The Dallas Cowboys officially ruled Andy Dalton out for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles so it’ll be 2020 seventh-round rookie Ben DiNucci making his first NFL start at Lincoln Financial Field.
What is a Ben DiNucci, exactly? We asked that question to Blogging The Boys earlier this week:
We’d like to know that, too! Ben DiNucci is a seventh-round draft pick that was mostly a curiosity around Dallas since nobody expected him to ever get close to playing in an actual game this year. Dak Prescott had never missed a game prior to this year and even if he went down then Andy Dalton would take over. Given how the Cowboys 2020 season has gone, DiNucci starting a game is just par for the course. DiNucci started his college career at Pittsburgh until transferring to James Madison. He had a couple of big years at James Madison including a stellar senior season. He was highly rated for throwing the deep ball, but with the current Cowboys offensive line, having the time to throw deep seems unlikely. Mike McCarthy said they liked DiNucci’s accuracy when they drafted him and compared him to a young Marc Bulger.
DiNucci only played three snaps against Washington last week but the extremely small sample size didn’t yield a positive first impression. He looked frail and slow to process out there. BGN’s Michael Kist also noted as much on the latter point:
You can hear Cowboys QB Ben DiNucci thinking about his drop mechanics through the film, and then he's like "okay, top of the drop, set right, nailed it... now what?"— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) October 28, 2020
Failing to get the ball out quickly figures to be a big issue with the Eagles’ defensive line primed to take advantage of a weakened Cowboys offensive line.
“BuT DiNuCcI cOuLD bE tHe NeXt JoE WeBb!”
First of all, Webb didn’t even play that well against the Eagles! He completed 65% of his passes for 7.5 yards per attempt, 0 TD, 0 INT, and a 87.8 passer rating. He also ran six times for 31 yards and one score. Wow, truly amazing.
I’ll admit that Webb played well relative to incredibly low expectations. But the real issue in that 2010 Eagles loss to the Minnesota Vikings was Michael Vick turning the ball over three times. Also, this idea that Philly always gets killed by no-name quarterbacks is baseless, as my BGN Radio co-host Jimmy Kempski recently wrote about:
The Eagles have had great success against “no-name” QBs in each of the last four years. A quick list:
2020: Nick Mullens, 49ers, 2020. W, 25-20.
2019: Luke Falk, Jets: W, 31-6.
2018: Josh Johnson, Football Team. W, 24-0.
2017: C.J. Beathard, 49ers. W, 33-10.
You can feel free to join the chorus of Cowboys fans who will shove it in my face if I’m wrong about this ... but I really feel like the Eagles are going to destroy DiNucci on Sunday night. I truly think we’re looking at something that resembles how Falk got destroyed in Philly last year. I fully understand hesitancy about expecting the Eagles to look good but I don’t know how you can watch the Cowboys and not expect them to look awful.
We’ll note here that DiNucci’s backup is 29-year-old Garrett Gilbert, who originally entered the league as a sixth-round pick in 2014. He’s completed two of his six career attempts for 40 yards and a 57.6 passer rating. Gilbert’s also rushed three times for -3 yards.
Even more DiNucci analysis on this The QB Factory podcast episode: