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Dallas Cowboys: Why Tony Romo is still the starter


Sometimes the NFL comes across as more than just a game when it comes to an entertainment level. Sometimes the NFL provides us with a dose of drama that only appears in soap operas or the latest edition of the National Enquirer.

Only the major catch is that the sports edition is quite real and doesn’t need embellishing. Like when Terrell Owens held a media interview at his home on his lawn and did his crunches and weight sets in between questions. All of this was while he was having a contract dispute with the Philadelphia Eagles and a personal feud versus Donovan McNabb.

But there’s a special dramatic television weekly special series that airs every couple of years. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the 117th* edition of: Quarterback Controversies.

Now what exactly is a quarterback controversy? Well every team has a quarterback. Every team has to have two even. But for most teams, there’s a clear choice as to who is the starter like say: Tom Brady over Jimmy Garapolo, Drew Brees over Luke McCown, and Carson Palmer over Drew Henson.

These things are obvious because the lack of talent is evident from a statistical, a bird’s eye view, and a film study. Everybody with a brain knows that Tom Brady is the best option to be quarterback. Clear as day.

Where the skies get foggy is when both quarterbacks, the presumed starter and the backup, are both quite good and seemingly equal in talent, but only one can start for you and lead the team. So who is the choice?

These situations usually happen by accident. Teams don’t go out and sign two quarterbacks to feud with each other. Yes, a quality backup is necessary, but backups who are usually good enough to start don’t stay as backups, which is why teams often draft quarterbacks in the middle to late rounds of the draft to develop them and pose as their backups until their future time arrives. The Denver Broncos even drafted Paxton Lynch in the 2016 draft’s first round and set him behind Simian after training camp to develop him.

Dallas had this same idea when they drafted Dak Prescott from Mississippi State in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel nearly made the Cowboys unwatchable last season with putrid play, so Dallas went ahead and took Prescott to give themselves a project backup while Tony Romo prepared for a Super Bowl run.

But after a preseason injury broke Romo’s lower back, the young backup was thrusted into the starting role. Prescott answered by shining in preseason so much that our own Robert Cobb wrote about a reminder article to Cowboys fans that this is preseason.

The hype going into the season was high and Cowboys fans have only grinned much to Rob’s chagrin because now the Cowboys are 4-1 (if Beasley doesn’t drop a TD, they’d be 5-0) and Prescott has a 4-0 TD-INT ratio in 155 pass attempts. That’s far and away a rookie record for most pass attempts without an interception to start a career. He’s 8th in quarterback rating and just outside the top 10 in passing yards.

Everything is bigger in Big D including hyperbolic reactions. My friend Dillon Brollier, an enthusiastic fan, wants the Cowboys to trade Romo. I was in McDonalds with my friend Luis Vitela during his wedding weekend and I saw a man wearing a No. 4 Dak Prescott jersey that he had purchased from an NFL shop.

A lot of this is reasonable. Dak is clearly the future. His poise and ability is quite unlike any rookie quarterback I’ve ever seen. I dare say that when I watched him play, he reminded me of tapes of Joe Montana that I had watched, which is a ridiculous comparison at first thought, but one my mind refused to dismiss.

These things being said, there is no reason to think Dallas will make Dak Prescott the permanent starter when Tony Romo gets back so there really is no controversy outside the ones inside the fans’ heads.

In fact, as crazy as it may sound to some fans, the Cowboys would be foolish to sit or trade Romo and here’s where it gets a bit complex so pay attention.

Dallas doesn’t just look at the end results on a stat sheet, but they watch each and every play.

They analyze the mechanics of each player. Prescott has shown fantastic results for someone so young, but where Prescott shows he needs to improve is in precision with his accuracy. Those who listen to Brad Sham and Babe Laufenberg, the Dallas radio analysts; they’ll hear comments about how Dak has thrown balls just a little bit ahead or behind receivers.

Often the receivers catch them, but a precise passer hits his receivers in stride, so there isn’t a reduction in speed on their routes. These adjustments have cost Dallas yards and potentially long touchdowns because instead of longer gains, the tacklers manage to close the gap.

It’s not always enough to get a completion. It’s who gets the most production.

Prescott is the younger and more durable player yes, but Romo has had years of precision timing training and hits his receivers in stride. Prescott having only four touchdowns and not yet eclipsing 300 yards passing in a game (something Romo routinely does) shows a major difference in production in the passing game. It’s just because Prescott isn’t seen committing turnovers and Dallas is winning that the fans don’t see a difference.

Also, Dallas has set things up for him to be easier with shorter passes and intermediate plays.

He’s only had two deep completions in the 30+ yards category (31 and 47 yards) over five games. Dak lacks a deep threat partially because the Cowboys want it that way. The fans don’t notice that always.

An additional thing that anyone can notice is Prescott’s release is significantly slower than the gunfighter draw of Romo’s. Romo’s release is on par with Dan Marino’s as one of the quickest ever and that kind of release is the difference between a touchdown and a sack many times.

Furthermore, know that the Jones family isn’t going to undercut Romo at this point.

If anything they didn’t protect him enough during the rough 8-8 years. Jerry Jones is a lot of things, but disloyal is not one of them. Romo is his guy and he believes in Romo until he really has reason not to. As far as Jerry sees it and has stated, if Romo doesn’t win a Super Bowl, it’s on him and the owner is not wrong.

As a general manager, he failed at multiple drafts to provide an adequate long term supporting cast for his elite QB. Something quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, and Eli Manning have had in common besides winning Super Bowls. Get the picture?

I understand why fans want Prescott now. There’s a sense of fatigue when it comes to Romo.

He’s been with Dallas for over a decade, but he has no Super Bowls or MVP awards or several playoff victories to assuage the skeptics that he knows what he’s doing. But understand that as long as the Joneses believe in Romo and he’s healthy, then Romo will be the starting for the short term future. Those of us who see the adjustments that Prescott needs to make realize Romo is still the best option.

Romo will start again, but here’s where the Prescott fans and myself included could get a minor Prescott victory. Romo most likely won’t start until after the bye week at best. Prescott is showing only positive results, there’s no harm in giving him a large test in the form of the Green Bay Packers and seeing how he performs under intense pressure against an elite team in the toughest stadium to play in NFL history.

This prevents Romo from being rushed back like last season when the Cowboys had nothing for backup and then him re-breaking the collarbone on Thanksgiving. That’s not the case here. Prescott is the clear future of the Dallas Cowboys, so let the future starter get some playing time now while the vintage veterans gets good and healthy and then shows the youngster more of the ropes in person en route to a Super Bowl win.


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kimdunning
Kim Dunning is a diehard Pittsburgh Penguins, Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Braves fan. She is also the host of a radio show "Stay Out of My Crease". When not blogging about her favorite teams or sports, she is a mom and a wife. Kim has been blogging for 8 years now and broke into the scene as the first female blogger for the Dallas Cowboys site The Landry Hat. Kim is not biased when it comes to her teams so you will always get a different perspective when reading her articles. Follow her on twitter @irish_lassie or @stayoutofcrease
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