It's always interesting to see what the fan base finds to argue about. Some subjects are almost automatic every year, but it always seems that things come up that are rather surprising, at least to me. This year there are two running arguments that keep popping up in thread after thread that make me sit and scratch my head. One involves the quarterbacks, but not who is the starter. The other is over the fifth receiver battle.
You might wonder why I would care. This is preseason, and half the fun is arguing about who is better and what decisions we think the coaches will make. Well, there is one reason, which I will get around to.
The first has been running in one form or another for at least the past two seasons: Is Stephen McGee an NFL caliber starting quarterback? I keep seeing arguments about him never being good enough, that he should be cut immediately. There are other arguments that he is showing sufficient talent, and the team should dump or trade Jon Kitna instead.
There are a couple of things in the argument that baffle me. First off, why in the world would anyone expect the Cowboys to cut one of the top three quarterbacks? In 2010, it took all three of them to get through the season. While I certainly hope that Tony Romo can complete the entire season and the playoff run on the field, I also fully understand that there better be someone ready to step in if he misses a game or two. And if you have to go to #2, then there better be a #3 standing by to go in. All indications are that the offensive line will have at least one rookie starter at RT, and there is a good chance a second rookie may be playing LG. This means that there is an increased risk of there being a breakdown and the quarterback getting hurt. Talent and ability are one thing, but experience has to be gained over time. And if David Arkin doesn't wind up starting, then the current option would appear to be putting Montrae Holland in. I'm not sure that this makes the quarterback any safer than having a rookie guard.
The only logical choice given recent history and the personnel available this season is to go with three quarterbacks. The decision as to who is the primary backup and who is third string is strictly up to the coaches, and the rule change on the game day active roster means that this can be changed at any time since the third string QB no longer has to be designated an emergency QB. I cannot see any chance that Kitna or McGee would not be on the final 53.
The other part of this argument that I just don't get is the posts that declare McGee will never have the skills to be the full time starter for the Cowboys. He is just not NFL starter caliber.
That's interesting. I pulled up the NFL.com fantasy ranking for quarterbacks, which at this point is the projected starters, since a few teams may still have a decision to make. Lets run down positions 21 through 32: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb, Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell, Chad Henne, Colt McCoy, Alex Smith, Matt Hasselback, Kevin Kolb, Marc Bulger, and Cam Newton. Oh, and the projected starter for Minnesota, Christian Ponder, is ranked 33rd. Bulger is the projected backup at Baltimore.
I don't know how many of those names I would want to swap out for either Kitna or McGee. I'm not sure all of them are really the kinds of player you want to start in the NFL. Some of them certainly aren't proven to be that good, and several others are on the downhill side of their career. So a least a handful of NFL teams don't have a starter that is really good enough to start.
McGee and Kitna are supposed to be backups. McGee may or may not develop into a starting quarterback, but this season, that is not his role. He needs to be a good backup. Not a starter. Judging from the last two games the Cowboys have played, one regular season and one preseason, he certainly seems to be at least good enough to back Romo up. The Cowboys are not likely to have a second string quarterback who is first string quality, and neither is any other team in the league. McGee might grow into a possible replacement for Romo, or he might be a career backup. He is going to be on the team this year, and so will Kitna, who may not have a lot of speed and agility, but he does have experience.
One other note on McGee. He is the only quarterback on the Cowboys who is undefeated as a regular season starter. Yeah, I know, one game against the Eagles second team isn't much of a test, but how can so many keep claiming he is hopeless?
There aren't going to be any changes in the quarterback postition until the 2011 season is over. The arguments about it are pointless.
One side of the argument is that Holley has a year's experience, he is a special teams ace, and he his skill set is better developed than Radway's. Those are fairly good arguments.
The other side of the argument is that Radway has such incredible speed. Really. He is fast. Very limited experience playing football in college, and the breakdowns of his time on the field against Denver indicate he catches wrong, runs routes wrong, and doesn't know how to time his jump, but did you see that speed?
Did I tip my hand there?
I keep seeing people write that the team needs to keep Radway on the roster and not risk putting him on the practice squad. They are afraid some other team will snatch him up because of his tremendous upside. And I guess one of the NFL teams that can afford to waste a spot on their 53 player roster on an unproven wide receiver that is almost certain to make no contribution on the field this season might jump at the chance. I just don't know which teams that would be.
Radway is the perfect candidate for the practice squad. He needs to learn the skills and techniques of a wide receiver, and what better place? His speed will be useful for the defensive backs to try to cover (heavens know they need all the work they can get), and the coaching staff can work with him to see if he will develop into a viable receiver. Meanwhile, Holley seems to be a special teams ace, and the team might just need him in that role. Joe DeCamillis seems to like him, and he may have the final call on this. And it seems conceivable that a player might be a valuable contributer on special teams even if he doesn't really have the skills to be a good starter at his position. If you don't think so, look up Bill Bates.
Also, I think assuming that this competition is down to two players is just a tad premature. There are still seven other receivers in camp, I think, and one of them might still break out.
My final reason for thinking all the Radway passion is misplaced is that the staff writers all say about the same thing, that he is not ready yet, and that he would most likely be safe on the practice squad. I think they might know what they are talking about.
These things seem pretty evident to me. Obviously, they aren't to everyone else. And everyone is entitled to their opinion. But, folks, I have a problem. There is already so much going on that I can't read it all. I love digging into the threads and gaining insight into the team. I just hate to keep hitting these particular arguements. They have become diversions that I have to skip over to get to meaningful content. I know, just because it makes no sense to me doesn't mean I am right, but that's how I see it. And the coaches are making these decisions anyway.
I just wanted to see if I could convince a few people to give these topics a rest. Probably can't, but I couldn't resist the irony of arguing myself about topics I am tired of seeing people argue about.
Besides, you still have Martellus Bennett to get all worked up over.