The Dallas Cowboys might not have accomplished a lot in 2015, but they did discover that Kellen Moore can play football and could backup Tony Romo next season.
The story seems as old as dirt itself.
While there’s some positives to take from such a lousy season, such as the fourth-overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft in April, there’s also the possibility that the Cowboys have actually found at least the short-term future at the backup quarterback position. This happens despite rampant speculation that owner and general manager Jerry Jones will seek to add another veteran for another team during the offseason.
At this point, the rumored links between Cleveland Browns reject Johnny Manziel would seem to be over. Even Manziel’s own father can’t be certain exactly how much longer his son will be alive. When you consider that compelling statement, it’s a more than safe bet that Manziel isn’t the guy to line up the Cowboys offense next season.
No sooner did Manziel fall off Dallas radar than another name exploded as an apparent default acquisition for the Cowboys – Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins.
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Next to Manziel, Griffin has been the most rumored veteran quarterback with starting experience to be linked to the Cowboys, especially in the wake of Redskins starting quarterback Kirk Cousins leading this miserable franchise to its eighth NFC East championship and just its second since winning its last Super Bowl following the 1991 regular season.
Yes, Griffin, just like Manziel, will be playing football elsewhere next season and beyond – of course, Manziel might not ever find his way onto an NFL roster ever again.
It seems to me that the best option of all, at least concerning backup quarterbacks, would be Kellen Moore, the former Boise State star that’s never found a niche as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Having arrived in Dallas after the 2015 season had already begun, Moore still outplayed bench-warming predecessors Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden, neither of whom were ever able to generate the kind of yardage necessary to win football games.
Moore offered a different kind of performance entirely.
No, Moore wasn’t perfect. He tossed too many interceptions and definitely showed the fact that he doesn’t have the biggest arm in the league. Moore doesn’t have very good height for the position and his mobility, while decent, will never be confused with a player like Michael Vick or Randall Cunningham.
Having said that, Moore was able to do something that Cassel and Weeden couldn’t do.
Moore hit Dallas wide receivers 18 times during a season-ending loss to the Redskins at AT&T Stadium. Normally the No.2 receiver, Terrance Williams caught eight passes for 173 yards in a game in which the Washington defense played a downhill contest. In other words, the ‘Skins knew the pass was coming for most of this game and still couldn’t prevent Moore from chalking up 435 yards passing while going 33-for-48.
No, there was no Dez Bryant there to take pressure off of other targets either.
The week prior, Moore hit Williams and late-arriving wideout Brice Butler for a combined eight catches for 136 yards in another losing effort in Buffalo against the Bills.
The question here isn’t whether or not Moore led the Cowboys to victories in his first appearances and/or starts in the NFL last season. The goal for the Cowboys is to determine whether or not there are any better options than Moore.
According to some, Moore might be about as good as the Cowboys can find. I tend to agree, and part of my reasoning is the realization that Moore has something to prove, at least more to prove in terms of whether or not he should even be in the NFL. This former college star was just given the chance to play in regular season football games at the end of last season. Whether it be as a starter or backup, he’s still riding an upward wave and I think this is a good quality in a backup.
Like Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, Moore is likely a career backup quarterback in the NFL. This does not, however, mean that he can’t win a handful of games in the event that a starter, like Romo, goes down for an extended period of time.
I’ve never liked paying aging veteran quarterbacks on the backside of their careers to hold a clipboard, especially not for the money they earn with that kind of seniority. At the end of the day, if your starter goes down then you’ve got far greater issues than who’s backing him up, like why he’s in harms way in the first place.
For the Cowboys, Moore represents a player with some youth and a funny ‘x-factor’ that doesn’t come with a heavy price tag for the next year or two. Considering how Moore might play after getting a full offseason with the Cowboys and then having a healthy offense at his disposal is critical for a Dallas franchise that needs as much in the way of financial resources as possible to rebound from a miserable 4-12 campaign.
Moore will be ahead of all other contenders for the backup job with the Cowboys, and that includes other possibilities like Colt McCoy. He’s been in the system, he’s intelligent and he has a history of making plays no matter who his teammates are at a given point in time. As the Cowboys know, this isn’t the easiest thing to find, yet they’ve probably already found it.