Cowboys need to start planning for life after Romo
MAY 22, 2014 11:19a ET
While Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was lobbying for the Buffalo Bills to move to Toronto during the NFL owners meetings, his star quarterback shed some light on his return to the team. It sounds like Tony Romo will take it easy during organized team activities (OTAs) and perhaps be at full capacity in time for the first minicamp.
"I'm getting close," Romo told ESPN.com. "We're just going to be smart during the OTAs and have a little bit of a pitch count, but we're going to go out there each day and try to do all that we can. The guys are working hard and doing great and I think we're going to be ready."
It would be nice if the Cowboys had a capable backup quarterback in the fold, but Kyle Orton continues to be a mystery. Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson told reporters during last weekend's rookie minicamp that Orton's agent had asked him to give the player some space. I have no clue why a backup quarterback would want to flirt with the idea of leaving $3.5 million on the table. And he might even be on the hook for paying back some bonus money to the Cowboys. It seems like Orton has handled this unprofessionally and I wouldn't blame head coach Jason Garrett if he wanted to end this ruse immediately.
No matter how confident Romo is about his health, the Cowboys have to put together a contingency plan for him missing a few games. Brandon Weeden isn't a great option, but he's all the Cowboys have at this point.
Jones is so loyal to Romo that he doesn't dare entertain the thought of drafting and developing his successor. Jerry has a steadfast belief that players rise to the level of what they're being compensated. It's a flawed approach, but it's not like he's going to change at this point. I saw at least one reporter write that the Cowboys not drafting a quarterback is a sign that Romo's back is fine. That's laughable to me. It's actually a sign that Jones steps and fetches for Romo. How else do you explain a quarterback coming off two back surgeries holding such power in an organization?
Jones is in denial about Tony's twilight years in the league. And I'm sure he loved the bravado that Romo put on display Wednesday while talking to Ben Rogers and Jeff Wade on local radio.
"There's no question in my mind, not only am I going to be able to make it through 16 games, I'll make it through another five years," Romo said. "Some people have issues just based on their body alignment and degenerative things, but none of those are my issues. Mine is just something small and I just got hit at the wrong time and that's part of what happened. If you play football long enough, you're going to have something."
It's fine for Romo to express that type of optimism, but you don't see a lot of quarterbacks with major back issues playing until their 39. The Cowboys can't afford for Romo to be sacked 35 times again. That's part of the reason they chose Notre Dame offensive tackle/guard Zack Martin with the 16th overall pick. Jones is actually trying to establish an identity on the offensive side of the ball that doesn't involve Romo slinging the ball 45 times a game. We'll see if new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has any more inclination than Garrett or Bill Callahan to run the ball.
America's (.500) Team needs a foundation. Too many times Jones has tried to take shortcuts along the offensive line so that he could spend premium picks on wide receivers and cornerbacks. It's not much, but it's a start.
The Cowboys need to be extremely cautious with Romo. They can't let him exceed his "pitch count" simply because he's feeling better on that particular day.
In the meantime, I'd be working on Romo's backup quarterback. Orton's gone into hiding and Weeden wouldn't be a quality primary backup.
The Cowboys have a bad habit of only planning for sunny days. They envision a season devoid of serious injuries based in part on the law of averages.
Seems like they might learn to plan for the sky falling since that's normally what occurs.