Cowhead's Two-headed QB Scheme (Aug. 27th)
As yunz should have seen by now, Little Billy has decided not to decide on a starting QB. Rather, he'll play it by feel, and go with whomever he presumably "likes the look in his eyes" (as he said last week about Stewart), with the plan that either QB could start and either could come in during the game and relieve as needed.
There's a few pros and cons on this, and some considerations as well.
First off, we've seen this already, back in the stretch run of the '96 season. With Mike Prozac struggling at QB, Cowhead went to the 2-headed QB scheme, with mixed results. The offense sputtered down the stretch, and then was absolutely wretched in the embarrassing blowout loss to New England in the playoffs.
The pro, is that at least Cowhead is not stuck on using Stewart for the 1st 3 or 4 full games of the regular season, as is his want. We've seen enough of Stewart, and his vast struggles, this preseason to realize that this man has no business being entrenched as a starting QB. This is not to forever dismiss him as a starting QB, but as of right now, his play is not nearly adequate enough to be inked in as the starting QB.
The cons, as anyone who remembers the slumbering home-stretch of the '96 season can attest to, are many. The on-field QB never gets comfortable, and is always looking over his shoulder, for the "other guy" to come trotting out in relief. The bigger issue is one of what a QB inherently is, on the field and in regard to his team. The QB is more than just another position. The QB is one of the leaders, if not THE leader, of the offense. The QB sets the tone and calls the play in the huddle. Each QB has his own distinct cadence, which, when changed from QB to QB, can cause false start penalties or general hesitation. When the QB position is manned by a couple of men shuttling in and out like dime defensive backs, chaos reigns supreme. And practice time with the 1st team, if split between 2 QBs, means that neither man, and his already-confused receiving corps, gets any more than half the snaps that a true starting QB should. And judging from how slovenly the offensive passing execution has been this preseason, the last thing this offense needs is LESS repetitions with a starting QB.
If Little Billy had half a brain -- and I know that's asking a bit much -- here's what he'd do: Start Graham, who clearly has looked far better, and bring in Stewart for a play or 2 now and then, or a series, just to confound opposing defenses and to run some designed free-form type plays that take advantage of Stew's athleticism. Prior to the '96 Prozac-Stewart 2-headed fiasco, Little Billy Cowher actually used Stewart quite well, in the '95 season that took this team to the Super Bowl. O'Donnell was the clear starter, but rookie Stewart took some QB snaps each game from midseason on, and gave defenses fits with all the possibilities he brought to the table. Though Graham is no O'Donnell, he's good enough to do the basics, and Stewart can add a spark with his athleticism and short-dose contributions. Although this clearly goes against the grain and dogma of Kevin Gilbride, Stewart could be inserted and ordered to run designed boots, rollouts, options, reverses, and so forth, rather than blandly running Jerome Bettis against an 8-man front for a 1-yard gain.
To not make a decision, is actually a decision. Little Billy thinks he's slick and clever with his avoiding the QB decision, but he actually has decided not to decide. Let us hope that Cowher quickly comes to his senses and make a decision during the bye-week after week 1, so that this team can at least give it their best shot the remainder of the season.
The Still Mill