- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 30, 2003

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter wasn’t having a lot of fun this time last year. After throwing four interceptions in a 9-6 loss to lowly Arizona, Carter had been benched in favor of untested Chad Hutchinson for the final nine games of another 5-11 season.

The offseason hiring of taskmaster Bill Parcells as coach didn’t seem likely to enhance Carter’s chances of regaining his job. Parcells had a firm preference for pocket passers like Drew Bledsoe and wise old heads like Vinny Testaverde.

“I believe in pressing players,” Parcells said. “Pressure is what all of us on this earth respond to. Some respond favorably; others respond unfavorably. The good quarterbacks I’ve had would probably not agree with a lot of things I did, but retrospectively they probably all now understand. I don’t think any of them would say they were worse for wear because of that. I think they would all say they probably benefited from it.”

The mobile Carter, who beat out the strong-armed Hutchinson this summer, has, too.

Despite an ugly outing in Sunday’s 16-0 loss to Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay, Carter is a respectable seventh among NFC passers with a 79.3 rating, 11.1 points better than his figure for his first two seasons. More importantly, the Cowboys are 5-2 and atop the NFC East heading into Sunday’s home game against the division rival Washington Redskins.

“I’ve never seen Quincy take a back seat to anybody,” said Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey, Carter’s teammate at Georgia. “When he came to Georgia, people weren’t sure how much he would play, but he started in his freshman year. Quincy had some rough times his first couple of years in Dallas, but he never got down on himself. Every time things went bad, he bounced back somehow.”

And Carter is thriving, not just surviving, under Parcells’ tough love approach.

“If you have a coach who prepares you the way Coach Parcells has prepared me, you can go out and play with confidence,” Carter said. “I accept what he teaches me. I accept constructive criticism. He gets on us pretty hard, but I understand the message. The way he stays on me — I need that. I’ve really grown up as a quarterback because of having a guy like Coach Parcells around.”

Having watched him on film, the Redskins can attest to Carter’s development.

“In the past, you never knew which Quincy was going to show up,” Bailey said. “One day he looked like Brett Favre. The next day he didn’t look as good. But this year he has been more consistent in not making the mistakes that have killed him in the past.”

Added defensive back David Terrell: “Quincy’s sitting in the pocket and being very patient and when [an open receiver isnt] there, he’s using his feet to make plays.”

Redskins defensive coordinator George Edwards, a Cowboys assistant during Carter’s rookie year, said the quarterback has matured and become more consistent.

“Quincy could always move his feet and make the big throw,” Edwards said. “His biggest thing was [a lack of] consistency. He’s not as nervous as he was when he was a youngster. He’s more focused. When Quincy drops back, he knows exactly what he’s looking at. He’s got someone who trusts him and believes in him, and that’s a big part of his success.”

Although Carter threw two bad interceptions in the loss to the Buccaneers while passing for 55 yards, Parcells isn’t ready to hook the 26-year-old Decatur, Ga., native.

“Quincy has done a reasonably good job of being willing to take coaching, putting the time in study-wise,” Parcells said. “He has been a little less than perfect [on the field, but] I’ve been most impressed with his managing the game, generally avoiding negative plays, generally avoiding impulse throws. [This summer] Quincy performed better than the other players and gave us the best chance to win. I don’t know if that will continue, but I’m hopeful that it does and that he continues to grow.”

The New York Giants’ Phil Simms and New England’s Bledsoe grew into Pro Bowl passers for playoff teams in their second seasons under Parcells. Testaverde had a career year at 35 for the New York Jets in 1998, his first under Parcells.

So history is on Carter’s side. And at least for now, so is Parcells.

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