News: The Wulf Den: Positional Preview - QB

Discussion in 'News Zone' started by Wulfman, Jul 16, 2004.

  1. Wulfman

    Wulfman Unofficial GM

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    JULY 16, 2004

    This is the first part of a eight-part preview of the positional battles fans can look forward to as the Cowboys head to training camp at the end of this month. In this first segment, we will explore the quarterback position, where five players are currently on the roster—likely fighting for three roster spots.

    The incredibly high level of QB play in Big D has spoiled the Dallas Cowboys—and us, as their fans—over the years. When you have someone the caliber of Roger Staubach, followed by an above average transitional guy in Danny White, and then turn the reins over to Troy Aikman, it’s easy to get spoiled. It’s also easy to understand why this is likely the most debated and scrutinized position for the Cowboys, and why no one—in the organization or among the fans, alike—will be satisfied until we find that next, sure-fire, all-pro, franchise guy to take control in the huddle. That man may be on the current Cowboys roster. We all hope he is. Bill Parcells hopes he is. Jerry Jones surely hopes he is. But the question is: if he is on the roster, who is it?

    Now Parcells will tell you that you don’t need a franchise QB to win…just someone to “drive the bus”. And his history would seem to indicate that is true. But we don’t want to hear that. We don’t want a guy who will plug along with mediocre or slightly above average numbers—even if it results in winning—unless they win it all.

    We want the cannon arm that can make the big play at any moment like Dan Marino.

    Or the guy that is so accurate that he could seemingly throw the football into the middle of the opposing team’s huddle without it getting picked off, like Troy Aikman.

    Or the guy that can scramble around and make game-changing plays with his feet, like Michael Vick or Donovan McNabb.

    Or the guy that can lead his team from behind late in the game, like John Elway.

    But a guy who is just good enough and doesn’t lose the game for you—like Trent Dilfer—we’ll take a pass on as fans.

    So what do we have on the roster? Do we have a franchise guy among the five players, or are we surrounded by a bunch of bus drivers? Only time will tell, but we may be able to see a little more if we look at the individual players.

    Quincy Carter

    Quincy is preparing to enter his 4th season as a Dallas Cowboys QB, and he has been the starter at one point or another in each season thus far. But last year marked the first year that he actually started all 16 games, having missed significant portions of his rookie season because of injuries and having been replaced after seven games in his sophomore campaign for unprepared rookie Chad Hutchinson. This will also mark the first time in his short career that he will be entering training camp under the same offensive system as he used the previous season…and the same offensive coordinator.

    Here is a look at his stats over the previous three years:

    2001 – Quincy started 8 games, completing 90 of 167 passes attempted (51.1%) for 1,072 yards, 5 TDs, and 7 INTs. That translates into a QB rating of 63. He also rushed 45 times for 150 yards (3.3 yds/carry) and 1 TD, and fumbled 5 times, losing 2.

    2002 – Started the first 7 games, completing 125 of 221 passes (56.6%) for 1,465 yards, 7 TDs, and 8 INTs. That translates into a QB rating of 72.3. He also rushed 27 times for 91 yards (3.4 yds/carry) and 0 TDs, and fumbled 5 times, losing 3.

    2003 – Started all 16 games, completing 292 of 505 passes (57.8%) for 3,302 yards, 17 TDs, and 21 INTs. That translates into a QB rating of 71.4. He also rushed 68 times for 257 yards (3.8 yds/carry) and 2 TDs, and fumbled 10 times, losing 3.

    It’s ironic, looking at the numbers and remembering how positive the “experts” were about him at the end of his rookie year, that he improved his numbers almost across the board and still was replaced after seven games in 2002. And remember that a significant number of those INTs in 2002 were in his final start at Arizona—a game he lead them from behind at the end of the game and which was blown by the kicker—or his numbers would have been even more improved. It’s also easy to see why Parcells wants him to significantly reduce his number of INTs from a year ago.

    So we are not out of line to expect significant improvement this year. Or, to put it in plain language, it’s time for him to put up or shut up. Parcells has mandated two significant changes for Quincy after last season—reduce the number of turnovers from a year ago and add a few pounds to his lower body in an effort to stay fresh later in the season. The pounds have been put on—some 15 of them, anyway—so part one is a success. Now the question will be in his decision-making and execution in training camp. If better knowledge of the system translates into better, smarter decisions on the field, he’ll likely be the starter for week #1 against the Vikings.

