- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It didn’t pay an immediate dividend and it may not benefit his team in the short-term, but Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells’ decision to bench his immobile, struggling, aging quarterback in favor of his strong-armed, young, inexperienced quarterback Monday night against the New York Giants was a stroke of genius.

Drew Bledsoe’s careless interception late in the first half was enough for Parcells to make a change that most Cowboys observers thought inevitable. Out went Bledsoe and in went Tony Romo, a fourth-year player who had two regular season snaps — both kneel downs — entering the season.

Romo went 14-for-25 for 227 yards, two touchdown and three interceptions as the Cowboys fell to 3-3 with a 36-22 defeat to the Giants.

“Some good, some bad,” Parcells said of Romo.

All of which brings us to the Washington Redskins, they of the dismal 2-5 record entering their bye weekend and a quarterback, Mark Brunell, who is having similar problems as Bledsoe.

Joe Gibbs should take a cue from his long-time NFC East adversary even though Jason Campbell may not give the Redskins a better chance at winning than the manage-the-game, throw-45-screen-passes-a-game Brunell.

Parcells saw his team, which fell to 3-3, wasn’t getting any better with Bledsoe at quarterback. He knew the next three weeks are trips to Carolina, Washington and Arizona. He realized that he needed to see what Romo can do against the best teams.

So he made the proper decision, cutting his losses in the short term so the Cowboys can find out over their final 10 games if Romo is their quarterback for 2007, or if hey need to explore other options to find a new starter.

Parcells will bristle when Romo gets into his “some good, some bad” routine throughout the final two months of the season. But he’ll likely be thankful he made the decision when Romo is more comfortable in the huddle next September.

Parcells undoubtedly thought long and hard about when to play Romo because it’s not his reputation to make myriad switches. This was only the fifth in-game change in a head coaching career that started in 1983 (this is his 19th season as a head coach). From 1984 to 1997, a span of 12 seasons, he made no changes.

Gibbs used to have a quick trigger. During his 14-plus seasons with the Redskins, he is believed to have made eight performance-related changes involving Jay Schroeder-Doug Williams, Mark Rypien-Williams and Mark Brunell-Patrick Ramsey.

Gibbs Version 2.0 has been highlighted by an unwillingness to bench Brunell. In 2004, he waited until midway through Game 9 to insert Ramsey. He was quick to jettison Ramsey after one game last year, though.

But his constant defense of Brunell means it looks like next September will be the first time Redskins fans will have a chance to see Campbell. Gibbs said Monday changing quarterbacks isn’t a “focus” for him now, which is short-sighted and isn’t in the best interest of the franchise. Brunell will still have his moments, but at this point, the best move is sacrificing a few winnable games to see if Campbell can play.

If Campbell doesn’t get his first start until Week 1 next year, the Redskins could be looking at a similar 2-5 start. Better to have the “some good, some bad” moments happen this season than the beginning of next season.

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