The Dallas Cowboys are quickly turning into a three-ring circus, one where the owner yells at sports talk radio hosts and the head coach throws his own players under the bus. It’s gone from an amusingly fun sideshow to burn it all down in a hurry.
Yet they remain in a tight race for first place in the dismal NFC East and look to beat the Eagles this week with a rookie quarterback at the helm. His name is Ben DiNucci, a seventh-rounder and Pennsylvania native. He’ll likely be forced into action since backup Andy Dalton hasn’t been cleared from concussion protocol. Dak Prescott was lost for the season on Oct. 11 after suffering a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle.
So the Cowboys are turning to a kid who has attempted three career passes in the NFL. The Eagles might be licking their chops behind closed doors, but they won’t admit it publicly. They intend to treat DiNucci like the second coming of Troy Aikman.
“You can’t take no one for a slouch,” cornerback Avonte Maddox told reporters. “And we’re ready for anything thrown at us. He can use his legs and he can make throws. Ben DiNucci is an NFL quarterback. He was drafted in the seventh round.”
Maddox will be making his first start since Week 2 after sitting out due to a twisted ankle. The fourth-round pick declared himself “ready to play” and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz confirmed Maddox is his starting cornerback when healthy. He played just three snaps last week while serving in an emergency role, mostly on special teams.
“I feel much better this week,” Maddox said. “I feel great. I’m always ready to play.”
— Michael Greger (@mike_greger) October 29, 2020
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Eagles Watched DiNucci Tape, Scouts Know QB
The Eagles are very familiar with DiNucci and their Midwest scout, Jim Ward, kept tabs on the 23-year-old when he was playing college ball at Pittsburgh. DiNucci later transferred to James Madison where he threw for 2,275 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior.
But Schwartz revealed that he knew about DiNucci going back to his high school days at Pine-Richland in Gibsonia, PA. The Eagles spent this past Monday looking at his game tape and preparing for the Cowboys.
#Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy told reporters that QB Andy Dalton participated in the QB meeting, but won’t practice. It appears, based on where he is in the protocol, that Dalton is unlikely to play this Sunday. Ben DiNucci has received all the first-team reps.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 29, 2020
“Actually, saw him when he was a high school player. Just those kind of inputs and that kind of perspective helps us,” Schwartz told reporters. “Anybody that makes an NFL team is good enough to play, so I think you start there. That’s going to get your respect right away.”
DiNucci went 2-of-3 for 39 yards (66.7%) last week in mop-up duty versus Washington. He was also sacked three times and ran for his life behind Dallas’ porous, banged-up offensive line.
Cowboys ‘Best WR Corps’ Faced This Year
The Cowboys potent triumvirate of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb will be the “best receiving corps” the Eagles have faced this year, according to Maddox. The starting corner praised all three guys for being triple threats: explosive, fast, great hands. It’s going to be a tough assignment to cover them no matter who is playing quarterback.
“Looking at the receiving corps, it might be the best receiving corps that we faced this year,” Maddox said. “They got guys that can make plays … they got guys that can do it all. This is a challenge for us to keep these guys no touchdowns and under 100 yards.”
.@Eagles @bigplay24slay is watching every route that @dallascowboys @AmariCooper9 has run this season in advance of @SNFonNBC. Film Junkie; total student of the game. #FlyEaglesFly #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/aE6hQiNOni
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) October 28, 2020
Maddox went on to say the Eagles will be ready for the challenge. The expectation is that Darius Slay will travel with Cooper, the Cowboys’ Pro Bowl receiver and top target. That leaves Maddox to stick with either Lamb or Gallup.
“If they want Slay to be on someone then I just to be able to make that adjustment and we’re always communicating out on the field,” Maddox said. “I’m watching as they break the huddle. Slay is watching as well and wherever Slay goes, I just know I go the opposite of him.”
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