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.