I thought I’d do a series of breakdowns of the different spots on the team. I’ll be looking at last year’s players, players recently taken in the 2011 Draft, free agent prospects, and sound strategies for next year. To begin this series, I’m looking at easily the most stable group for the team right now; the quarterbacks.
Tony Romo – Despite going 1-5 in his six full games last year, Romo enters the 2011 season as the undisputed starter. His 94.9 passer rating was a hair short of his career average, speaking to the fact that Romo’s play had little to do with the disastrous start to last season. There is no question that Romo is still the best quarterback on this team and is perfectly capable to leading them back to the playoffs. Hopefully, his recent efforts in organizing and leading the player-run workouts will not only change the public perception of his leadership style but also have whatever positive effect was needed (if any) on his perception and relationships within the locker room.
Jon Kitna – If not for the half-season of playing time Kitna received thanks to Romo’s injury, there’s a chance we’d be going into this season discussing if he should be brought back. His age alone and the lack of any real on-field evidence of his play could have led to speculation. Thanks to his play, however, Kitna came out of 2010 with nearly all the job security he could hope for. He is easily one of the five best backup quarterbacks in the league and that means a lot to a team with playoff hopes and a 31-year-old starter.
Stephen McGee – If winning is everything, then McGee was just as good as Romo last year with one win as a starter. While still not showing enough to even supplant Kitna at this point, McGee certainly flashed enough potential during the preseason and his late regular-season performances to expect no real competition for his job this offseason. Though Dallas has kept just two quarterbacks as recently as the 2008 season, the ages of Romo and Kitna plus the investment already made in McGee render it a non-issue for 2011.
DRAFT CLASS IMPACT
Despite having some chances to take prospects like Ryan Mallett, Ricky Stanzi, or Greg McElroy, the Cowboys spent no picks on the quarterback position. This reaffirmed the faith they have in Stephen McGee.
FREE AGENCY POTENTIAL
No movement expected.
Other than perhaps Special Teams, this is the one spot on the roster where no changes should occur. Romo is the clear starter, Kitna’s the clear backup, and McGee is the up-and-comer in third. However, having thought this same way before about other positions and winding up surprised, I’m not completely confident.
If McGee is blowing the coaches away in camp and backs it up with his preseason play, you have to entertain some possibility that he could force Kitna off the roster to free up a roster spot for a second kicker, a special-teams ace like Danny McCray, or some other need. Couple that with the ever-increasing chance a 38-year-old Kitna (who turns 39 in mid-September) could hit the wall at any moment, and you just never know what could happen.
That said, the safest bet on the team is for all three to return next year in their same roles as 2010. Hopefully the next time we see Kitna or McGee on the field will be in a meaningless Week 17 game because the Cowboys have clinched homefield advantage, and not due to injury or another awful season.