Dak Prescott put on a solid performance Sunday that should put to rest any doubt about his ability to the lead the Cowboys. Through six weeks the rookie sensation has constructed a formidable resume in hopes of wresting the starting quarterback job from the oft-injured Tony Romo.
Dallas is 5-1 this year with Prescott under center. The former Mississippi State Bulldog touts a 68.7 completion percentage, nearly 1,500 passing yards, seven passing touchdowns, and three rushing touchdowns. He’s managed to avoid committing turnovers like so many other rookie quarterbacks in NFL history. In fact, he broke Tom Brady’s record for most pass attempts without an interception to begin a career.
But wait! What happens when Tony Romo is healthy enough to return as the starter? Since Dallas will return home for its Week 7 bye, the initial plan was for Romo to resume his duties as the starter in Week 8 against the Eagles. Now, NFL.com is reporting the Cowboys may roll with Prescott in Week 8 to ensure Romo is a “hundred thousand, million percent ready to go when he is back.”
Perhaps this is a ploy to buy more time. Perhaps Dallas is hoping Prescott’s performance slips up a bit to make the decision to play Romo much easier. Perhaps Tony Romo is not a “hundred thousand, million percent ready” right now.
Of course, Dallas’ predicament resembles that of the 2001 New England Patriots. In a September game against the New York Jets, starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe suffered a historic hit from linebacker Mo Lewis. He left the game one series after the hit, and was replaced by future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. After losing to the Jets, Brady led the Patriots to a 14-3 record, including a Super Bowl victory over the St. Louis Rams. Bledsoe was traded to the Bills in the offseason. The rest is history.
We can also draw comparisons to the 2008 drama in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers replaced Hall of Famer Brett Favre as the starting quarterback for the Packers. No, Favre did not suffer an injury. But, like the Cowboys, the Packers had a talented playmaker ready to supplant a star veteran.
We know Dak is the future in Dallas. But what about right now? Do the Cowboys follow history and relegate the veteran to the bench? I hope not.
Dallas is pretty good with Prescott at the helm, but I think the Cowboys are a legitimate Super Bowl contender with Tony Romo under center. Prescott did not throw a touchdown pass until Week 3, and hasn’t surpassed 300 yards in any game this season. One can make the argument that Dallas doesn’t need him to throw for 300 yards to win. At some point, I think they will.
Dallas is 78-49 in the regular season with Romo as the starter. He compiled a 3-1 record as the quarterback in 2015, and that was with a running back committee led by Darren McFadden, and one of the league’s worst defenses.
My argument for Romo is simple: what’s the worst that can happen? Yes, Dallas’ offense is in a tremendous rhythm right now. The defense is performing better than expected, thanks in large part to outstanding play by cornerback Morris Claiborne. But who’s to say the Cowboys won’t be even better with Romo under center? If he does not perform well, then bring in Prescott. The Cowboys can’t bench a healthy Tony Romo. It’s likely the locker room is split on the decision, and betraying Romo would be more disruptive to rhythm than sitting the rookie. I’d rather have a proven starter and a very good backup, than a relatively unproven starter and a disgruntled backup.
While the Cowboys have more than a week to declare a Week 8 starter for a pivotal NFC East matchup against the Eagles, the team should make the decision now to keep Owner Jerry Jones out of the equation. He, like Donald Trump, continues to put his foot in his mouth, and does not know a damn thing about anything.
Stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com