Dallas Cowboys: 3 Things to look for in Ben DiNucci’s first start

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dallas Cowboys: Thing to look for No. 1

Pocket Presence / Elusiveness

In Ben DiNucci’s 15 snaps last week he went 2 for 3, gaining 39 yards and getting sacked three times at the cost of 25 yards. Thrust into a game long-lost, it was difficult to assess much of anything in DiNucci’s performance.

On one hand you had three sacks, which indicate a questionable pocket presence. On the other hand, you have an offensive line we readily admit is hot trash, and you have a rookie dropping back in obvious passing situations. To explain the point further – the Washington D-line knew the Cowboys were passing late in the game so they were able to pin their ears back and rush the QB with reckless abandon. Houdini couldn’t have escaped that pocket.

What we know going forward is the offensive line isn’t going to look much better this week. Yes, Zack Martin is expected to be back, but the same turnstiles will be playing bookend and the same Day 3 rookie will be learning on the fly at center. There will be pressure.

Adithya Prabakaran studied Ben’s tape this summer and made note of his mobility and pocket presence. Not only was he slippery in the pocket, but he was even a threat as runner, scampering for 1000 yards and 16 touchdowns over his two years at JMU.

Ezekiel Elliott recently mentioned DiNucci’s speed and athleticism and it’s not unrealistic to think the Dallas Cowboys are planning some zone read plays that could utilize said speed.

DiNucci isn’t a dink and dunk QB. He wants those plays down the field and isn’t afraid to sit in the pocket to let things develop. He’ll need to feel the pressure to survive. And he can’t afford to get sacked at the rate he did last week. Even more importantly, he can’t afford to turn the ball over when pressured, because this Dallas Cowboys team has shown zero ability in overcoming a negative turnover differential.