Dallas Cowboys: Downgrading at QB is not a logical plan

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott remain at an impasse in their contract negotiations. Cowboys Nation has too much time on their hands. The combination of these two storms has produced anything but “perfect” results.

Suddenly “life without Dak” is gaining traction in some Cowboys fan circles, despite having just experienced that nightmare scenario as recently as last season. Whether it’s trading Dak for a more affordable veteran like Matthew Stafford, or replacing Prescott with a rookie, it all effectively achieves the same thing…

It downgrades the Dallas Cowboys’ most important position.

The pathway to success for the Dallas Cowboys is NOT downgrading at the most important position in sports.

How important is the quarterback in today’s NFL?

It’s the only position that can singlehandedly save or sink a franchise. Look at the best teams in the NFL and the common denominator is almost always a franchise signal caller. Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule, but more often than not, it’s the QB who’s the difference between being a contender or a pretender.

Dallas has to improve on defense, but it cannot come at the expense of the most important player in the passing offense.

The NFL is a passing league. It’s been that way for nearly three decades. The average passing play produces over four times the expected points than that of the running game. In fact, when we remove garbage time, there were only six teams in the entire league last season that produced a positive EPA (expected points added).

That’s 26 teams who hurt their scoring chances (net loss) when they ran the ball last year. Dallas was one of the biggest offenders, finishing 27th in EPA per rush, with a -0.155 rushing EPA (yes, that number is negative).

The team with the better passing game wins at a higher rate than teams who are more efficient elsewhere. Not only that, but offensive passing efficiency is also the most stable week-to-week and year-to-year, making it a great area to invest heavily in for short-term and long-term success.

Sometimes the stars align and the perfect roster is built so a franchise talent isn’t needed (San Fran ’19 comes to mind), but that’s certainly not the norm and not a model to copy.

Build up the defense?

The idea that spending less on a quarterback in order to spend more at other positions, is nothing new. But its embrace as the preferable pathway to success is misleading some otherwise very intelligent Dallas Cowboys fans.

If you’ve fallen for the idea that spending +20% of your cap space to retain your franchise signal caller somehow prevents you from winning, please read this: You can pay a QB AND win the Super Bowl. 

Defense doesn’t win championships. There’s a correlation, sure, and defenses help considerably, but since they are natural victims of “single point failure (all it takes is one weak link)”, they are naturally unstable. And in the age of free agency, they are almost impossible to keep together (see also The Legion of Boom).

Under no circumstance can the Dallas Cowboys roll out the same mess they did last year and expect to compete. The 40-burger offense is a great idea but it won’t be worth jack-squat if you still have a 41-burger defense.

Dallas has to improve on defense, that much is clear. It just cannot, under any circumstances, come at the expense of the most important player in the passing offense. Besides, as Sport DFW’s Dan Ruppert just pointed out, “The Cowboys don’t spend their cap space anyway.”

Replacing Dak Prescott is a poor way to improve the Dallas Cowboys

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Before he was injured, Dak led the top passing offense in the NFL. And he did it behind a terrible offensive line, an inept running game (with a case of “the fumbles”), and without his top pass-catching tight end. Before that – late in the 2019 season, Dak was second only to Russell Wilson in WAR (wins above replacement), making him one of the most irreplaceable players in the league, playing in the top producing offense in the league, manning the most valuable position in the league.

There’s no position more important in professional football (and possibly all of professional sports) than the quarterback position. There’s a reason franchise QBs get paid 25+ percent more than any other position on the team. They are that much more important. And there’s a reason franchise QBs are never allowed to reach free agency. They’re too dang important.

So why exactly are we trying to downgrade at QB?

Must Read. Can Dallas find a good CB later in the draft?. light

With all of this said, if the Dallas Cowboys do not have a multi-year agreement in place by April 29th, they will need to think long and hard about the QB position in the Draft. They can’t afford to let Dak play on the tag again in 2022 because if they can’t sign him before next season, they’ll most assuredly lose him.

Next. Cowboys 7-round Mock Draft: If Dak is still unsigned.... dark

Downgrading the QB position to free up money to spend elsewhere is a bad strategy. The Dallas Cowboys should be willing to pay the most money to the most important position in football.

  • Published on 01/28/2021 at 13:25 PM
  • Last updated at 01/28/2021 at 15:21 PM