We've been in the silver lining portion of the Cowboys season for quite some time now, which is why there's been a good deal of discussion about whether or not to give Stephen McGee some playing time at quarterback.
The answer was always negative. The Cowboys had decent reasons to resist the urge to check out McGee's skills. Jon Kitna was playing well, they were winning games and had a chance to finish the season without losing 10 games. Not much of a thrill, but, like we said, we're looking for silver linings in the manure sandwich of a season that mercifully ends on Sunday.
What's more, Jason Garrett had a vested interest in going with Kitna because he was trying to keep the head coaching job for next season. Throwing out a rookie would make sense if he already had the job or if he knew he was a dead man walking, but it doesn't help a guy trying to impress an owner who made it clear that he was all about saving face over the final weeks of the season.
Those reasons no longer apply. Even if he's able to play, Kitna isn't going to be 100 percent come the weekend and the Cowboys don't have a chance at avoiding that 10th loss any longer. And Garrett's argument for the job is complete. Playing spoiler isn't a real reason, either. Only losers care about making things harder for better teams. Winners care about getting better.
The Garrett issue is also a non-starter. A Week 17 game against an Eagles team with the division wrapped up coming off a ridiculously short week can't be taken seriously as a job audition. And, should Jerry Jones disagree, the only flourish Garrett could put on his application would be showing that he could plug McGee into the team without missing a beat.
That's not the safest bet in the world. You can't write off the fact that McGee looked good on Saturday night just because he was playing the Cardinals, but it is mitigated by the fact that he came in off the bench. Teams are often thrown off their game by the appearance of a quarterback that they didn't prepare for and McGee definitely brought something that Arizona wasn't equipped to deal with. It's harder when a defense is prepared and the Eagles defense is obviously better than the one in the desert.
It's still the right call, however. McGee isn't going to win the starting job during the offseason, but you never know what kind of interest he might create on the trade market with a strong performance. There are positives in the likelier case that he's back as a reserve next year. Win or lose, he'll be a better quarterback because of his opportunity to be on a NFL field in games that mean something and even Double J has to agree that it is all about next season at this point.
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