Cowboys are rolling the dice if they go into the season with just two quarterbacks

Yesterday, to the delight of many Cowboys fans far and wide, the Cowboys released 3rd QB Stephen McGee:

McGee has not been impressive since the Cowboys drafted him in 2009, so I’m not opposed to the Cowboys moving on.  However, as their current roster stands, the Cowboys are at full capacity at 53 players, they have filled their practice squad, and their first game is in three days.  There is still time to address the third QB spot once the season begins, but as of Sunday morning, it appears that they will head into the season with just two quarterbacks.

In each of the last two seasons, the Cowboys have had to utilize their 3rd QB:

  • In 2010, when the Cowboys had already long been eliminated from playoff contention, Stephen McGee played the final game against Philly after both Tony Romo and Jon Kitna were lost for the season.
  • In 2011, during a meaningful game late in the season, once again against Philly, Romo injured his hand.  With Kitna already on the shelf, McGee had to take over the reins once again.

Often times the 3rd QB spot can be minimized, and just as often, people tend to say “If we have to use our 3rd QB, our season is screwed anyway.”  I’ve even been guilty of that a few times myself.  However, look no further than last year’s Texans.  After Matt Schaub was lost for the season after suffering a Lisfranc injury, Matt Leinart lasted all of 13 pass attempts before being lost with a shoulder injury.  Rookie T.J. Yates came in and steered that Texans team, a very talented one, to a 3-2 record over the next 5 games, earning the #3 seed heading into Week 17.  Another great example is the 2002 Eagles.  After losing Donovan McNabb and Koy Detmer in consecutive weeks, A.J. Feeley was forced into action, and the Eagles rattled off a 4-1 record in route to the NFC’s #1 seed heading into the playoffs, when they would get a healthy McNabb back.

T.J. Yates and A.J. Feeley weren’t anything special during their respective teams’ runs toward the playoffs.  But they did know the playbook, and their teams were able to continue to run their offenses as they normally would.  Yates and Feeley were competent enough to steer their otherwise very talented teams to wins in emergency duty.

There’s a thinking that I’ve seen that says “Well, we can just sign a QB in the event we lose Romo.”  That may very well be true, but if it comes to that, that new acquisition is going to have no familiarity with his new teammates and an impossible learning curve in trying to master a playbook in an extremely short amount of time.  If the 2002 Eagles had signed a guy off the street in 2002 and handed him the offense a week later, would they have been able to go 4-1?  I’m very doubtful.

Now, I’m not opposed to rolling with 2 QBs in certain situations.  For example, the Giants go with 2 QBs every year, but Eli Manning hasn’t missed a start due to injury in his entire career.  That’s a more calculated risk.

Tony Romo, however, has missed time due to injury in 3 of the last 4 seasons, and his work space resides behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.

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16 Comments

  1. […] In the comment section of my Cowboys’ 3rd QB post yesterday, “TrackCoachRyan” had an interesting thought: Mike Kafka to the Cowboys. […]

  2. TJ says:

    The 2011 game vs. Philly was not meaningful. It had already been determined that the week 17 game vs. NYG was going to decide the division.

    1. Yup, it was predetermined that the following week’s game would determine the NFCE winner.

      However, if the Cowboys had beaten Philly and lost to the Giants in Week 17, they still would have had a shot at the Wild Card with help (Atlanta would have had to lose Week 16 & 17, I believe). Jason Garrett played his starters the entire game and most certainly wanted that game.

  3. poolboy87 says:

    I don’t necessarily agree with you here, Jimmy.

    First of all, I don’t think it’s all that different for the Cowboys to do it, and for the Giants to do it. At some point, Eli Manning is going to get hurt. It happened to his brother, it happened to Brett Favre, and it’s happened to every long-term starting QB that has ever played the game. And it’s not as though Eli Manning hasn’t been injured before, or that their line is reminiscent of the ’90s Cowboys.

    Secondly, TJ Yates and AJ Feely were a little bit different than whoever the Cowboys would get. Yates was on an immensely talented team, with one of the best RBs in the NFL that helped carry him to that 2-3 record in the regular season…I don’t think the Cowboys are talented enough to attain THAT record with a 3rd QB. Heck, I honestly don’t know if I’d say they’re talented enough to get that record with Kyle Orton.

    Tony Romo is going to carry that offense. They’re going as far as he can take them, in my opinion. If that have to put in another QB for more than a game, they’re in BIG trouble.

    And one other thing to keep in mind: they’re now carrying 4 TEs with the guy they picked up from the Bengals. I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes once Jason Witten becomes more of a sure thing.

  4. youngwiz says:

    the problem is that the cowboy gave mcgee another offseason when it was already pretty clear he was going no where. the cowboys should have had more focus on at least finding a developmental qb to throw on the ps

  5. ameero2 says:

    Think Bernie kosar with the 90’s Cowboys.

  6. Joe D says:

    Has a team ever won a SB past their 2nd string qb? I know Brady and Kurt Warner have done it as backups, but in history even the most talented rosters don’t survive with 3rd stringer or worse (91 eagles, 11 Texans, etc). I don’t think it’s THAT crazy of a move.

    1. Gary says:

      I think the idea is that your 3rd stringer can keep your season alive while you wait for your starter to get healthy.

  7. Carl says:

    So completely of topic but has anyone read Jon Dorenbos wiki-page recently? Content include how his dad murdered his mum and how back when he had his pro-day Bobby April said he was the best he had seen for years.

  8. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike Kafka down in Dallas either. Smart guy capable of learning the playbook and spilling Eagles secretes.

    1. That’s a very interesting thought.

    2. I put that out on Twitter, ha.

  9. Matt H says:

    I could be wrong but i dont think people will be scambling to sign McGee. Hell probably be available when needed.

    1. That’s possible, sure. However, McGee is not eligible for the practice squad. If you have to bring him in around Week 12 or so, the guy will have been completely away from football for the last 3-4 months, not getting any reps at all with the team in practice. He wasn’t good enough to keep in the first place, and now you’re throwing a heavy dose of rust on top.

  10. I think they’ll address it after game 1 when they don’t have to guarantee a QB’s salary for the year to do it.

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