, it requires them to keep three quarterbacks on the roster and go lighter somewhere else. We don't know if Moore will be any better at all. And we don't know if he'll be needed to play. The hope is that no one ever sees the backup quarterback other than a blowout win. So it might not matter at all. But it certainly mattered last year and it caused the Cowboys to have one of the worst seasons in franchise history.