    Vinny Testaverde

    After much debate and a whole lot of rumors, Testaverde and Parcells have finally been reunited. Of course, everyone at the Ranch says they expect Vinny to compete with Quincy for the starting position. But those of us who read between the lines know Vinny is in Big D because, a) he knows Parcells and his system, b) Parcells is comfortable with Vinny and knows what he’s getting, c) Parcells wanted a veteran back-up who could still push Quincy, and, d) the Cowboys wanted a mentor to work not only with Quincy, but with Drew Henson as well.

    Still, to be fair heading into training camp, we have to ask the question: what does Vinny still have to offer?

    Vinny has been around for a LONG time, and will be entering his 18th year in the league. As a result, he has plenty of stats to look at. However, to judge what we might expect out of him based on his entire career would be foolish, as no one retains the same abilities as a 40-year old as they did at 25 or 30. So it would give us a more accurate look if we focused on what he has done in his opportunities over the last four years with the Jets—since returning from that torn Achilles’ tendon he suffered in 1999.

    2000 – Started all 16 games, completing 328 of 590 passes (55.6%) for 3,732 yards, 21 TDs, and 25 INTs. That translates into a rating of 69. He also fumbled 7 times, losing 5.

    2001 – Started all 16 games, completing 260 of 441 passes (59%) for 2,752 yards, 15 TDs, and 14 INTs. That translates into a rating of 75.3. He also fumbled 12 times, losing only 2.

    2002 – Played in 5 games, starting 4, completing 54 of 83 passes (65.1%) for 499 yards, 3 TDs, and 3 INTs. That translates into a rating of 78.3. He also fumbled 2 times, losing both.

    2003 – Started 7 games, completing 123 of 198 passes (62.1%) for 1,385 yards, 7 TDs, and 2 INTs. That translates into a rating of 90.6. He also fumbled 1 time, but lost none.

    So, over these years, he completed 765 of 1,312 passes (58.3%) for 8,368 yards, 46 TDs, and 44 INTs, with a QB rating of 74.9.

    Figuring the average per game and projecting over a 16-game season would mean we could expect Vinny to put up the following numbers: completing 278 of 477 passes for 3,043 yards, 17 TDs, and 16 INTs. That would mean fewer yards, the same number of TDs, and fewer INTs than Quincy last season. Throw in the reality that Vinny has shown his best in recent years when he has only played a portion of a season (filling in for an injured Chad Pennington), Quincy’s better mobility, and the reality that Quincy should be improved, and I think it unlikely Vinny will be the #1 guy, barring injury or a significant drop-off by Carter.

    Drew Henson

    The Cowboys traded a 3rd round pick in the 2005 draft to Houston to bring in Henson, and then signed him to a long-term deal. The message—they want him around for a long time, and they think he’s a possibility as the long-term franchise QB. Of course, taking several years off to play baseball didn’t help to hone his football skills, and he had limited action his last season at Michigan.

    Henson didn’t play much in either his freshman or sophomore years at Michigan, and didn’t start a game until his junior season, when he started 8 games and played part of a ninth. That year, despite missing three games following surgery on his right foot, he led the Big Ten Conference in pass efficiency rating (159.4), was second in the conference in passing average per game (238.4), and was fourth in total offense (237.8 avg.). He completed 146 of 237 passes for 2,146 yards and 18 TDs. Over a 16-game schedule, that would equate to 275 of 446 (61.7%) for 4,040 yards and 39 TDs. Definitely worth waiting around for, even if he only lives up to 75% of that production.

    To say that he’s got rust is an understatement. He has rust AND inexperience. Having said that, however, he also is blessed with incredible physical attributes, and seems to already be demonstrating the instincts and leadership traits necessary to be the starting signal-caller at some point in the future.

    That future won’t be this year, barring something really unusual, but he’s guaranteed the #3 spot if he stays healthy. Next year, when he has a year of the NFL game under his belt, expect him to begin pushing Quincy for the starting job. And, if he shows the kind of game he did briefly at Michigan, it should be a good battle.

    Tony Romo

    Like Henson, we have little more than his college performances by which to evaluate Romo. Of course, we did get a few fleeting glimpses in training camp and preseason last year, and we did hear from various sources that Parcells seems to think quite a bit of the way he goes about his business. Add to that the reality that both he and Offensive Coordinator Sean Payton graduated from Eastern Illinois, and the conspiracy theorists could have quite a bit to write about.

    At Eastern Illinois, Romo put up some pretty impressive numbers against, admittedly, a lesser level of competition. After red-shirting in 1998 and playing only sparingly in 1999, he had three productive seasons. The stats look like this:

    2000 – Completed 164 of 278 passes (59%) for 2,583 yards, 27 TDs, and 12 INTs in 11 starts. That translates into a QB rating of 104.3.

