Apr 042009
 

What is more important to a team than a franchise quarterback? Not much.

Where are the Arizona Cardinals of a year ago without the reemergence of Kurt Warner? Who wins the Super Bowl if the Steelers don’t have the steady hand of Big Ben Roethlisberger on the wheel? Subtract the Roger Staubachs, Terry Bradshaws, Joe Montanas, Troy Aikmans, and Tom Bradys of the world from their respective teams and who were the teams of the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s?

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Who has the most potential to become a franchise quarterback?

  • Tony Romo (38%, 8 Votes)
  • Matt Ryan (38%, 8 Votes)
  • Jay Cutler (19%, 4 Votes)
  • Joe Flacco (5%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 21

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Sure, a few teams have won championships with caretakers at the helm. Typically, those teams (see Bucs, Ravens) had suffocating defenses. Also, typically, they were one-and-done champions. The repeat offenders, the perennial championship teams all seem to have this common thread: a franchise QB.

Each franchise quarterback has his own special reason he stands apart from the pack. He may be an Elway type, draw it up in the dirt, scramble around, make a ridiculous pass to win the game. Or, he may be “Cool Hand Luke” Aikman, with a cannon for an arm and a steel beam for a spine. He may be Captain Comeback, never-say-die Staubach or pinpoint precision, perfect-passing Brady (or Montana). Whatever he is, he is the guy you want leading your team into battle.

Chicago hasn’t had such a guy since, well, since…you can’t say McMahon. So, they trade away the family farm to get Cutler and most of the critics say they got the better end of the bargain. So says the New York Post:

The Bears showed they’re serious about contending in the NFC after missing the playoffs the past two years, and in Cutler, they finally have a top-tier passer after a decades-long search.

“Time will tell if he’s going to be a franchise player,” general manager Jerry Angelo said. “We’re certainly hoping that’s the case.

But what we do know is we got a winning quarterback and we feel very good about that.”

The Bears are getting a Pro Bowl quarterback who threw for 4,526 yards, 25 touchdowns with 18 interceptions, yet got traded after a major blowup with management and new coach Josh McDaniels. Cutler wasn’t happy when Mike Shanahan got fired or when his position coach, Jeremy Bates, left for Southern California.

But this is a Cowboys’ blog. The overwhelming evidence of the importance of a franchise quarterback to the longterm – and consistent – success of a team begs the question: is Tony Romo that kind of guy?

The answer: I don’t know. Neither do you. Neither does Jerry Jones or Wade Phillips or the nearest fortune teller. But we will know the answer to this burning question soon enough. The table has been set for him. The dirty dishes (read, T.O.) have been cleared away, and now he gets to play with a tea set that doesn’t include a dude as mad as a march hare. If Tony is who the Cowboys think he is, this is his time. He must deliver now.

When you look around the league at the state of the quarterback position on most teams, you have to like the Cowboys’ chances. I echo Tim Cowlishaw’s sentiments (he of the Dallas Morning News):

You don’t get rid of Pro Bowl quarterbacks in the NFL.

You especially don’t get rid of young Pro Bowl quarterbacks in the NFL.

Romo has many critics, detractors, nay-sayers, and I have had a thing or two to say about some of his devil-may-care posturing when the media has turned up the heat on him…

But all you have to do is relive the Anthony Wright, Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, Chad Hutchinson, Clint Stoerner, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Bledsoe years to understand why the only way to go is give your quality quarterback whatever he desires once you have one. (Again, Cowlishaw)

So, where would you rather be this morning? Dallas? Or, Denver? And I ain’t talking the weather, here.