I’ll keep this brief because I know it’s not popular in today’s football culture, one demanding of instant gratification and quick to turn on the current thing for the “next” thing.
Tony Romo should start for the Cowboys when he becomes 100 percent healthy.
Dallas has raced out to a 4-1 start with Haughton native Dak Prescott at the helm of a Cowboys offense that features the league’s leading rusher, Ezekiel Elliot. Prescott has avoided mistakes and done a phenomenal job using his elusiveness to extend plays. The fast start has divided Dallas fans on whether or not Romo is deserving of reclaiming his starting job once he’s fully recovered from a back injury suffered during the preseason.
How quick some are to forget.
Romo finished the 2014 season with a 3.8 touchdown to interception ratio, second best in the league, only to that season’s MVP, Aaron Rodgers, and ahead of Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger, etc.
In 2013 and 2014 combined, Romo threw for 65 touchdowns compared to 19 interceptions, going over 3,700 yards passing in each season. In that same span, he completed 66.9 percent of his passes and garnered serious MVP consideration. Battling through injuries, Romo hasn’t always been at his best. That’s something Cowboy fans apparently don’t mind holding against him as cries for Dak to remain the starter grow louder.
But for those who appear ready to ride Prescott for the rest of the season, I have some questions that need answering.
1) Who allows the Cowboys to be more explosive offensively?
A: Romo. His rapport with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten is forged through nearly 10 years of reps and once defenses have to defend the whole field, not just the 20 yards closest to the line of scrimmage, the already lethal running game will improve, as well as the screen game.
2) Who deserves the most credit for the 4-1 start?
A: Zeke Elliot and the NFL’s best offensive line. Dak himself called the O-Line the, “Heart of the offense” and it wasn’t because he was being humble. For the past three years the Dallas front has been football’s best, paving the way for DeMarco Murray to lead the league in rushing in 2014 and keeping Romo upright long enough for Dallas to finish 12-4. That year, Romo torched Seattle’s legion of boom and was a famous incompletion to Dez away from playing for a NFC Championship. Now, Elliot is finding room to run behind the big boys as he leads the league in rushing through 5 games. His two score performance against the Bengals is only the beginning of what’s in store for the uber talented rookie.
3) Outside of Cincinnati, have the Cowboys beaten anyone of quality?
A: It’s too early to say, but right now the answer is no. Cincinnati is a good win no matter how you slice it, but the Redskins, Bears and 49ers shouldn’t give any Dallas fan cause to think Prescott is going to make the throws necessary to beat better teams. This week’s road game with the Packers provides Prescott his first real road test.
4) Haven’t I seen this before?
A: Yes, yes I have. The way Prescott is playing is reminiscent of what Colin Kaepernick did once he took over for Alex Smith in San Francisco. The NFL got to see Kaep unload his talent on the national stage, but once it was recorded on video and NFL coaches saw all he had to offer, bootlegs and keepers were shut down and windows began closing a second faster. Five games into his career, Prescott is due for a slide soon. At least Kaepernick threw for a slew of touchdowns in his brief time in the spotlight; Prescott has only tossed 4 through 5 games.
With all of this said, I am a Dak fan. I wish the guy all the best in his career, but Prescott is a rookie who simply can’t do what Romo can through the air at this point. Romo has earned at least one more chance to lead this team.
Anyone who has ever played — or even watched — the game knows November football is a different animal than the feel-out games in September and early October. Romo’s big game experience, for better or worse, is a valued commodity in this league, and it would be a shame if the Cowboys’ missed out on playing in January because they were afraid to turn to a proven playoff quarterback in November.
Maybe I’m wrong and Dak is the savior sent from Haughton to save the Cowboys, but I’m not as willing as some to crown the kid from Haughton just yet.
Blake Branch is the sports editor for the Minden Press-Herald