Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin periodically provides us with some very strong words of wisdom regarding the game he played at a high level for so many years.
On the most recent Rich Eisen Podcast on NFL.com, Irvin spoke about the dangers of having a quarterback controversy.
“I’m of the mind that you do not mess with the cranium of the quarterbacks because they have to make room in there to find out how to get me the ball,” Irvin said, via John Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “You can’t mess with their head. . . . They need to know that, ‘My coach is with me.’ I need to be able to take some chances out here to make this thing work without worrying about being yanked the first ball that hits the ground. You got to have a free-mind quarterback.”
He’s right. Quarterbacks who peer over their shoulder tend to grip the ball a little tighter and to hesitate a little bit longer before delivering passes. They fear that they are only one mistake away from being benched, and in many cases that mindset becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
That doesn’t mean that quarterbacks who aren’t getting it done should face no challenges. We don’t necessarily disagree with Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett’s recent opinion that Tony Romo should be required to compete with Jon Kitna. The key is that any competition must end before Week One, with the team picking a horse and riding it until the race ends — or until the horse breaks a leg or, in Romo’s case last year, a collarbone.
And if at the end of the year the decision is made that the quarterback simply isn’t getting it done, well then it’s time to stab him in the neck with a pair of scissors.