Testing 1, 2, 3

Pittsburgh, the city of Three Rivers, steel workers, and Heinz Catsup was ground zero for the final exam of Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson. Both quarterbacks – like two gunfighters facing each other at high noon – would vie for the starting position in a contest against the Steelers, and winner take all.

The stage was set for Bill Parcells and an untold numbers of fans to watch as each gave their best. The results are in.

Quincy Carter started the game and had the first quarter to strut his stuff. His first series was less than Hall of Fame, but he turned in a performance that got the team into the endzone. A 5-yard pass to the sidelines capped off a fourteen-play drive, where Joey Galloway beat a defender to the pylon. The drive featured a nifty 12-yard run on a third down as Carter squirted through the pass rush and gained a first. It also had Quincy's longest pass of the day, a 13-yarder to Dan Campbell, the tight end.

Quincy's night ended with an 8 for 12 performance and 67-yards. He was efficient and moved the ball after a rocky start on his first series.

Chad retorted with an 8 of 16 effort and 86 yards also leading the team to a touchdown. But he also fumbled the ball away once and any chance of being the starter against Atlanta. Chad tossed a terrific laser beam of a pass for 22-yards, again to Joey Galloway on his first play. A pass that causes fans and coaches alike to wonder about the potential of Mr. Hutchinson. Galloway did some nice work on the sidelines to avoid one defender and gain some nice yards after the catch.

Quincy Carter appears to have overtaken Chad Hutchinson for the starting quarterback position.
But Chad, per usual, suffered from a collapsing pocket and took a sack on the next play. Even a very nice pass to Jason Witten for 8-yards couldn't get the Cowboys close enough to keep the drive alive.

Carter has been poised throughout pre-season, and the rush doesn't seem to rattle him as much as it did when he was a rookie. On a play where the pocket was breaking down, Carter stepped up and dumped the ball off to a runningback. Taking what the defense would give, and buying time as he found an open man, indicates Carter is maturing as professional.

To Chad's credit, he made the competition close throughout the off-season and camp. He is also gaining in his confidence and experience. And perhaps if Quincy can maintain his composure this season, Chad can give him a better run for his money next year. Many thought Chad should sit and watch, and we may see this come to pass as Carter takes the helm.

So for Chad to lose the job he should have never been competing for this early is no disgrace. He makes better decisions than Carter and is much more accurate. But this is about winning and not taking your lumps as Chad gains the needed exposure for him to catch up to the professional game.

"In general, it's who we think we can go with and win early," Jerry Jones said. A cryptic indication that Carter should be the man against Atlanta.

Chad needs seasoning and a better offensive line to protect him. Quincy has the ability to feel the pressure and find an escape route. Chad does not.

Quincy gives the team a better shot now at winning. But what this game did tell us is that there isn't a great deal of difference between these two. "I'm going to look at the film, and probably let you guys know the beginning of next week," Parcells said. But at the end of his comment he added, "Try to," which indicates this is a close call.

Defenses know Chad's shortcomings and work to close the pocket with extra men or stunts. Pressure distracts Hutchinson and defensive coordinators will use that advantage until either the line is fixed or Chad gains a comfort level.

Thursday's contest had two blitzers coming from the defenses left. Cason stepped up and blocked one but Chad couldn't get away from the other. And here is where he can't truly compete with Quincy unless the line protects.

Parcells, if he truly expects to win any games this season, must choose Quincy. Because he has the tools to buy the time the line cannot. He also, one would expect, have the humanity to not toss Chad under the bus.

So the grand experiment has come to a close. Although those on the inside won't admit it formally. Yet naming the starter is only a formality now as outlined by Jerry's comment. Quincy should be the starter as of September 7th. How long he will hold that job is anyone's guess.

A great man once told me in the valley of the blind; the one eyed man is king. So until the Cowboys make a move for someone that can elevate this team to the play-offs again. Hail Quincy. Long live the King.

CowboysHQ Top Stories