Kitna's arm means Cowboys mustn't change dramatically

Posted Oct. 29, 2010 @ 9:56 a.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

There are actually silver linings to the Tony Romo collarbone injury that will keep him out at least six weeks at a time when there are very few Mr. Brightsides in the Greater Dallas area. Although Jon Kitna played in Week Seven for the first time in regular-season action in more than a year, he is still regarded as having a very strong arm.

Arm strength might be overrated on the list of QB qualities, but it means one very important thing to the Cowboys. The design of the offense won't have to change dramatically now as it did two seasons ago when Romo got hurt. Then, Brad Johnson's subpar arm really changed the offense and severely hindered the wide receivers' route tree from opening up.

And though Kitna started slowly in his relief appearance, he got going — even if it was against a defense that was sagging a bit in "safe" mode — and did so by finding emerging target Dez Bryant. Kitna twice found Bryant for touchdowns, and there is no question that the Cowboys will design as many Bryant-bound plays as they can, just as they are flirting with the idea of using him as a kick returner on special teams.

Ask Roy Williams, and he will gush about Kitna. The two each had career seasons as a battery in 2006 when Kitna threw for 4,208 yards and Williams put up 82 catches for 1,310 yards. It is interesting to note, however, that Kitna barely looked Williams' way in the three quarters they were on the field together against the Giants.

It's a minor concern, but worth noting, that Miles Austin has had a problem with drops this season, with four total. He says it's a matter of not looking the ball into his hands completely and trying to make a move before he completes the catch. Austin's renewed focus in this area could be a big benefit for Kitna, who has been known to be errant at times with his passes.

The biggest knocks on him always have been fumbles and interceptions, which is not good news for a team that is minus-5 on turnovers/takeaways this season. But his skills are similar enough to Romo's that the offense won't have to make wholesale changes.