The skinny on Bollinger

October, 28, 2008
10/28/08
12:04
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Before we begin talking about Cowboys backup quarterback Brooks Bollinger, let's learn how to pronounce his last name correctly. It's BALL-in-jer, not BOWL-in-jer.

 
 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
 Brooks Bollinger could see action against the Giants on Sunday.

With that out of the way, we should discuss Bollinger's chances of playing Sunday in the Meadowlands. At least one Dallas columnist thinks Bollinger should only enter the game against the Giants if the Cowboys fall behind by 10 points. But after watching Brad Johnson on Sunday, I'm convinced Bollinger should take over as the starter.

Yes, I know he has a career record of 2-8 that would likely fall to 2-9, but he's 12 years younger than the 40-year-old Johnson and he's capable of throwing the ball 20 yards downfield without a running start. At this point, Johnson is a sitting duck in the pocket. The Giants sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times Sunday -- and he's considered a mobile quarterback. Johnson is considered sedentary.

Last night, I called a member of the Cowboys coaching staff to discuss Bollinger's work on the scout team this season. Apparently Bollinger has been giving the defense a good look.

"When we needed someone to act like [Donovan] McNabb, Bollinger did an excellent job," said the assistant. "He can slide out of the pocket and make accurate throws to the backside. I don't know how that would translate in a game, but he can make all the throws in practice."

So what do you have to lose -- other than a game to the Giants? Surely the Cowboys don't believe that the 13 points they put up Sunday could win a game against Eli Manning and the Giants.

According to an Ed Werder report Monday, the Cowboys will explore all their options at the quarterback position -- and Bollinger seems to be the only alternative to Johnson. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has to be upset that offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson convinced him that Johnson could get the job done. He can get you through one game, but having to play him three consecutive weeks is something a team can't overcome. And if you think I'm being harsh, look at what the other teams in the division have at the backup spot.

Based on his performance last season, Washington's Todd Collins might be the best backup in the league. The Eagles have a second-round draft choice backing up McNabb in Kevin Kolb and the Giants brought in former first-round pick David Carr to back up Manning.

These three teams at least prepared for a worst-case scenario. The Cowboys gambled and lost. They're now heading into a key divisional game with no viable candidate at quarterback.

As I've said since Tony Romo went down with a broken pinkie, Bollinger gives this team the "best shot" at winning. Johnson's a good guy and he knows the offense as well as anyone. But his physical limitations prevent the Cowboys from using their offensive weapons. In a Johnson-led offense, T.O. might as well be playing fullback.

Bollinger led Wisconsin to a Rose Bowl victory in 2000 and is 3-0 in bowl games. I still go back and watch that Alamo Bowl victory from time to time. Bollinger also ran for 1,767 yards during his four years in Madison. Johnson's best season on the ground came in 1997, when he rumbled for 139 yards for the Vikings.

The Giants have 17 years of tape on Johnson. They'd have to scramble to find Bollinger's early days with the Jets. OK, I rest my case. Anxious to hear what you guys think.

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