    2001 – Completed 138 of 207 passes (66.7%) for 2,068 yards, 21 TDs, and 6 INTs in 10 starts. That translates into a QB rating of 121.

    2002 – Completed 258 of 407 (63.4%) for 3,165 yards, 34 TDs, and 16 INTs in 12 starts. That translates into a QB rating of 98.7.

    Romo was the first player in Ohio Valley Conference history to win the Walter Payton Award, which is given to the nation's top player at the NCAA Division 1-AA level. He was also named the conference Player of the Year each of these three seasons, and holds the conference career record with 85 touchdown passes, is second with 584 pass completions, and third with 8212 yards passing. Impressive records regardless of level.

    For me, however, this has become a numbers game ever since Vinny Testaverde signed on the dotted line. If the only barrier to Romo making the roster was Chad Hutchinson, I think he’d have an excellent chance. But as it is, it will take a season-ending injury to either Quincy Carter or Vinny Testaverde for him to make the roster. If he were eligible for the practice squad, he would be a lock.

    Chad Hutchinson

    And that leaves only Chad Hutchinson. If there is anyone in the league that believes he will still be a Cowboy at the beginning of the season, they’re either deluding themselves or not very well informed. Hutchinson didn’t show much two years ago in his nine starts, and was convincingly beaten in training camp last year by Quincy. The ‘Boys gave him one last chance to prove his worth in NFLEurope this season, and his production was mediocre before ending early with an injury.

    In the nine games he started in 2002, Hutchinson completed 127 of 250 passes (50.8%) for 1,555 yards, 7 TDs, and 8 INTs. He also fumbled the ball an astounding 12 times, losing 8 of them. His QB rating for the season was 66.3.

    With the Rhein Fire this year, Hutchinson did show some improvement overall, completing 126 of 207 passes (60.9%) for 1,356 yards, 5 TDs, and 4 INTs. He also continued to have fumbling problems, although taking 25 sacks will tend to knock the ball loose. His QB rating in Europe was 80.1.

    It is rare that any team takes five QBs to training camp, as there are not enough snaps to go around, so the likelihood of Hutchinson even lasting a few more weeks is slim, at best. The Cowboys would love to get a draft pick for him, even if it’s a conditional one, and it would take a disaster of almost biblical proportions (like season-ending injuries to two of the top three QBs) for him to have a chance at the roster.

    Closing Thoughts

    The picture seems fairly clear, if things go as expected. Quincy will show some improvement and remain the starter. Testaverde will push Quincy and be both the veteran back-up and mentor to Carter and Henson. Henson will stand on the sidelines with a baseball cap and clipboard. Romo will go to camp to take snaps and act as an insurance policy in the event of an injury. Hutchinson will be either traded or outright released, barring something cataclysmic.

    This is the most stable situation the Cowboys have had entering training camp since Aikman retired. And, whether the future franchise guy is there or not, the future is, at least, promising.

  2. LaTunaNostra

    LaTunaNostra He Made the Difference

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    Fine writing as usual, Wulfie, and eminently reasonable as well.
  3. Fla Cowpoke

    Fla Cowpoke Well-Known Member

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    Wulf. I think this is the first time I have read anything from you (I am relatively new to the board), but that is the best analysis of why Carter likely will be the starter and what we could expect from Vinny if he started.
  4. hockix

    hockix Active Member

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    Great job again Wulf.
    Always interesting to read your posts.
  5. JBell523

    JBell523 That's still my Quarterback

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    Wulf, good job man

    If I had 20 hours of free time I bet I could make a better one
  6. Danny White

    Danny White Winter is Coming

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    Great post Wulf.

    Here's hoping this is one QB thread that doesn't turn ugly!
  7. gimmesix

    gimmesix Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life

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    Romo is eligible for the practice squad. The question is would he clear waivers to make it.

    I don't think he will, because too many teams wanted to sign him coming out of college. So if he plays well enough to intrigue Dallas, then he'd likely intrigue another team enough to sign him as its third QB. And if he doesn't play well enough to intrigue Dallas, then the Cowboys are not going to want him on the PS.
  8. Wulfman

    Wulfman Unofficial GM

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    Are you certain? In section 4 (Eligibility) of the Practic Squad portion of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it says the following:

    (a) The practice squad shall consist of the following players, provided that they have not served more than one previous season on a Practice Squad: (i) players who do not have an Accrued Season of NFL experience; and (ii) free agent players who were on the Active List for fewer than nine regular season games during their only Accrued Season(s). No player may be a practice squad player for more than two seasons.

