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Monday, May 26, 2014
Comparing Cowboys, Pats take on QBs

By Todd Archer

IRVING, Texas -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was one of Peter King’s subjects in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column, and there are a couple of nuggets worth relating to the Dallas Cowboys.

Brady
The Patriots took quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the draft's second round and he is viewed as Brady's successor. Brady turns 37 in training camp and has been the starter since early in the 2001 season.

I’m sure Ryan Mallett was viewed by some as Brady’s potential successor when New England took him in the third round in 2011, but he has played little as he enters a contract year.

“I had a pretty good idea we’d take a quarterback,” Brady told King. “Coach Belichick doesn't care who the quarterback is here. He’s always going to play the guy who he thinks gives him the best chance to win. It’s not my role to choose players here, thankfully. And this is not the first time they’ve taken another quarterback either. There’s no entitlement in the NFL. I don’t expect to be given anything. I just hope I’m the one most entitled to play that position for a long time here.”

It was different from how the Cowboys worked.

The Cowboys had a chance to select Johnny Manziel in the draft's first round on May 8 but passed in part because they knew the type of circus the aura of Johnny Football would bring once Tony Romo has a poor throw/series/quarter/half/game/month.

The Cowboys even informed Romo before the draft they would not take Manziel.

Romo
The Cowboys also have a sizable investment in Romo with the six-year, $108 million extension he signed last year. They ended up passing on quarterbacks altogether in the draft. Part of their reasoning is their belief in Romo and part of it is they don’t want to develop a quarterback for another team.

The Cowboys’ thinking on not picking Manziel was not incorrect. It had the opportunity to be a big distraction made even bigger because of the national attention the Cowboys receive. Roger Staubach saw the potential pitfalls of a Manziel/Cowboys marriage and suggested a quarterback controversy can tear a team apart.

The other quote from Brady that stood out had to do with his offseason work.

“Sometimes we’ll be watching tape and [offensive coordinator] Josh McDaniels will say to me, 'What happened on that play?' And I’ll say, ‘I missed it. I just missed it.' Throwing a football is a very, very tough to thing to do consistently well. Other sports too. You think when LeBron tries a three-pointer he’s aiming for the back of the rim, hopes he hits the back of the rim? Of course not. On an approach shot in golf, are you trying to miss by four feet? No -- you want to get it in, or within two inches. That’s why, to me, it’s so important to work in the offseason perfecting mechanics. Say you’re off 1 percent on your mechanics of throwing in one week, and you don’t fix it. Over four weeks, if you keep going, that’s 4 percent that you’re off. And you say, ‘Why am I not throwing the ball as crisply as I need to? I was the 199th pick in the draft for a reason. I need to maximize my efficiency, my mechanics and my reps to be sure I stay on top of my game.”

In talking to Romo last week, he referenced the importance of working in the offseason. Last year he could not take part in the organized team activities or the minicamp because of surgery to remove a cyst from his back. While his final 2013 stats -- 31 touchdowns, 10 interceptions in 15 starts -- look really good, Romo did not have the same freedom of movement that he had in previous years. His 7.2 yards per attempt were a career low (the previous low had been 7.6).

Was that a product of missing the offseason? Perhaps.

Romo said he is close to 100 percent and will take part in the OTAs, which start Tuesday, and June minicamp, but be on a “pitch count.” He likes the offseason because he can tinker with his mechanics to speed up his delivery or footwork. He also has his third different playcaller in as many years in Scott Linehan.

There is a difference between watching and doing when you are learning new things. Last year he had to watch. Now he can do.

"It's amazing how much you can improve in an offseason as an athlete, a football player, a quarterback," Romo said last week. "I think one of the great joys is attacking your craft and being a better player than when you left. This offseason has started off that way."