In 2014, some didn’t think the Dallas Cowboys could win a game without quarterback Tony Romo. Now, they are afraid they won’t win a game with him.
Aug 25, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) comes out of the tunnel for pre game warmups against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Entering the bye week with the Dallas Cowboys sitting on top of the NFC East with a record of 5 – 1 makes it’s a great time to be part of Cowboy Nation. Had offensive coordinator Scott Linehan ran the ball more against the New York Giants during the first game of the season, we would probably be undefeated.
Should we be happy with the results of this season? Absolutely! Winning is winning and winning is great. However, none of us should be shocked, surprised or expected anything less.
To fully explain, I have to jump in a time machine and return to 2013. The Cowboys finished with a record of 8–8 and it emphasized the mediocrity of head coach Jason Garrett. Cowboy Nation wanted his head on a platter. Meanwhile, Mr. That’s My Quarterback – Tony Romo finished with an 8–7 record after completing 63.9% of his passes for 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
The Cowboys finished with the 5th best offense in the NFL in terms of points scored, but 26th in points against. Romo’s supporting defense, under defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin ranked 32nd after allowing 6,645 yards – the third most in NFL history. Yet, Tony helped the Cowboys finish 2nd in the division.
In 2014, while playing a 2nd place schedule, the Cowboys jumped to a 6 – 1 record by running off a six game win streak which included beating the Seattle Seahawks on the road. I know two seasons seems like 20 decades ago, but it happened recently. Romo returned from injury and had another five game winning streak if you include the wild card playoff victory against the Detroit Lions.
In 15 games, Romo was sent to the Pro Bowl after finishing with a 12 – 3 record, 34 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He improved upon his stats in 2013 and did I mention this was against a 2nd place schedule? The defense was ranked 15th in points allowed and 19th in yards allowed – it would’ve been hard for them to do worse than 2013.
Aug 21, 2016; Frisco, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) prior to the first practice at The Star. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
In a 4–12 season, Romo was responsible for 3 of those wins. Our potent offense ranked 31st in points scored with quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden under center. For the record, I’m still a Kellen Moore fan and believe he could’ve saved our season had he played earlier.
We’ll point the blame at the quarterback position because running back Darren McFadden started 10 games and reached 1,089 yards. The defense finished 16th in points allowed and 17th in yards allowed – that’s their norm.
It’s a good thing that the collapse happened though because it allowed us to get running back Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. The other benefit – playing a soft schedule against weaker opponents provided by placing 4th in the NFC East.
Of 16 games, only 6 are against NFC East opponents and those are the battle games. The rotating schedule has us playing the AFC and NFC North opponents. I never pick against the Cowboys, but if you would tell me the Vikings would play without running back Adrian Peterson and the Steelers could be without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger – those games get moved to our win column.
Include games against the San Francisco 49’ers (5 – 11) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6 – 10) and I predict our Cowboys would finish with a 14 – 2 record. That’s after we sweep the Washington Redskins and split against the Philadelphia Eagles and Giants.
Nov 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) comes off the field after throwing his second interception for a touchdown during the second quarter of an NFL game against the Carolina Panthers on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Cowboys defense is finally contributing in 2016. They are ranked 7th in scoring defense and 16th in yards allowed. The defense still isn’t getting much pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They have been protecting leads as teams have been playing from behind and getting one dimensional.
11 – 5
12 – 4
Green Bay Packers
10 – 6
10 – 6
7 – 9
5 – 11
6 – 10
3 – 13
Dallas was never a 4–12 team. That season was an anomaly. We just needed competent production from the quarterback position and this year Prescott is providing that. You know the rules for quarterbacks, especially backups – don’t turn the ball over, make smart decisions and safe throws, rely on the running game. Those are things that Cassel and Weeden failed to do – they weren’t competent game managers.
Tony Romo’s Stats As Starter
8 – 7
12 – 3
3 – 1
23 – 11
Fortunately we picked up quarterback Dak Prescott in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL draft because quarterbacks Jameill Showers and Dustin Vaughan were failed experiments. Prescott didn’t have to prove that he was a better option than Moore and Romo. Remember, the plan was to have Prescott sit behind Romo and develop for a year or two.
After injuries during training camp, he was our ONLY option and he’s held down the fort. Regarding Prescott, I’ll use the words of Hall of Fame and former Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells – “Let’s not put him in Canton yet.”
As rookies, Prescott and Elliott were lucky enough to get drafted by the team they wanted to play for. Elliott said that the Cowboys were his pick and Prescott is in Cowboy Nation because he grew up as a Cowboys fan. They aren’t rookies on a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars that hasn’t won more than 5 games in a season since 2011. They are playing their role on a team that has the potential of turning this 4th place schedule into a Super Bowl trophy.
Prescott is playing well – he could be the next Romo or the next Robert Griffin III – who knows? Prescott has repeatedly reminded everyone that this is Tony Romo’s team. The media needs something to talk about. I know Cowboy Nation also suffers from short term memories: we love riding this win streak, nobody wants Garrett fired, people love owner Jerry Jones and cornerback Morris Claiborne isn’t a first round bust. So, I’m just here to remind you – when a healthy Romo returns, this team won’t lose 8, 9 or 10 straight games.