Ranking the 14 starting QBs the Cowboys will face in 2023

The quarterback position is the most important in the NFL. Nothing sways the Vegas lines like the dropoff from a starter to a backup and for good reason. Top QBs allow mediocre teams to be competitive, good supporting casts to be great and great rosters to be significant contenders for years on end.

So how do the quarterbacks the Dallas Cowboys face in 2023 stack up? There’s a wide array of QB talent on the schedule, and while the onus won’t completely fall on Dan Quinn’s defense to corral them, it certainly will be a major factor each week. Here’s a look at the pecking order of opposing signal callers.

Sam Howell: Week 12 & 18

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There is just too much unknown about the former fifth-round pick of the Washington Commanders to put him anywhere higher than last on this list. He can move up quickly if he plays well once he gets the chance, but going into 2023 Howell is the bottom of the totem poll.

Mac Jones: Week 4

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Mac Jones had a surprising rookie season that gave many hope he could develop into the next Tom Brady. Unfortunately, a sophomore slump has everybody wondering if Jones is even the QB of the future for the Patriots. Regardless of if it is Jones, or a different QB on the roster, the New England quarterback would land right around here on this list.

Bryce Young: Week 11

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Like Howell, Bryce Young is an unknown, but there are levels. Young was the first overall pick in the draft and is expected to be a great QB in the future. He can’t be ranked above many more experienced players, but his lack of playing time doesn’t put him last either.

Kyler Murray: Week 3

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Murray might have plenty of success against the Cowboys, but overall, his career has taken a turn in recent seasons. Murray had the lowest QB rating of his career last season and his worse touchdown to interception ratio since his rookie campaign.

It’s not likely Murray even plays in Week 3 due to his ACL recovery. If Colt McCoy starts, he slots at the bottom of this list.

Brock Purdy: Week 5

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San Francisco wins by leading with their defense and rushing attack, but they went to another level offensively when Brock Purdy went under center last season. He is a careful, precise quarterback who is in the most QB-friendly system seen in a generation. However his overall talent was limited as a rookie, so based on that, he still falls towards the bottom of the exercise.

Jared Goff: Week 17

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Once considered a complete bust as the top selection of the 2016 draft, Jared Goff has shown he can lead a team to wins in the right situation. He has been to a Super Bowl under Sean McVay, and after a couple of down seasons, reemerged with the Lions last year. Throwing for almost 4,500 yards, with 29 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, Goff could be living up to his draft selection many years ago.

Tua Tagovailoa: Week 16

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When Tua Tagovailoa was healthy, the Miami Dolphins were 8-5 and he was lighting up defenses with his main receiving threat Tyreek Hill. In those 13 games he threw for over 3,500 yards and 25 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. His QB rating and QBR both exploded last season by 15 and 20 points respectively. The Dolphins offense is loaded and if Tagovailoa can stay healthy, he could be an MVP candidate.

Daniel Jones: Week 1 & 10

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Going into the 2022 season the Giants had declined the fifth-year option of Daniel Jones, and he looked like a bust in his last season with the team. New head coach Brian Daboll led Jones to an incredible turn around last season though. He went from a turnover machine who was more of a scrambling threat than passing weapon, to a solid thrower of football.

Geno Smith: Week 13

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In the six seasons prior to last year, Geno Smith threw for a combined 1,346 yards and nine touchdowns. He was relegated to a backup quarterback role after an inglorious time as a starter to begin his career. He got a shot with the Seattle Seahawks after they traded away former Super Bowl winning QB Russell Wilson, and he shattered the highest expectations. He looked like prime Wilson, throwing for over 4,000 yards and a nearly 3:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Matt Stafford: Week 8

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Matt Stafford was easily the toughest QB to rank thanks to his big arm and terrific statistics, plus he recently lead his team to a Super Bowl victory in a season with nearly 5,000 yards and over 40 touchdown passes. On the other hand, he is a turnover machine, couldn’t find much success prior to 2021, and is coming off of an injury that ended a hideous campaign after nine games. Before the injury Stafford had his lowest QB rating in seven years and only ten touchdowns to eight interceptions. If he hit his cliff, he could tumble down this list quickly.

Justin Herbert: Week 6

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Justin Herbert is the newer version of Matt Stafford so far in his career. He has the pre-draft talent evaluators look for, he puts up monster numbers, but he doesn’t win as many games as people believe he should with the talent on his team. Statistically Herbert regressed last season, but he was playing through major injuries to himself and many offensive teammates. Look for Herbert to throw for another 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns, but will the team win games at a rate that matches those numbers?

Josh Allen: Week 15

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Josh Allen has been a consistently great QB for the last three years. He will throw for around 4,500 yards, 35 touchdowns while rushing for over 700 yards and six scores if he is healthy. The only thing holding him back is his interceptions and inability to get pass Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs.

Aaron Rodgers: Week 2

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Aaron Rodgers had a very down year for him last season and could definitely be put behind Josh Allen going into 2023. If he stayed in Green Bay with their lack of receivers and a not-so-great offensive line, he might have. With the Jets though, he is expected to return to form. He has a few of his guys from the Packers to help him transition to the new team, plus offensive rookie of the year Garrett Wilson, and a defense that should get him the ball back often.

Jalen Hurts: Week 9 & 14

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Jalen Hurts was a second team All Pro last season for a reason. He missed two games with an injury and still threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. He added 760 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground as well. His critics will say his offense has great players everywhere, but that loaded offense is returning in 2023, so Hurts should have no reason to be any worse this season. Rodgers and Allen have done it more than a single year, but there is no fair way to deny Hurts’ performance last season.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire