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Cowboys Must Step Up on a Backup Quarterback

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The Cowboys have eliminated a lot of dead wood in the brief offseason.  Adam Jones, Tank Johnson, Bruce Read and Brian Stewart have already been dismissed.  More changes are surely in store for a team which cannot stand pat.

One name certain to retire, move up to the coaching staff or be released next month is backup QB Brad Johnson, whose weary arm was a big reason the Cowboys cratered during Tony Romo's three game absence.   Johnson's departure raised the question:  who will replace him?

Unless a team has a Matt Cassell or a young Danny White on its roster, its backup QB choices usually come in two failure-laced flavors.  It can choose a young QB rated as too wild, immature or unstable by its original team -- a Rex Grossman, J.P. Losman or Kyle Boller -- or it can opt for an older veteran, whose saavy may be offset by eroding skills.  A quarterback like, well, Brad Johnson.


Of the currently available options, one name intrigues -- one Jeff Garcia.  Sure, he's got warts but he also has qualities that make him the ideal backup for this Cowboys squad.

First, Garcia has filled the role.  He entered 2006 as Donovan McNabb's backup, after short stops at Cleveland and Detroit.  Garcia took over when McNabb tore an ACL and spurred a late, six-game winning streak.   His Christmas Day win over Dallas swiped the division from Dallas and his final win knocked the Giants out of the playoffs.  He's played in several systems and could certainly adapt to Dallas' playbook.

Garcia's QB ratings have topped 90 in each of the last three seasons. He would represent a legitimate option to Romo on those days, and there are about two per season, when Romo just doesn't have it.  Garcia would give Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett the option of benching a flailing Romo without automatically conceding the game.

Lastly, Garcia's style most closely resembles Romo's, among the free agents or free agents to be.  He doesn't have a cannon arm, but he has Romo-like mobility, a skill which should not be overlooked.  Dallas line pass protects well when healthy, but it's hardly air-tight.  Romo makes it look better than it really is because he can side step a broken assignment and make a play.

Opponents sacked Johnson and Bollinger three times more frequently than Romo this year.  If Dallas recruits another Bledsoe Brother for the backup slot, the sacks will continue to pile up whenever Romo is out of the lineup.

Jeff Garcia is Steve Beuerlein with wheels, but the Cowboys may never get a chance to pursue him.  New Bucs head coach Raheem Morris may choose to keep the 38 year old Garcia as his starter while he drafts and grooms Tampa's future quarterback.  But can you imagine the ready-made stories the Metroplex press would inherit if Garcia joined the team? He and Terrell Owens fell out loudly in San Francisco. Has a team ever had a controversy between its star receiver an its backup QB? 

And when has a potential circus like this ever dissuaded Jerry Jones?