Jon Kitna plays key role this week

IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys couldn’t ask for a better scout-team quarterback this week.

Jon Kitna played in Chicago offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s scheme during his days in Detroit. Kitna knows all the intricacies of the prolific passing offense. During practice this week, Kitna has given the defense a good idea of the reads Jay Cutler will make. During meetings with the defensive coaches, he’s shared a few secrets.

“He does know that system and knows where they’re going to throw the ball,” Wade Phillips said. “He’s throwing it quick in practice for us and knows some of the things they’re talking about. He was giving us an idea of what the quarterback’s looking for. That’s been good work for us.”

Phillips is pretty familiar with Martz’s scheme, too. This will be the third time the Cowboys have faced a Martz offense during Phillips’ four-year tenure.

Phillips refers to Martz as an innovative passing mind, but he points out that Martz will stick to the run when it works, contrary to common perception. That isn’t just lip service. Look to the Cowboys’ 28-27 comeback win over the Lions in 2007 as evidence.

Kitna completed 22 of 36 passes for 248 yards that day. Detroit really did damage with the running game. Kevin Jones and T.J. Duckett – far from Hall of Fame-caliber backs – combined for 152 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries.

The Cowboys shut down Martz’s running game the next season in a 35-22 win over San Francisco. But journeyman quarterback Shaun Hill passed the ball effectively, completing 21 of 33 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns with one pick.

Thanks in part to Kitna, the Cowboys ought to be well prepared for Martz’s scheme Sunday.