    I translated this to mean that, if a player has an accrued season of NFL experience, he would not be eligible. But that second statement looks as if it might make him eligible, as he was not on the active list for the requisite nine games. AdamJT, can I get a ruling here?

    I will be happy if I'm wrong, as a chance a clearing waivers is better than no chance of being around at all, and Vinny is likely only here for a year.
  9. blindzebra

    blindzebra Well-Known Member

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    He's eligible under (ii). He is a FA that was not active for nine games.
  10. silverbear

    silverbear Semi-Official Loose Cannon

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    I enjoy reading your articles, Wulf-man, and not just because of the information they contain...

    You write really well, too... one of the things I have found vaguely depressing in my years online is how few people write well... I mean, some of the posts I read, I almost need a translator...

    Anyway, your opinions regarding the quarterback situation mirror my own almost exactly...
  11. Wulfman

    Wulfman Unofficial GM

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    That makes sense, and I'm glad to be wrong in this case. Thanks to those of you who pointed it out, and I hope that Romo can somehow sneak through waivers. I'm sure that's what the Cowboys would hope for at this point as well.
  12. Wulfman

    Wulfman Unofficial GM

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    My thanks. I have been writing for many years now, albeit as an amateur. I do have several books in the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre that I am working on, one with some 15 chapters written. But I love the Cowboys, and thoroughly enjoy writing my editorials and team articles.
  13. SacredStar

    SacredStar Well-Known Member

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    Excellant read!!

    I have been a big Romo fan watching him in college and was thrilled he signed with Dallas.I'd really hate to see Dallas waive him w/o giving him a solid chance.He has so much potential.

    Thanks for the notch writing!
  14. TwoDeep3

    TwoDeep3 Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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  15. Sarge

    Sarge Red, White and brew... Staff Member

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    As usual Wulfster, good piece.
  16. Hollywood Henderson

    Hollywood Henderson Benched

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    Yep, good stuff!
    I think Romo would make it on the PS...Not too many teams will sign a small FA QB who would be cut so late in the season...He would have to learn a whole new system and be active for a team to sign him then...
    That being said, I just don't beleive Carter will ever be a good enough passer to be good...

    Even at Vinny's age he can hit wide open receivers and throw every pass in the book...

    With an improved Oline...Vinny could be a weapon on this team...

    A Defense ready to Blitz? Vinny could hit Key in stride for a big gain or 1st down...Carter throwing that pass, we might wonder who he was throwing to?

    With Carter we will still be cussing, going he missed yet another wide open guy or threw into triple coverage...I think Carter would be best coming off the bench...If his fragile ego could handle it?
  17. adbutcher

    adbutcher K9NME

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    Thanks Wulf, great article and great read.
  18. Brokejumper

    Brokejumper New Member

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    Great article as usual. I will look forward to reading your SciFi novels next!

    As for the QB situation, I think you handled it very nicely. The bottom line for me is that Quincy is still likely to be the best QB on this roster even if he does not improve one lick.

    With that said, I think the chances are that he will improve, though that is just guessing based on his talent and work ethic. Really, he was always a project QB who was going to take 3-5 years to figure out what we had in him, which is why I am always baffled at the folks who claim to know what he will turn out as in the end.

    Though, I suppose if I were a betting man, I would lay down even money every time that a rookie QB will not turn out to be All-Pro/HOF type with pretty good success.
  19. jobberone

    jobberone Kane Ala Staff Member

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    Enjoyed as ususal.

    I wasn't sure about Romo but I thought he was eligible. Nice to know he is since I still am intrigued by him. I'm not sure he will clear waivers, but we will see. They have to keep QC, Vinny and Henson. Romo is either Parcells first fourth QB making a roster or is put on the PS. That's assuming no prolonged injury to the other three.

    First I agree QC is the starter unless he's injured. That's the reason Vinny is here. We are fortunate to have him around as he's not a threat to QC, can walk into a game without much of a drop in performance, and his presence will help all the QBs on the team.

    Chad appears to be gone. I'm hoping to get something but don't expect it. Why would anyone want to trade for a player who is going to be released anyway? The only reason is they really want him and fear someone else is going to pluck him off waivers ahead of them. I don't see this happening although it's possible.

    Keep posting please.
  20. ChrisFul

    ChrisFul Benched

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    Chad's done. There just simply isn't a place for him. We have a veteran backup, We have a young starter, we have "the future", and the fourth guy is the developmental type. There's simply no place for Hutch anymore. Someone will give the guy another shot somewhere, though.

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