Cowboys Offense: The Kitna Effect

The Dallas Cowboys never made the blockbuster move this offseason. The Cowboys were however quite efficient at filling holes with affordable free agents. One of the first moves the Cowboys made at the onset of free agency was shipping aging cornerback Anthony Henry to Detroit in exchange for quarterback Jon Kitna. This move was only a footnote to all of the madness that is the free agency signing period, but for the Cowboys it could prove to be the biggest move of the offseason.

Jon Kitna is not without his flaws. He has struggled with injury of late and has always had a propensity for throwing interceptions. Still, Kitna is quite the upgrade over last year’s backup, Brad Johnson. If nothing else, Kitna’s arm strength will force other teams to respect the entire field. Kitna’s arm will also keep the team from having to reign in the playbook, which Kitna is quite familiar with, having spent time in a system with similar terminology in Detroit.

Kitna knows he is not here to compete for a starting job and has said as much. While he offers security as a backup quarterback, his greatest value may be as a mentor. As a Bengal in 2003, Kitna served as a mentor for #1 overall pick Carson Palmer. The fact that Kitna was willing to groom a rookie to eventually supplant him says a lot in itself about Kitna’s character. Much like Trent Dilfer, Kitna is a player whose average play is not a fair indicator of his immense knowledge of the game. Some guys are just better teachers than players, and Carson Palmer has always gone out of his way to attribute much of his success to Kitna’s teaching. Palmer believes that Kitna will be an asset to Tony Romo as well.

Palmer Tuesday on ESPN’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd:

"…you said that the biggest move of the offseason wasn’t Jay Cutler. It wasn’t T.O., but it was Jon Kitna going to Dallas, and you couldn’t have been more right…If Tony just follows what he (Kitna) says and listens to him, he’s gonna have a great year."

Maybe a guy like Kitna is just what Tony Romo needs. A backup who is not exactly breathing down his neck, but who is a good and willing teacher. Kitna is not a Hall of Famer by any stretch of the imagination, but he has seen a lot more live bullets than Tony Romo has in his short career. Kitna should be a great guy for Romo to have with him in the film room. If nothing else, Kitna ought to be able to draw from his experience and drop a few words of wisdom on Tony when times get tough. If things go well for the Cowboys, Jon Kitna won’t be playing a single meaningful down this season. If things go well for Tony Romo, it may have something to do with Jon Kitna.

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