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Star Telegraph- Carter plans to follow through


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Posted on Fri, Oct. 31, 2003

Carter plans to follow through

By Clarence E. Hill Jr.

Star-Telegram Staff Writer


(Quincy) CARTER

IRVING - It was a simple question that brought a feisty response from Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter.

Sitting in the team's lunch room Monday, less than 24 hours after his worst outing of the season in a 16-0 spanking by Tampa Bay, Carter was asked if he was planning on addressing the media.

"Why wouldn't I?" Carter responded. "I come in after wins. I will talk after losses. It was just one loss. Nothing's changed."

Maybe to Carter, who returned to team headquarters not long after the Cowboys' return flight landed Sunday for his postgame ritual of watching film.

His routine of coming to work early and staying well past dark also has remained the same this week.

Emboldened by his early-season performances -- his stellar play was considered a key factor in the NFC-East-leading Cowboys' five-game winning streak -- Carter believes the Buccaneers game was merely a hiccup.

More pointedly, the third-year veteran from Georgia expects a return to normalcy when the Cowboys (5-2) face the Washington Redskins (3-4) on Sunday.

"We need to rebound from last week," Carter said. "We need to get our swagger back. I am pretty positive we are going to get back headed in the right direction."

Though Carter talked mostly from a team vernacular, he might as well have said: "I need to rebound." "I need to get my swagger back." "I am positive I am going to get back headed in the right direction."

Because things have indeed changed.

His performance against Tampa Bay, which included two interceptions, no offensive scores and a 42.1 quarterback rating, has wrought renewed questions about his long-term viability as the Cowboys' quarterback.

Coach Bill Parcells laid down the gauntlet before the season when he said the true test of a team or individuals comes through adversity.

And when Carter returned to the huddle Wednesday, Parcells only upped the ante.

He said the team's fast start and first-place status has changed expectations for everybody and referred to the next five games as showtime if the Cowboys hope to make something substantive out of their early sizzle. The same could be said about the play of certain individuals as well, though with more long-term implications.

Because while the next month might determine what the Cowboys do in 2003, it also could determine who they are doing it with in 2004 and beyond.

"I think I'll know more about the team definitively at the end of this month," Parcells said. " I'll know more about the players. I'll know more about the future. I'll know more about what has to be done here. I told the players that. This is it. You need to step up, and let's see what you can do. And the guys that can do that, I want them to be a part of it, but the ones who can't, we'll be looking to do something about it."

Parcells didn't call out Carter by name. But Carter knows he's especially talking about him, considering the importance of the quarterback position.

Carter believes he will answer the challenge and continue to better a performance level that has many calling him the league's most improved player.

His stats are eerily similar to what they were last year when he was benched in favor of Chad Hutchinson after seven games, the final one a four-interception performance against the Cardinals.

In 2003, he has completed 118 of 201 passes for 1,507 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. His completion percentage is 58.7 and his quarterback rating is 79.3.

Last season, he completed 125 of 221 passes for 1,465 yards with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. His completion percentage was 56.6 and his quarterback rating was 72.3.

Carter remains disappointed that he was never allowed to rebound from last season's rocky performance against Arizona.

But he says the facts that he reclaimed the job in training camp and remains the starter prove that he is a much different quarterback than last year.

"I can't even compare last year to this year," Carter said. "It's not comparable. I am a lot more prepared. I am starting to understand what a quarterback means to his football team. I am working hard, and I am going to keep working hard so I can be the best quarterback I can be for this football team."

Carter, who has led the 2003 Cowboys to 56 more points and two more wins through seven games, credits his early success to a more supportive coaching staff, maturity and an improved work ethic. They are also the reasons he is confident he will continue to get better and answer Parcells' challenge during this crucial stretch.

"We need to turn it up," Carter said. "Every game means something from here on out. We need to go out and make sure we are giving our maximum effort. It's time for all of us to step our games up to the next level."

Carter, who has thrived with big-play strikes to receivers Antonio Bryant, Joey Galloway and Terry Glenn, should have an opportunity to get back on track against the Redskins' banged-up secondary.

Cornerback Champ Bailey will play despite a fractured wrist and bruised shoulder. Cornerback Fred Smoot is almost certainly out because of a severely bruised chest. Top reserve cornerback Rashad Bauman is hobbled by a sprained ankle, meaning that starting opposite Bailey could be David Terrell, a converted safety.

As for Carter, he's doing it the only way he knows how. With hard work, a low-key, even-keel approach and facing the media after losses just as he did after wins.

Q turns

Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter has made some big one-game turnarounds after losses in his three-year career. Here are a few:

The loss: 17-10 at Cardinals, Dec. 23, 2001. Carter goes 16-28-1 for 176 yards, 1 TD. QB rating of 58.0. Sacked once.

Next game: Beats 49ers 27-21. Goes 15-25-1 for 240 yards, 2 TDs. QB rating of 118.0. Sacked once.

The loss: 19-10 at Texans, Sept. 8, 2002. Goes 13-30-1 for 131 yards, no TDs. QB rating of 42.5. Sacked three times.

Next game: Beats Titans 21-13. Goes 14-24-0 for 240 yards, 2 TDs. QB rating of 120.1. Sacked once.

The loss: 44-13 at Eagles, Sept. 22, 2002. Goes 21-35-0 for 201 yards, 1 TD. QB rating of 64.1. Sacked three times.

Next game: Beats Rams 13-10. Goes 26-36-1 for 204 yards, 1 TD. QB rating of 83.6. Sacked twice.

The loss: 27-13 vs. Falcons, Sept. 7, 2003. Goes 16-32-1 for 268 yards, 1 TD. QB rating of 73.4. Sacked three times.

Next game: Beats Giants 35-32 (OT). Goes 25-40-1 for 321 yards, no TDs. QB rating of 77.2. Sacked four times.

The loss: 16-0 at Bucs, Oct. 26, 2003. Goes 15-25-2 for 140 yards, no TDs. QB rating of 42.1. Sacked four times.

Next game: Sunday vs. Redskins.


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