"Give Stephen McGee a chance."
"Let's see what Stephen McGee can do."
Those two sentences have hung in the air like ragweed this week. For the record, the NFL is not about giving everyone a chance. And I pretty well know what Stephen McGee can do.
But you know what? I'm won't argue with you. I'm going all Pontius Pilate on this. I wash my hands.
Play Stephen McGee at quarterback.
The frustrating thing about this discussion is that I am crazy about Stephen McGee. I don't think I've ever met a better, nicer, more "stand up" young man than Stephen McGee. SM, marry my daughter, please. And don't think I'm damning McGee with faint praise. He is an impressive athlete, and his arm is WAY stronger than most people realize. He earned my respect and almost moist-eyed devotion with the toughness and "team first" attitude he displayed at Texas A&M. Some folks forget that he was among the top-ranked high school passers in the country before Dennis Franchione thought it would be a good idea to turn this flamethrower into an option quarterback. McGee soldiered on in College Station through injuries that would have dropped a bull moose. Hombre.
The point is, I know what Stephen McGee can do. And I know what he can't do, at least now. He can't, or at least won't, pull the trigger on downfield throws. In two training camps, McGee's unofficial, underground nickname has been "Checkdown." McGee has been unable, even in skeleton drills, to anticipate receivers coming open. McGee insists that he sees defenses clearly, and that he fully mentally processes his reads and progressions. For the record, I believe him. But he has the football version of a golfer's "yips." He just won't turn it loose, electing instead to lay it off underneath to a TE or RB. Stephen still wants to see a receiver come open before he throws. That's just not the way it works in the NFL.
Part of that is good, I guess, particularly in a young quarterback. McGee isn't going to throw a lot of interceptions. Nor is he going to convert a lot of third downs. Third and seven will inevitably result in fourth and one. Cue the punt team, Joe D.
The question of whether to play McGee this year boils down to this: Does this coaching staff think McGee will ever project as the franchise's starting quarterback? Their answer clearly is no. And that became apparent in summer camp when McGee was a hairbreadth away from getting cut. "Plateau" is the word, and McGee never resumed a climb.
Here's your one compelling counterargument, McGee Nation. The opinion of this coaching staff is now functionally irrelevant. 'Cause they ain't gonna be here next year.
It is still my belief that the idea is to win football games. As many football games as possible. Even when a team is 1-6 and going nowhere. Jon Kitna is the best available option if winning in the objective. In case you didn't notice, Kitna was way better than any of us had a right to expect in that otherwise horrendous loss to the Jags.
But you know what? I won't argue with you. Play Stephen McGee. I wash my hands.