The Dallas Cowboys hold the dubious honor of rostering the league’s worst quarterback.
That is precisely how Ben DiNucci graded out, according to the minds behind the NFL.com QB Index, which ranked the 2020 seventh-round pick dead last among 59 signal-callers who started at least one game last season.
“In fairness to DiNucci — a seventh-round pick out of James Madison — he should never have been put in position to play as a rookie, but he was (a Week 8 start against the Eagles with Andy Dalton sidelined) and here we are,” wrote Dan Parr. “He finished the season with the fewest yards per attempt of any QB (min. 40 passes). He lost two fumbles against Philly and couldn’t lead Dallas on a TD drive. No one deserves to be last, but someone had to be. Sorry, Ben.”
In a season of pitfalls, DiNucci’s disastrous start against Philadelphia placed harrowingly low. Playing for the injured Andy Dalton, who was playing for the injured Dak Prescott, the James Madison product completed 21-of-40 passes for 180 scoreless yards (4.5 yards per attempt), taking four sacks and finishing with a minuscule 19.5 QBR amid an embarrasing 23-9 loss. His performance drew sharp criticism from team owner/general manager Jerry Jones, who picked apart DiNucci before re-parking him on the bench.
“I think that it was a lot for him. I think we certainly, as a team, paid the price to have him come in and under those circumstances. And that’s almost trite. It was frankly more than he could handle,” Jones admitted in November.
The Cowboys appear inclined to carry DiNucci into the 2021 offseason program, but his presence will not preclude the organization from upgrading the position with Prescott and Dalton both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next month.
It’s likely, however, that DiNucci has started his last game as a pro.
Follow the Heavy on Cowboys Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Dak, Dalton Rankings
For those curious, the QB Index ranked Prescott as the NFL’s No. 16 overall passer in 2020. The two-time Pro Bowler racked up 1,856 air yards and nine touchdowns before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5.
“Prescott was on pace to shatter the single-season passing yards record before a gruesome ankle injury robbed him of a chance to make history,” Parr wrote. “The small sample size is probably the only thing keeping him from ending up higher on this list.”
Dalton, meanwhile, ranked 25th. The ex-longtime Bengals starter appeared in 11 games (nine starts), completing 64.9% of his balls for 2,170 yards, 14 TDs, and eight interceptions, accumulating a 4-5 record and nearly leading the club to an improbable division crown.
“After a rough start to his fill-in role as the Cowboys’ QB1, which included expected growing pains and an unexpected battle with COVID-19, Andy Dalton helped steer the wayward Cowboys back into the NFC east race,” wrote Ali Bhanpuri. “Dallas went 4-3 from Weeks 11 to 17, when Dalton threw for the sixth most touchdowns (13) and the 11th most yards (1,718). He also posted the14th best passer rating (95.1) among the 30 QBs with at least 120 attempts during that span. Right back in the middle of the pack, where he belongs.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL