Training Camp Archives: Starting Quarterback Job Is Quincy Carter’s For The Taking
(When Troy Aikman was released in early March of 2001, a new era of Dallas Cowboys football began. First on Jerry Jones’ to-do list was to find a suitable replacement at quarterback. And by signing veteran Tony Banks it appeared that Jones had done just that. But when preseason began in early August, Randy Galloway sensed that all was not as it seemed. As he saw it, Cowboy management was paving the way for rookie Quincy Carter to win the job from Banks outright.)
From the August 12, 2001 edition of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
by Randy Galloway
Where the Cowboys are concerned, be sure to cherish those precious moments of optimism, such as last weekend in the exhibition season opener. Unfortunately, dreaded reality showed up Saturday night. Reality really stinks.
This was a Texas Stadium snore-fest, screwed up repeatedly and royally on offense, defense and special teams. Other than that, they played poorly.
The Denver Broncos had no other choice, other than cruising to an easy 20-6 victory. But it wasn’t like a Saturday evening in the Irving river bottoms was a total waste of time. At least two pertinent items surfaced, both pertaining to the Cowboys’ future this season:
No. 1. Nobody cares.
There was no official word from team officials, but veteran media observers called it the smallest gathering of humanity for a Cowboys game in the history of Texas Stadium, which opened in 1971. About 20,000, tops. Tractor pulls will put more butts in seats.
No. 2. Quincy, the job is yours, if…
In a halftime television interview, Babe L. says to Jerry J., “There is no way, is there?” Mr. Laufenberg meant no way the Cowboys would be willing to turn loose the rookie, Quincy Carter, as the starting quarterback to open the season.
Jones’ reply was quick, and to the point: “I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”
Actually, Dave Campo has been answering the same question his own way in these first two exhibition games. As in Oakland, Calif., Carter logged more prime playing time than Banks, a veteran who supposedly was signed here earlier in the summer as a cheap ($500,000, one-year contract) way to move past the Troy Aikman era.
But Banks, with his spotty NFL career transcript, needs a multitude of snaps to prepare himself to start. This isn’t Aikman playing a quarter on a hot summer night just to knock off some rust. Instead of being groomed, however, Banks has been allowed only cameo appearance time in the first two games. He starts, but he doesn’t hang around long.
Almost shockingly, Banks was yanked Saturday night after two first-quarter possessions totaling nine snaps and a meager 4 minutes. And he might have had something going on that second possession, except receiver Damon Hodge had an awful drop while running wide open with a lot of green plastic in front of him.
With the Broncos constantly eating up the clock on a helpless Cowboys’ defense, the first offensive possession of the second quarter didn’t come until 9:13. But it was Carter who was in there, and he stayed put until late in the third quarter, accomplishing very little.
Although it goes unsaid, Banks made no friends among decision-makers at Valley Ranch by hanging around his house in June and July, despite his presence being requested on the practice field to throw to receivers. Once training camp opened in Wichita Falls, there was no problem with Banks’ dedication to the job.
But with a reputation in the league for being something less than hardcore in his work habits, Banks immediately angered the very people who had put their tails on the line in the first place by making him a controversial signing.
Carter, although only a rookie, has just the opposite approach to football, and to being a starting quarterback in the league. No less a controversial addition in April than Banks was, although the squawking involved Carter being the Cowboys’ first draft choice, the kid is now being given every opportunity to win the starting job.
With Aikman’s rookie season (1989) in mind, a lot of ups and downs will be involved in the Carter learning process. Last week was an “up” in an impressive debut against Oakland. Saturday night was a definite “down.”
Like everyone else involved in this game for the Cowboys, Carter generated no excitement, except when his name was announced as taking over for Banks in the second quarter. A hearty cheer was heard from the small house, although admittedly, it may have seemed louder than it was due to the echo off thousands of empty seats.
For one thing, Carter had trouble holding on to snaps. Was it nerves or just sweaty palms? And then when receiver Jason Tucker did himself no favors with a wide-open drop, that ended the best touchdown chances of the evening for Carter, who was 6-of-11 for 48 yards. The Cowboys had six first downs in his five possessions.
Hey, kid. Just a thought – don’t be so hesitant to run for it instead of waiting on five-and-dime receivers to pop open.
Performance-wise, Carter got little accomplished, which was a constant theme for the entire Cowboys’ roster. But how the rookie was used Saturday night, particularly compared to Banks, showed us again that the job is his to win, or lose.