A Farewell to Arms

Earnest Hemmingway asked the immortal question concerning who was next on the list of the Grim Reaper. His view was as simplistic as the peal of a bell. In an unexpected move by the Cowboy organization, Quincy Carter, the second year quarterback out of Georgia, has been sidelined for an indeterminate amount of time.

Read benched. Chad Hutchinson, once a quarterback for Stanford then a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals has been promoted to starter for the game at Texas Stadium against the Seattle Seahawks. Dave Campo stated flatly that it is his job to lose.

There are so many questions that arise from the play of Carter. It's difficult to assess where he is in the big scheme of the NFL. At times he plays within the system and makes few mistakes. Other times he shows no understanding of the professional game or what his role entails. Mistakes follow.

Sunday's game in Tempe against the Cardinals was a prime example of the latter. His four-interception day looked more like a Clint Stoerner brain cramp or an aged Troy Aikman when Father Time was calling him to the announcer's booth. This shouldn't be the type of day the future of the franchise produces against a lackluster defense such as the Cardinals field. The first pick came on Dallas' first series. The Cowboys started the game off with a whimper, as Quincy couldn't avoid the blitz by Arizona's Adrian Wilson. The Cards telegraphed the blitz and Carter chose to either ignore it or opted not to audible to a safer and quicker pass play. A gargantuan mistake and one most quarterbacks would have avoided.

On second down the Cards then had to call time-out because the Cowboys had a formation, which would have taken advantage of their defensive set. Thus the chess game started. But when time resumed Bruce Coslet, Dallas' offensive guru called for a deep pass. And Quincy delivered come hell or high water.

Antonio Bryant ran a skinny post and Quincy threw into double coverage. What amounted to a punt was the first of many opportunities that went awry at the hand of Carter.

Two series later Carter leads the team in what might have been one of the best drives of the day. The Emmitt of old showed up for this game in the desert with a makeshift line opening holes in a suspect Arizona defense.

The drive, starting at the Dallas 34 yard line, was an 8 play series with Emmitt gaining 23 yards on the ground. Two nice passing plays, both to Antonio Bryant led the Cowboys to the Cardinals 15-yard line. On a roll out to the right, Quincy needed to make 2 yards to gain a first and swing the momentum solidly in Dallas' favor. The pass he threw to the endzone was something seen in a Pop Warner game and was picked off by Arizona's Renaldo Hill. Again the Cards made a play on a ball that should never have been thrown.

Late in the game Carter threw an errant pass and for the third time on Sunday Adrian intercepted the ball. The Cowboys had driven to the Arizona 14 yard line and turned it over in the fourth quarter. Another drive was squashed by Carter making rookie mistakes.

Potential is a fascinating but dangerous word. Potential is the reason teams throw big money and high expectations on college players that have seen not one minute on a professional football field.

Potential is the reason a coach will stick with a player far longer than wisdom would dictate. Hoping the upside overcomes the mistakes as a player learns the league. The unemployment line is filled with coaches that took potential over security.

But at some point the player has to show the lessons are being learned. In the case of Quincy Carter there is a mixed message being sent. At times he seems to be ‘getting it,' and other times he slips back into the poor mechanics and poor decision-making that made his choice in the second round a reach in some ‘experts' eyes. Enter Chad Hutchinson. He will have a baptism-under-fire as the Seahawks will throw everything including the kitchen sink at him. But if Dallas can give him time to throw the ball, one suspects he will not grossly overthrow the receivers that are yards past the defense. His job is to play it safe and move the team and score points. A monumental task, to be sure. Dallas is not making a rash decision by replacing Carter. The team has gone south on him because of his play on the field. Veterans and rookies alike are quietly fuming about a game that was within reach only to be snatched away because the leader couldn't hit the open man. A replay of the Giants fiasco two weeks prior. At some point the management of the team must make changes to keep the team together and focused. Hutch will struggle. Jones will be second-guessed. But if the team scores more frequently than their current 31st ranked offense, the answer will be obvious. This was the correct move. And this move was coming unless Carter found his groove. Just far sooner than most expected.

Dallas had to change the man under center and the arm that was dashing any hopes of victory. With the soft part of the schedule looming, the team needs to force a change and kick start an offense that should be better than the 3-4 record it now enjoys. All hope rides on Hutch. A player that hasn't seen real game action in four years and never in the NFL.

Papa Hemmingway was a man's man. He loved the sportsman's life and wrote about it in many of his stories. One wonders if he would have offered any positive prose about the game between the Cardinals and the Cowboys. Yet like all great authors he frames the questions of life that we all have, but in a more lyrical manner. Stating things we think and putting them into an entertaining package. He asked, ‘For Whom The Bell Toll.' It tolls for thee, Quincy.

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