(Editor's Note: The DallasCowboys.com team welcomes Bucky Brooks to the staff. Bucky brings a wealth of experience, not only as a former NFL player of five seasons, but also as a scout and on the pro personnel side for two teams. In the last decade, Brooks has worked in the media, including the NFL Network. Bucky will provide his own analysis and opinions of the Cowboys but also the entire NFL. Today, he breaks down free-agent signing Andy Dalton.)
- Name: Andy Dalton
- College: TCU
- Position: QB
- Height: 6-2
- Weight: 220
- Season: 10th
- Games Studied: 2019 Bengals vs. NY Jets, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers
Dalton is a veteran quarterback with the skills, experience, and management skills to be an effective QB1 with a strong supporting cast. The 10th-year pro has compiled a 70-61-2 career record as a starter (133 games) while posting a 62% completion rate, 204:118 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and 87.5 passer rating for his career. He's led his teams to four playoff appearances and has 24 game-winning drives, including 20 fourth-quarter comebacks on his resume.
Dalton is best characterized as a high-IQ game manager with the leadership skills, situational awareness, and passing ability to win games with a strong supporting cast.
As a quick-rhythm passer with a quick release and a knack for consistently hitting the strike zone, he can connect the dots in the passing game on an assortment of short- and intermediate throws. Dalton is most efficient and effective on passes directed between the numbers, particularly on slants or digs. He not only displays excellent timing and anticipating hitting receivers coming out of their breaks but he can rev up the RPMs on his throws to squeeze the ball into tight windows. Despite displaying B/B-plus arm talent/arm strength, Dalton routinely fires darts on in-breaking routes to receivers working away from tight coverage. He has more than enough velocity to make all of the throws required in most offenses, including a version of the West Coast Offense that features a number of rhythm throws.
As a passer, Dalton operates well out of the shotgun. He is at his best throwing "catch, rock and fire" passes to the perimeter, which enables him to get the ball out of his hands quickly and into the hands of dangerous playmakers on the perimeter. Dalton also throws a catchable back-shoulder fade along the boundary, particularly to long, rangy receivers with the ability to snatch 50-50 balls away from defenders. With the veteran also showing the ability to drop the ball into the bucket to slot receivers on inside fades, he has enough pitches in his repertoire to punish defenses for bringing pressure or playing tight man coverage.
Dalton's ball-handling skills, quick feet, and athleticism make him an effective playmaker off play-action. He does a good job of selling the run with extended fakes before setting up quickly and firing darts to receivers on digs or comebacks. Although Dalton is comfortable and experienced playing in a traditional offense (under center) with play-action passes featured prominently, his game is ideally suited to a shotgun-oriented offense.
From a critical standpoint, Dalton struggles when he is unable to play on schedule. He becomes an erratic throw when the pocket collapses and he lacks the explosive athleticism and creativity to make plays on the move. If opponents are able to create persistent pressure within the pocket, particularly up the gut, Dalton has a tough time evading the rush and delivering accurate passes.
At this stage of his career, the veteran needs rock-solid protection in front of him and dynamic pass catchers on the perimeter to be effective. Dalton can win as a pass-first point guard on a team loaded with talent but he lacks the special abilities to elevate the performance of an average squad with limited firepower.
- Experienced quarterback with a winning pedigree
- Accurate, quick-rhythm passer with consistent ball placement and accuracy
- Outstanding game management skills and situational awareness
- Team-oriented leader
- B/B+ Arm Talent
- Erratic thrower from a muddy pocket
- Limited improvisational playmaking ability
- How does he fit in with the Cowboys?
Dalton is a high-end backup quarterback with the potential to be an effective QB1 with a strong supporting cast. The 10th-year pro gives the Cowboys a capable fill-in for Dak Prescott if No.4 is sidelined due to injury or other circumstances. Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore can run the offense as planned with minimal restrictions or tweaks with Dalton in the lineup and sustain a playoff run with the veteran installed at quarterback for an extended period during the regular season.