If you’re like me, you often deal with baleful voices arguing inside your head. If you’re like me, you’re also a Cowboys fan.
The combination of these two haunting characteristics makes for massive internal conflict. Every year the conflict is different, but every year the same man provokes it: Jerry Jones. Some years it’s “should Jerry risk it all and draft Johnny Football?” Other years it’s “should Jerry try to resign Demarco Murray, or just run him into the ground?” Or my a favorite, “should Jerry share one more sweaty hug with the beloved Chris Christie?” And recently, “should Jerry sign an alleged domestic abuser, who refers to himself as Overlord Kraken?” These debates can be a lot of fun, but more often than not they are agonizing.
And this year’s Cowboys soap opera falls under the latter category. With rookie sensation Dak Prescott looking less and less sensational by the week, and often-injured Tony Romo looking less and less injured by the week; it’s getting harder and harder for Cowboys’ fans and Jerry Jones to resist entertaining a quarterback change.
Before anybody tries to look up my address and egg my house, let me be clear: I do not think Tony Romo should start this Sunday against Tampa Bay, nor do I think he should start two Mondays later against Detroit. However, if the playoff bound Cowboys drop the next two, and Prescott continues his poor play, the Romo talks will become inexorable.
So, to prepare for the mayhem that could ensue, I’m not going to not just entertain the idea of bringing in Romo. I’m going to rationally—if that’s even possible—attempt to examine both sides of the debate.
The case for Romo
Can a rookie win a Super Bowl?
Dak is special, but becoming the first rookie quarterback to hoist the Lombardi trophy as a starter would be a step beyond special. Despite the Cowboys lead in the NFC, it is highly unlikely that a team that relies so heavily on its two most inexperienced players could plant its flag on top of the NFL Mountain.
Dallas’ most likely Super Bowl opponent would be the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick will be licking his chops if he gets two weeks to prepare for a showdown with Prescott. The Patriots have won 9 of their last 11 games against rookie QBs. That’s something to think about.
Dak on the decline
There is no doubt that the last two games have been Dak at his worst. Blitzes he picked apart against Baltimore and Washington now frustrate him. Against Minnesota and New York, he was uncomfortable in the pocket and less secure with the football. The Cowboys once dominant third down offense is now 2 for its last 24 tries. If there is a ‘rookie wall,’ it could be argued that Prescott is having a heck of a time scaling it. The ‘hot hand’ appears to have been dunked in a vat of ice water.
A Healthy Tony Romo can win with this roster
It is still unknown if Tony Romo can even survive one more hit to his brittle body. But if he can… he might just give the Cowboys a better chance of winning. The offensive line continues to play at a high level, and Ezekiel Elliott and Cole Beasley have emerged as two of the leagues most dangerous weapons. Rod Marinelli’s defense is playing well above its talent level and well enough to win games. Prescott has been good—at times great—but he hasn’t played well lately.
And it’s Tony Romo we’re talking about. The passing section of the Cowboys’ record books might as well be called ‘The Gospel of Romo.’ Maybe Romo, who has a stronger arm and better footwork in the pocket, is the better option.
Dak to business
All QBs struggle against tough defenses on the road
Let’s be fair, here. Dak has struggled against two very good defenses in two tough environments. The Vikings’ offense has been a dumpster fire, but their defense is very good. Their new U.S. Bank Stadium is also a caved-in fortress of obnoxious loudness. It’s so loud that even Vikings players have complained about it. If NFL stadiums were movies, U.S. Bank Stadium would be directed by Michael Bay.
And the Giants defense is arguably the most improved unit in the league. A year ago they ranked 30th in points allowed. They are currently 7th in the same category. Sunday night’s cold, New York weather also provided the unkindest climate Prescott, the former SEC-er, has ever played in. Also, that game was no blowout. Who’s to say that the Cowboys don’t pull off a close win if Dez Bryant doesn’t fumble in the 4th quarter?
Given conditions and competition, winning one of those two games ain’t bad. Some slack needs to be cut. It would be for Romo.
Both on and off the field, a young quarterback’s confidence means everything. Whether its means getting crushed by blitzes on every drop back, like David Carr; or seeing the locker room turn against you, like Robert Griffin III, the NFL is littered with examples of talented passers who lost faith in themselves. It’s important to remember that a season without a Super Bowl is not a failure.
The Cowboys have a relatively young roster centered around very young players. The unforeseen, best quality of Prescott’s game is his poise. He reads defenses and looks through progressions unlike any rookie many of us have ever seen. That poise is precious. Being greedy and jeopardizing that poise for a better shot at the Super Bowl is a high-risk move.
This is stupid
This IS stupid. When a stupid writer writes about a stupid team, this has to be expected. It is amazing how a team with the best record in the league is talking about benching an uninjured starting quarterback. Crap like this only happens in Dallas.
Sure, Tony Romo is the best—and highest paid—backup in football, but he’s not John Elway or Peyton Manning. He’s not even Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger. He’s an all-time great Cowboy, but only has two playoff wins to show for his entire career. The idea that Romo will come in and save the season, or that the outcome of this season should be hinge on any quarterback other than the man who got the team this far, Prescott, is ridiculous.