The Eagles’ path to an NFC East championship is only getting easier and easier.
ESPN’s Todd Archer first reported on Wednesday that the Dallas Cowboys — the Eagles’ main competition for the divisional crown — will bench third-stringer Ben DiNucci for Sunday’s Week 9 tilt against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers.
Either Cooper Rush or Garrett Gilbert will get the nod instead.
DiNucci, a rookie taken in the seventh round out of James Madison, made his first-ever NFL start on Sunday night against the Eagles in Philadelphia where he completed 21-of-40 passes for 180 yards while getting sacked four times and losing two fumbles in the 23-9 loss. Dallas dropped to 2-5 while the Eagles improved to 3-4-1.
He was forced into the role after Andy Dalton was knocked out of the Cowboys’ Week 7 loss against the Washington Football Team, the victim of a dirty hit to the head while sliding from linebacker Jonathan Bostic.
The former Bengals starting quarterback signed on as Dak Prescott’s backup this season and was thrust under center after Dallas’ star passer’s gruesome leg injury suffered in Week 5 against the Giants. With Dalton under center, the Cowboys were thrashed by the Arizona Cardinals before leaving the 25-3 loss to Washington early, which ushered in DiNucci.
“Obviously [DiNucci’s] experience Sunday night, I think we all knew the facts going into it, the speed of the game, the challenges that were presented to him,” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said. “I just felt with the opponent that we’re playing, we need some more experience at that position.”
The issue with that sentiment is that both Rush and Gilbert have never started an NFL game before and have combined to attempt just nine passes in their respective pro careers.
Both quarterbacks, however, have spent more time around NFL teams, which apparently is giving them the edge over DiNucci. Gilbert has been bouncing around the NFL since 2014 while Rush has hung around since 2016.
“Garrett Gilbert has been here for a couple of weeks. He’s had a chance to play in preseason games and just has more experience,” McCarthy said. “And no different with Cooper. Cooper played last year, very familiar with the system. [Offensive coordinator] Kellen Moore has a lot of confidence there. So we’re going to go through the week and then make a decision.”