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This is part one of a series analyzing each position on the field for the Dallas Cowboys.
The most storied and critiqued position in all of football is the quarterback. Chances are, if you are playing that position for the Dallas Cowboys everything you do, whether positive or negative, will be thrown under the microscope and magnified. There is a lot of pressure for anyone playing this position and a player can only improve with experience. The Cowboys saw not only their back-up, but their third-string quarterback take snaps this year and we saw some positives from both.
We will start things off with the starter, Tony Romo. Before being injured in week 7, Romo surely wasn’t on his way to one of his better seasons. Throwing 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions is anything but impressive. Many people blame it on play-calling as then Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett had Romo attempting more than 40 passes three times out of those first six games. That means he was on pace to throw over 568 passes, a career high.
Going into the 2010 season the Cowboys organization had high hopes for Romo who had a career low in interceptions the year before. Nothing should change going into next season. Romo turns 31 in April, which means his window to become an elite quarterback and win a Super Bowl is may slowly be closing. Knowing the history of Jerry Jones, if you aren’t winning your job isn’t safe. This upcoming season will almost be a make or break year for Romo. He has had opportunities and Romo can only hope that with all the extra time off that he improves his mentality of the game and continues to cut down on mistakes and turnovers. Little does he know, there may be someone looking over his shoulder.
Jon Kitna had a great season as far as back-ups go, but he isn’t the one looking over Romo’s shoulder (we will get to that later). He did everything a back-up is supposed to and more at times. But there were also times where Kitna showed why he isn’t a starter. Through ten games he had 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He wasn’t explosive, but it was obvious he became comfortable in the offense as the season drew on and proved he is a reliable back-up. Kitna had four 300-plus yard passing games and was 4-5 as a starter. With his performance he definitely proved his worth in the league for a couple more years and is someone the Cowboys now know they can rely on if Romo happened to go down. The thing I really loved about Kitna was his fire during games. This guy hates to lose and appeared to take a leadership role on the team. This is something that Romo needs to look at. The Cowboys didn’t go 4-5 under Kitna because he is a great quarterback, but because he took command on the field and wasn’t afraid to get in the face of other players.
And here it comes, the two year player out of Texas A&M and the future of the Cowboys, Stephen McGee. Yeah, I said it. When Kitna got hurt at Arizona in week 16, the Cowboys turned to McGee to at least get the team in position to win the game. He did all that and more, throwing a pretty spectacular touchdown pass with under two minutes left. Although the Cowboys defense found a way to lose that game, McGee did it again the next week in Philadelphia, throwing for a game winning touchdown pass with under two minutes left to win his first career game in the NFL. That is pretty amazing considering he hadn’t attempted a pass in his two-year career with the Cowboys. Now saying he is the future of the team may be a stretch, but he has shown the organization that he is someone they might want to hold onto. Keeping him around under Romo and Kitna will only help his game. Playing in the last two games of the season gave the Cowboys a chance to evaluate him in game situations and he passed with flying colors.
The Cowboys need someone to come through in clutch situations at the quarterback position. Romo’s clutch moments have been a botched field-goal snap against Seattle in the 2006 playoffs, a game costing interception in the red zone against the Giants in the 2007 playoffs and the list goes on. McGee came in with his back against the wall and performed well enough to get the Cowboys in contention to win one game, and won another thanks to late game heroics. If groomed right, McGee could be the next one in line to take over the most prolific position in all of football.
Next post we’ll take a look at the Cowboys backfield….