No season of the weekly soap opera that is the NFL would be complete without the media-driven illusion of the “quarterback controversy.” Truth be told, in football, if you’re a head coach worth your salt, there is no such thing as a controversy when evaluating talent, as controversy is a matter of opinion and talent evaluation is not. This should be a competition — not a controversy. The issue is pretty concrete, the person who gives the team the best chance to win should play, however, that person also needs to be able to stay on the field.
Unfortunately for the Dallas Cowboys,
Jason Garrett Jerry Jones will be the decision maker behind the heavily tilted evaluation process that will take place around Week 8 of the NFL’s regular season when former All-Pro injured-reservist Tony Romo makes his third triumphant return from a major injury in two seasons. Apparent soothsayer/owner-coach, Jones has already made it clear that this is Romo’s team, at least until the next blindside hit. The only issue, this time, is that the Cowboy’s 2016 fourth round pick and the consensus No. 1 fantasy football team name muse of 2016, Dak Prescott, is the current substitute signal caller for Dallas and I bet even wide receiver Terrance Williams can see that this young man is pretty damn good.
Prescott, who has shown poise beyond his years, hasn’t thrown the ball to an opposing jersey since Dec. 30 and hasn’t been on the negative side of a turnover ratio since Nov. 14, against Alabama. More importantly, under his tenure as Dallas’ own Jonathon Moxon, the Cowboys are winning and, as the old saying goes, you don’t fix what isn’t broken.
There is no argument here on who is the better quarterback. Romo helped turn the Cowboys around, despite what some
Giants fans, who ignore numbers or statistics, would want you to believe and his skills as an NFL quarterback far surpass those of Prescott, who has thrown just three touchdowns in four NFL games. Unfortunately for Romo, that skill set is useless from the emergency room and there is no real-world medical procedure equivalent to infusing someone’s bones with adamantium. His health issues need to be a cause for concern when the team evaluates its quarterback situation upon his return to action.
This is not Romo’s team of four or five years ago that lives and dies by his self-proclaimed identification as a “gunslinger.” This team is not one puzzle piece away from completing a picture of the Lombardi trophy. “Win now” mode was three seasons ago when DeMarco Murray wasn’t blacklisted in Dallas, and Jason Witten could still muster up a few yards after a catch. In 2014, the defense of the Cowboys overachieved like the kid in your seminar class who always asked a question when the professor was going to let you out early. This year however, they’re more like the kid who shows up on the day of your final and whispers “Damn, we have a test today?”
This is a young team that benefits from consistency and simplicity. If the Cowboys can limit turnovers, defensive snaps and establish the run to set up the pass, they win football games. We have just about seen Romo’s ceiling, we have yet to see Prescott’s. If Romo returns in Week 8 and the Cowboys are still competing/winning and Prescott is still showing signs of growth, the heir apparent should be allowed to finish what he started. If, over the course of the next few weeks, the rookie bottoms out and becomes a liability, then Romo can mortgage the starting position for half the year but should be in fair competition with Prescott for the starting job come summer of 2017, which is when Romo will become more expensive to keep than to cut.
We all know that this is Jerry’s World. Romo will be handed the job this season as well as next, and according to team doctor/owner-coach Jones, the aging quarterback has 4-5 good seasons left. Unless I am missing something, and Giselle Bundchen has taught Candice Romo the tremendous anti-aging benefits of kale and being married to Giselle Bundchen, Romo has given no indication that he can stay on the field and justify his current cap hit. The ball seems to be in the Cowboy’s court going forward and there should be a pay cut and a quarterback competition — not controversy — sooner, rather than later. As a Cowboy fan, I am thankful for Romo’s contributions to the team, however, the nature of the NFL is not, “What have you done for me?” it’s, “What have you done for me lately?”