Usually I give out a Game Ball early in the week to the most-deserving player from the previous game. This week, I think that would have been Jason Witten. His 10 catch, 140 yard, 1 TD performance was a thing of beauty. His accomplishments this season - going over 600 career catches, leading the league in catches for a tight end, ranking among the Top 10 pass catchers of all positions for the 2010 season - all just amazing. Plus, he can block. So kudos to Jason. But since we had several articles up extolling the awesomeness of Jason this week, I decided to do a special Game Ball.
I'm giving a 2010 half-a-season Game Ball to Jon Kitna. Talk about a back-up player making good. Kitna has been all the Dallas Cowboys hoped he could be, and maybe more. When Tony Romo went down in that game against the New York Giants, it felt like all hope was lost. The Cowboys were in a funk, and now their starting QB was sidelined. At that moment, it seemed like the 2010 season was going to be a total bust.
Kitna is an experienced, well-traveled quarterback. But his age, and recent inactivity were generally recipes for poor play. Those who watched Kitna in training camp knew that he rarely threw deep anymore, and the Cowboys offense is a vertical offense, they like to get the ball downfield. It fit Tony Romo well, he's a QB that throws a nice deep ball, and he also extends plays to the last possible moment in order to hit the big strike. That's not Kitna's game. So the natural thought was how would he do in this kind of offense?
A couple of things happened. One, the Cowboys changed their offense to fit Kitna. More three-step drops, more quick releases, more using the backs as receivers, and more of the running game. This fit Kitna's style. The Cowboys also moved on to Jason Garrett as head coach; he helped to motivate players into performing. Even through injury, not just Romo, but also Dez Bryant, Marion Barber, and Roy Williams among others, the Cowboys offense is humming. Much of this credit goes to Jon Kitna.
Kitna has the respect of his team. He puts his heart into every game, he cares, and he shows it. He leads this team. He also has done an amazing job of deciding when to throw, and when to tuck it and run. He's picked up valuable yardage in every game with his feet and decision-making. He's a pro.
His stats aren't bad, either. He's completed 66% of his passes, for 2,250 yards. He's thrown 15 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and has a 91.4 QB rating. Four of those interceptions were in the Jaguars game, since then he's been pretty good at protecting the football. But most of all, he's helped lead Dallas to a 4-2 record in the Jason Garrett Era, and that was against some very good competition. He had us in position to win the Saints game, and almost pulled the upset against Philly.
When Tony Romo went down, it looked like all was lost. But Kitna stepped in and didn't miss a beat. With backup QB's, that's a rare occurrence.
Here's a special Game Ball to Jon Kitna.