There Is Still No Wavering On Backup QB

evidently the magic number for all good quarterbacks to lose their arms, or at least what many would have you believe. It's like, "he's 40, he can't possibly throw the ball anymore." Heck, Roger Staubach is 60, and I'm guessing he could still break your hand with a pass.

"I think we knew what Brad Johnson was when we brought him in here," Garrett said, "and I think the Redskins probably knew what he was when they brought him in there in 1998, and Tampa did, too. He's a certain style of quarterback.

"He's got plenty of arm, he's got plenty of ability to move, and what we love about him is his experience, his ability to go into a game in a moment's notice and execute our offense. And it's his leadership and his ability to function as a quarterback, that's what you're looking for in a backup."

Which is pretty priceless for a backup, especially the part about being able to go into a game in a moment's notice without having taken a bundle of practice reps for eons, and still being able to function, sort of the microwave position of football.

"Hard to find guys like that, and what he does out on the field for us speaks for itself," Garrett said.

That's not me, that's Garrett, your assistant head coach saying all that. Now I guess Garrett is not immune to making mistakes in judgment, but don't think just because of Johnson's performance against San Diego that suddenly the Cowboys are scouring a deserted landscape for a backup quarterback. Maybe a third quarterback with a little experience, as I've previously suggested, but not the immediate backup.

The Cowboys' coaching staff understands the pick Johnson threw against the Chargers had nothing to do with arm strength. He was throwing an out and Patrick Crayton ran a stop-and-go. His perceived immobility - here's that 40-year-old thing again - had nothing to do with the two sacks he took. Both were blown blocking assignments by rookies.

In fact, I thought he threw the ball as good in that game as I've seen him since he got here. Johnson, affectionately nicknamed by his receivers "Check Down," for usually taking the safer route by throwing the underneath passes instead of firing carelessly down field, did have that nice 21-yard post completion to Miles Austin, and wisely checked down to Felix Jones on an out the rookie turned into a 28-yard gain.

That's what you want from your backup quarterback, smart, high-percentage decisions. Not some sort of swashbuckler taking chances that invariably will get you beat by throwing irresponsibly down field when you haven't thrown many of those passes during maybe your 10 snaps with the first team in practice. Maybe.

The last thing you want out of your backup quarterback is a risk-taker who gets you beat. You want that guy to allow the other guys to win the game.

Plus, when watching the Cowboys work against the Broncos Wednesday morning, it became quite obvious the receivers, including Terrell Owens, were running different kinds of routes when Johnson was in there than when Romo was running the offense. Yep, things were less vertical and more horizontal, and that's by design.

It's not as if Johnson gets in the huddle and proclaims, "listen guys, my old arm is about to fall off, so please, please just run a bunch of five-yard curls". Come on.

"People always say you run the same offense," Garrett said, "well sure you do, but there are certain things Tony does well, there are certain things Witten does well, there are certain things that Marion does well that you naturally try to get to those things. And it's the same thing with the quarterback.

"Now there are some things he has a lot more experience with than other things, and we'll try to highlight and feature those things."

What the Cowboys would like to do, and maybe this Saturday in the preseason game against the Broncos, is get Johnson some work with the first-team offense - the guys he would be playing alongside if he ever had to go in for an injured Romo. See, normally in these preseason games and usually always in practice, when Johnson goes in, so goes in the backup offensive line, receivers and running

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