Dallas Cowboys NFL

Romo’s out – what now?

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The fate of Tony Romo has been the elephant in the room leading up to the 2016 season. Did his last injury impact his play? Was he out of shape in the Cowboys’ training camp? The blogosphere has been rampant with questions and innuendo about whether he would be healthy for this season.

Unfortunately, that question has been answered before even one regular-season game for 2016 has been played. Tony Romo is done for a good portion of the season, if not all of it. The back injury he suffered in the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks has the quarterback out due to injury for six to 10 weeks, at a minimum. The best-case scenario is that he might be looking at a midseason return. The worst would be that this is Romo’s first and last rodeo this season. One thing is for sure – the Cowboys need a contingency plan because there are a lot of things up in the air while Romo sits on the bench.

The backup becomes the starter

This post-season, the No. 1 conversation looming over the Cowboys’ front office was: “What is the plan to groom Tony Romo’s successor?” His absence last season literally inverted the previous season’s record – something the Cowboys, with the massive adjustments they have made to their offensive line, were devastated by. Rumors swirled about whether free agents Johnny Manziel or Robert Griffin III would don the blue star. Ultimately, the Cowboys made the decision to draft Dak Prescott, a fourth-round pick from Mississippi State with killer instincts, the ability to connect with his receivers and a positive relationship with his teammates from day one.

Needless to say, the sports analysts have been watching. Bart Scott, an analyst for CBS, thinks Prescott gives Dallas a better chance at success this season than Romo does. “[Dak] has live legs, he has a live arm, and he has confidence — and he has the support of his team,” Scott said. “If you are comparing the physical differences between a 36-year-old starter and a rookie just entering the league, the reckless abandon that a rookie has with his body is a stark contrast to someone who is a seasoned veteran and has to be careful about injury. Dak Prescott is playing exceptionally in the preseason and can absolutely be the quarterback to take the reins in a post-Romo era for the Dallas Cowboys.”

Don’t count Romo out

As much as it seems like there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the Dallas Cowboys, it would be grossly unwise to count Tony Romo out. First of all, the one thing the veteran quarterback has on his side is the support of the Cowboys brass. Even when the Cowboys faithful were ready to burn Romo jerseys in effigy in previous seasons, Jerry Jones made it crystal clear that Romo was his choice. Even now, with Romo out for six to 10 weeks with his back injury, Jason Garrett has not placed him on injured reserve. Romo has always been defined by his character on and off the field. Because of that, the decision on whether he will remain the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys after he recovers from his back injury is his to make.

Also, when we talk about the ability for rookie quarterbacks to be reckless, there is a limit to that idea. Any player in the NFL has to not only think of the contribution he can make to his team, but also to his longevity in the league. So even though young players have the ability to be riskier with the decisions they make with their bodies, the goal is to continue to play the game they love for as long as possible. Ideally, they’d want to do it in a franchise position for one team. Need proof? Look at Robert Griffin III.

At this point, the Cowboys are in a good position. They have the expertise of Tony Romo to guide young Dak Prescott while he’s injured with the potential to return. They also are going to be OK without Romo. Unlike last season, the Cowboys can concentrate on winning with Prescott and allow Romo to have a complete recovery. Seems like a win-win for everyone.

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