Could this be the season the Dallas Cowboys break their 25-year title-less drought? They’re a perenially trendy pick to win it at all, and a perennial disappointment, having failed to advance beyond the Divisional Round since 1995.
But the 2020 Cowboys just hit different, as the kids say — and as Andy Dalton echoed. The team’s No. 2 quarterback believes this outfit has a “realistic shot” of bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Big D.
“The roster is so talented. From top to bottom, there’s talent everywhere,” Dalton said in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated. “I think I saw something [that we have] 16 Pro Bowlers on this team. We have high expectations, and we should. That’s the thing right now; it’s training camp, everybody’s expectation is to win a Super Bowl. But we feel like we have a realistic shot at that and we’re going to do everything we can to get there.”
Dallas Cowboys, 2020-21 Super Bowl Champions?
"We feel we have a realistic shot at that."
— Bri Amaranthus (@BriAmaranthus) August 17, 2020
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Dalton earned a whopping $83,526,241 over his nine-year Cincinnati Bengals incumbency, so signing with the Cowboys wasn’t a financially-driven endeavor. He’s not expecting to leapfrog Dak Prescott for the starting job nor is he (outwardly) focused on unlocking an additional $4 million in playing-time incentives built into his one-year, $7 million deal.
Dalton was refreshingly honest from the moment pen touched paper. The 32-year-old, unceremoniously dumped by Cincinnati after a decade-long tenure, was attracted to the opportunity of rehabbing his stock (read: winning) with a flagship NFL franchise.
“I wanted to join a high-class organization and a team that’s ready to win, and be with Mike McCarthy, with his history with quarterbacks, it gives me a chance to come to a new place, a chance to learn, help Dak out any way I can, and just be an asset for this team,” Dalton told ESPN’s Adam Schefter in May. “Obviously, I bring a lot of experience and can bring a lot to the table, so I’m here to help this team win and help in any way I can. … This team is ready to win. I felt like it was the best opportunity for this year and hopefully it will set me up for my future. This was a big picture plan.”
Dalton has yet to waver on his wholeheartedly-supportive relationship with Prescott or his intention on returning to the starting ranks, somewhere, perhaps as soon as 2021. Definitely, if the Cowboys indeed scale football’s mountaintop.
Because that isn’t the goal — it’s the expectation inside The Star.
“If you’re not trying to win a Super Bowl, I don’t know what you’re even doing in this business,” McCarthy said Friday, via the team’s official website. “I think that’s what every team starts their offseason with. The ones that don’t talk about it are probably trying to under-promise, overachieve. But I’ve always been very upfront about it with every team I’ve ever coached. We’re in this to win a championship, make no bones about it.”
Video of Dalton Leading Dallas Offense [WATCH]
The team largely controls the dissemination of practice clips, and while this limits the public’s exposure, it’s enough to piece together what’s going down at Cowboys training camp.
Such as Dalton running the second-string offense during Tuesday’s session inside the Ford Center. WFAA’s Mike Leslie obtained video — courtesy of the Cowboys, naturally — showing the Red Rifle floating a deep out to tight end Cole Hikutini in 11-on-11 drills.
(VIdeo courtesy of Dallas Cowboys) pic.twitter.com/eltSsjUvDv
— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) August 18, 2020
Dalton, 33 in October, is the resident greybeard of a youthful QB stable that features Prescott (27), 2019 practice-squadder Clayton Thorson (24), and seventh-round rookie Ben DiNucci (23). And the value he provides has been on full display amid the infancy of camp.
“I really like what Andy brings to our football team,” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday, via RJ Ochoa of Blogging The Boys. “I think he’s an excellent addition to the quarterback room. I know I’ve spoken on it in the last couple of days, but it’s a quarterback room that’s going to produce a lot of great things. I’m confident in that.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL