The Cowboys have a quality backup quarterback in Kyle Orton, but in an abbreviated mailbag we present today we field this this question from a trusted reader:
Q: Calvin, the Cowboys need to sign Donovan McNabb to challenge/push Tony Romo into an outstanding QB. We need an excellent backup QB and McNabb fits the bill. I know we will go to the Super Bowl with a QB like McNabb. Great insurance if Romo gets hurt. Tell Jerry that in the past the Cowboys always had a good/excellent backup QB when they won all five Super Bowls. -- Free3 (San Antonio)
A: The Cowboys have Orton and are in capable hands should something happen to Romo. I don't believe McNabb can be a starter in this league anymore. A few years ago, I thought McNabb was the best quarterback in the NFC East. That was before Michael Vick came along, Romo emerged and Eli Manning matured into a star. While I think McNabb is still mobile, he isn't an accurate passer and can't produce the numbers needed to help a team. Is McNabb a good backup? Sure. But not for this team. At this stage of his career, I don't believe Romo needs to be pushed. He understands he needs to get his team into the postseason and make a deep run at a title. A few years ago I would have argued for McNabb over Jon Kitna, but not now.
Q: I am a huge Cowboys fan as well as a Tony Romo fan, but this constant bashing is getting a bit old and ridiculous. The guy wins games and still gets dogged. For instance, look at the games last year against the Giants, Bucs, and Bills, especially New York. If DeMarco Murray doesn't get hurt and the defense actually stops Eli Manning down the stretch, no problem. Do you think if Romo had a Steelers or Ravens defense the Cowboys would have a championship by now? -- Frankie Boisseau (Durham, N.C.)
A: You make some valid points. Last season, the New York Giants didn't have a good secondary -- it was their front seven that did the work. The Ravens were a missed field goal from playing in the Super Bowl. So yes, a strong defense can help you reach the postseason. But I can think of two games -- against the New York Jets and Detroit Lions -- in which Romo's mistakes cost his team. Would those two games have made the difference in the Cowboys making or missing the playoffs? Yes. It's not so much the defense that hurts Romo's chances of reaching his goals. Sometimes, it's his own play. Romo is an excellent quarterback, but he doesn't get to an elite level unless he gets his team on a deep playoff run. What do I mean by deep playoff run? NFC title game or Super Bowl. That's what he needs to do right now.
Q: Picking up a linebacker is fine for insurance purposes, but what are the expectations for Bruce Carter? -- Marc Dula (Clifton Park, N.Y.)
A: Carter is going to compete for starting job with Dan Connor. Carter was a second-round pick who had a first-round grade. Based on this, Carter should be penciled in as the starter, not a player competing for a starting gig with a veteran. Connor is a good player, and I do like the signing, but at some point the people you draft (especially in the second round) need to become starters. Carter missed time last season as he recovered from knee surgery, so his snaps were reduced to special teams and some defensive snaps. Carter will be given a chance to play more this season. Will he start? We'll find out soon.