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

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Michael Gallup, Wide Receiver (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Dallas Cowboys: Thing to look for No. 3


The Dallas Cowboys need Ben DiNucci to play with pocket presence and avoid the pressure that’s absolutely guaranteed to be there early and often. And they need him to play in the moment and go through progressions to find the open man. But they can’t afford him to do all of that at the cost of downfield aggressiveness.

The temptation is there for replacement QBs to overemphasize “not screwing up”. Instead of playing to win, they play, to not lose. The Dallas Cowboys don’t want Ben DiNucci to do this.

DiNucci’s impressive college completion percentage indicate he’s someone who takes what’s given to him and doesn’t force things downfield if it’s not there. But his film indicates he has natural aggressiveness and isn’t afraid to thread the needle.

Last season DiNucci completed 70 of his passes for an average of 9.1 yards per attempt. This tells us he’s accurate AND aggressive.

We saw an example of this last Sunday when one of DiNucci’s two completed passes went for 32-yards. Something Sport DFW writer Danny Hill pointed out in his brilliant piece this week, is the Dallas Cowboys offense was averaging 5 explosive plays per week in Dak’s starts, but only 1.5 per game since. DiNucci made one of them last week. That’s reason for optimism.

The Dallas Cowboys have three deadly big-play weapons in Michael Gallup, Amari Cooper, and CeeDee Lamb. They have to find a way to target them downfield. That’s not to say the Cowboys can afford to neglect the short game, it just means they can’t ignore the plays deep.

Early down passes will be Ben DiNucci’s best opportunity to deliver explosive plays downfield. He won’t have time in the pocket on obvious passing situations and needs to avoid 3rd down passing situations like the plague.

Dallas Cowboys must fight temptation

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The temptation is there to Feed Zeke early. But that only forces a rookie QB into an inflated number of third down situations. The temptation is there to simplify reads and predetermine his targets. But opponents will be savvy to that and will bait him by disguising coverages. The temptation is there to take high percentage passes and avoid high risk plays. But the strength of the offense is downfield and opportunities will be there for him if he plays aggressively.

Ben DiNucci is facing a tall order and an uphill battle but he needs to be allowed to lean on his strengths and can’t afford to play scared. With any luck we’ll all see that swagger we’ve heard so much about and walk away feeling like we have a diamond in the rough rather than just another gun-shy back-up.

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So there’s a little about what to expect from Ben DiNucci and what the Dallas Cowboys need to see from Ben DiNucci. What do you think? Think he has what it takes to overcome all of these obstacles?