Mac Engel

February 12, 2014

Jerry’s mantra of change should include drafting QB

The Cowboys must look long and hard at the talent available in this year’s draft.

The last time we heard from our fearless leader, he was busy looking in the mirror, examining what went wrong. Like most of us, when Jerry Jones looks in the mirror he sees aging, and truth.

Just as I have been cursed with the nose of a Russian figure skater, Jerry has been blessed/cursed by the power of conviction. He’s sure he’s right.

But after so many playoff-less seasons — four and counting — Jerry is looking extra hard in the mirror these days. It’s why he told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen after the season ended, “As for me, I’ve got to evaluate my own role. I need to look at the man in the mirror and really be honest about why we keep coming up short.”

(Don’t get too excited. Jerry said the same thing when the Cowboys began training camp in 2013. He’s probably said the same thing 100 other times, too.)

That is why Scott Linehan was hired to call the plays. Why Rod Marinelli is the defensive coordinator. Why, in what will be his final season unless they make the playoffs, Jason Garrett has power.

While Jerry is remaking his image, he best do a 180 on the quarterback issue. This is a sensitive area for the face of the franchise, because he doesn’t want any part of QB hell.

In less than two weeks, the top players in college football go to Indianapolis for the meat market that is the NFL combine, at which 19 quarterbacks are scheduled to demonstrate their ability.

With Tony Romo’s back suddenly “healed” and “A-OK” after two surgeries in less than eight months, plus the fact he’s signed for another 50 years for $800 million — the Cowboys can’t feasibly be in the market for a Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Tajh Boyd or Johnny Manziel. It does not mean they should ignore the rest, because they need to be looking.

They need someone to develop into a starter. Kyle Orton is a backup’s backup.

Odds are good they are not going to find the next Peyton Manning, but Russell Wilson and Drew Brees were third- and second-rounders, respectively. Tom Brady was a sixth-rounder.

You don’t know unless you look, and try, and the team needs to do both. Romo is 33, and now he certifiably has a bad back.

The last time the Cowboys tried this they selected Texas A&M’s Stephen McGee in the fourth round in 2009. They stayed with McGee for three years, and he eventually was exposed as a guy who looked the part but couldn’t play the position. BTW: He was last seen signing a deal last year with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.

Before that, the last time the Cowboys drafted a quarterback who went on to start in an NFL playoff game, and play a bunch in Arena Football 2, it was Quincy Carter, taken in the second round in 2001.

Jerry has selected more than 200 players since he bought the team, and five were quarterbacks — Troy Aikman, Bill Musgrave, Q, McGee and Steve Walsh in the supplemental draft. Aikman spoiled him; Q scared him.

Jerry just does not want any part of the process of developing a young quarterback. What he may not want to acknowledge is that, since he bought the team, the learning curve for QBs is much different today than it was in 1989. The rules are more QB-friendly. Phil Simms noted last year that between coaching, rule changes, short passes and quick reads, the game is much easier now for quarterbacks of this generation.

There is no reason not to take advantage of that, and possibly draft LSU’s Zach Mettenberger or Georgia’s Aaron Murray. Both suffered torn ACLs late in the 2013 season, which will do nothing but hurt their draft stock. Both played multiple seasons of major college ball. Both have pro qualities. There is something there. Neither would need to play immediately.

If the team is looking for symmetry, it also can take a long look at Jimmy Garoppolo, who played at Romo’s alma mater, Eastern Illinois.

Don’t look at the odds. The odds are stacked against all drafted QBs. Most don’t make it.

When Jerry looked in the mirror in the off-season, he saw a reason to change a few things, which allowed his head coach to bring in his own play-caller. Stay with this mantra of change and draft a QB.

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