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No Way Around The Guy Columnist 
Jan. 14, 2004, 5:34 p.m. (CST)   

Peyton Manning. 
Daunte Culpepper. 
Donovan McNabb. 
Ben Roethlisberger. 
Chad Pennington. 
Michael Vick. 
Tom Brady. 
Marc Bulger. 


But had the Cowboys qualified for the playoffs this year, could Carter have done this: All eight starting quarterbacks this past weekend passed for at least 216 yards, and seven of them passed for at least 279 yards. Favre was the only one who didn't, and look what happened to him. 

In fact, half of those playoff quarterbacks threw for more than 300 yards, with Peyton Manning topping out at 457. That's serious stuff, and out of Carter's league. 

In this day of the NFL, you had better be able to sling the ball around, and I mean down the field. Sure, a running game is nice, and these quarterbacks do at least need the threat of a running game. But no one last week ran their way to victory. 

In fact, the leading rushers that first round of the playoffs were Ahman Green and LaDainian Tomlinson. Both totaled 80 yards. Maybe it's coincidence. Both lost. 

Not Edgerrin James, Curtis Martin, Marshall Faulk, Tatum Bell or Shaun Alexander rushed for more than 66 yards in the first round of the playoffs. Shoot, Daunte Culpepper's 54 yards ranked sixth best among the leading rushers. 

All meaning, even though Julius Jones appears to be the real deal, gaining 819 yards and scoring seven touchdowns in eight games, the Cowboys have a long ways to go repairing that quarterback position if they are to jump back into NFL elite status. 

Obviously, Vinny Testaverde would be no more than a temp if he were re-signed for next year, and ideally no more than your veteran backup. If Henson is all that, then time to get him ready if he's ready to get ready or allow Vinny to buy him the necessary time. 

But if no one thinks he's potentially "they guy," then time to plunge into serious quarterback speculating without being reckless. Hey, isn't that how the Cowboys got out of their late 1980's dilemma, having gone three consecutive years with losing seasons and having gone six consecutive seasons without winning a playoff game? 

They spent the first pick in the draft on Troy Aikman in 1989, and how fortunate they were to have the first pick correspond with Aikman's availability. Then, unbeknownst to them, they would spend the first pick in the 1990 draft to select Steve Walsh in the '89 supplemental draft. 

In essence, they used consecutive first picks in the draft to ensure they had a viable solution at quarterback. 

How'd all that turn out? 

This is not the first time I've said this, and it won't be the last. The Cowboys just can't minimize the quarterback position as they have now over the past four seasons. And I do understand the extenuating circumstances causing this, what with no first-round pick after Aikman was released nor any cap space. 

But now, if there is a bold stroke available for a worthy quarterback, stroke on. And I'm not saying spend lavishly on just "a guy." He at least must have "the guy" capability. 

OK, he might not be Aikman. Heck, he might not be Roger Staubach. But can I at least have Danny White? 

The league dictates as much these days. Just look at the list.   


!   Now, I'll be the first to appreciate home-field advantage in the playoffs, and but come on, the Patriots leaving their already questionable grass surface uncovered during the rainstorm striking the Boston area Wednesday night. Does the NFL have to police everything? 
!   Jets coach Herm Edwards said Quincy Carter will not play in Saturday's game at Pittsburgh since he returned home to Georgia to be with his ill mother and had missed the past two practices. Brooks Bollinger must serve as the backup to Chad Pennington, who did return to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's with a stomach virus. 
!   Joe Bailey, the former Cowboys long-time executive who served as Tex Schramm's vice president for 12 years and also worked as a scout and business manager early in his 19-year association with

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