The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Tough to Win Without QB1

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In 1972, the Miami Dolphins lost starting quarterback Bob Griese to a broken leg in the fifth game of the season. The team was able to maintain an unbeaten record through the regular season with veteran backup Earl Morrall, and through the postseason upon Griese's return, because they were the most fundamentally sound team in football.

The Dolphins had an amazing ground game with Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris. They also had a defense that rarely made a mistake, and an offensive line packed with Hall of Fame talent. Of course, the biggest asset was the leadership and toughness of head coach Don Shula. Moral of the story: If you're going to win without your franchise quarterback, you'd best have the rest of your house in order.

The Cowboys without Tony Romo aren't even close. Brad Johnson is a decent veteran stopgap, but he's about as mobile as a granite countertop. This does not bode well, as the Dallas offensive line has been more vulnerable than expected of late, and Johnson has to face the Giants and Bucs during Romo's rehab. The Redskins win showed how the Dallas secondary can be exploited, and that was before the Terence Newman injury and the Adam Jones fiasco. Backfield weapon Felix Jones is also out with a hamstring problem, and this puts the balance of the offense on Marion Barber. Johnson is not going to have time to roll back on nice, relaxing seven-step drops -- he'll be checking down to backs and tight ends a lot.

Guess who's going to be annoyed by that?

Romo's actually a pretty good quarterback -- better than some give him credit for, as his risk-reward style fits the team and causes equal parts exhilaration and exasperation -- but his presence or absence isn't the primary issue. The real problem is that the team around whichever quarterback is taking snaps from center has too many issues to close ranks and make it through the hard times.

By Doug Farrar  |  October 14, 2008; 10:24 AM ET  | Category:  NFL , Quarterbacks Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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