Archive: In First Career Start, Cowboys QB Hutchinson Surprises No One
(The Dallas Cowboys made the headlines – again – during the 2002 season when they benched second-year quarterback Quincy Carter in favor of rookie Chad Hutchinson, a Stanford product that hadn’t laced it up in four years. The results from his first start against a bad Seattle team only made fans wonder why. Hutchinson was inaccurate, immobile, and slow to react, the very same demerits that wound up getting his predecessor Carter demoted in the first place.)
From the October 28 2002 edition of The Dallas Morning News
by Kevin B. Blackistone
A little past the midway point of the third quarter, Chad Hutchinson took a snap and started a quick jog to the right. The right-hander patted the ball into his left palm once, and again as he continued running toward his own bench.
Now, why a guy not touted for his mobility was all of a sudden asked to run a play that required him to exercise mobility didn’t make much sense. Not after the guy he was ordered to replace, Quincy Carter, was touted for his athleticism, but was handed a playbook that didn’t encourage it. I suspect this is what they call an attempt to cross up the defense.
At any rate, as Hutchinson realized he was about to run out of land, he threw the ball into the ground, maybe 10 yards in front of him.
It counted as Hutchinson’s 16th pass attempt in his first football game in five years that actually mattered. It was his 10th incompletion in that time, too.
Yet, a downpour of boos was unleashed at that moment Sunday in Texas Stadium.
I’ve got to give it to Cowboys fans: They are discerning and unmerciful football critics, as well as equal-opportunity hecklers.
For Hutchinson looked every bit the part of a rookie NFL quarterback making his first start, as well as that of a guy who had been out of football since 1997. He was toothless, no matter that the owner and head coach said they thought he performed OK. Unlike the folks in the stands, Jerry Jones and Dave Campo were just being nice. This is their latest investment under center in which they must be careful not to squander with second-guessing.
Oh, sure, if Ken-Yon Rambo had handled an oh-what-the-heck, 50-yard-plus heave from Hutchinson to the goal line at the end of the first half, maybe things would’ve turned out differently. But Rambo didn’t.
And if you want to count that would’ve-should’ve-could’ve, then you must include a couple of drops of Hutchinson attempts by the Seattle Dodo Birds, a one-win football team before plucking a 17-14 win out of Texas Stadium.
“He didn’t make any mistakes in his first start,” said a brusque Campo of his new QB after his team fell to 3-5. “That’s key.”
So, too, was the whopping 132 yards of passing Hutchinson mustered, the lowest of the season since Carter amassed just 131 in the opener at Houston.
Sunday presented as winnable an opportunity as that Houston game. It was lost much the same way, because of unreliable defense and a feeble offense. If Campo was coaching this one for his job, he’d have been better off with the quarterback whose consecutive weeks of 200 yards passing was considered insufficient.
“I felt pretty good,” Hutchinson said despite the showing. “Coach [Bruce] Coslet said let’s just stay in a position to win. I tried to throw it only to where our receivers could catch it, or I threw it away.
Hutchinson’s numbers came against a defense that stacked the line. It did so in an attempt to stay out of the Canton record book. It didn’t work. The Seahawks wound up going down as the tackling dummies who ultimately allowed Emmitt Smith to break the rushing record.
Hutchinson’s personal record?
He completed just 12 of 24 passes. It was the lowest number of pass completions on the season. The average gain per completion was an anemic 5.1 yards. Smith averaged more than that back in ’93.
He did hit Joey Galloway for a 39-yard score. Galloway was wide open, however, only because one of Seattle’s awful defenders did his impression of a telephone pole falling over in the wind.
All of which brings me back to the silver-and-blue faithful on Sunday. Included among them were those who jeered Carter a couple of weekends ago and called for his understudy Hutchinson. Well, there he was.
He showed a strong arm once or twice, like on that heave to Rambo. He showed tentativeness often, especially aiming some deep passes to open receivers, only to come up short. And he showed ability as a pure-pocket passer to have little option but to go down when the line sprang a leak.
What so many were expecting of Jones’ newest rookie quarterback in his NFL debut, I don’t know. Detroit’s Joey Harrington?
Now that Hutchinson is out there, he deserves more than three quarters to show whatever it is he’s got. It’s not his fault that Jones outbid every other suitor for his services and paid twice as much signing money for him as he did Carter.
Chad Hutchinson didn’t disappoint Sunday. He looked about as good as could be expected, which wasn’t very good at all.