When Tony Romo‘s back is no longer broken, he’ll resume his role as the Cowboys‘ starting quarterback. In the meantime, the Cowboys will hope some of Dak Prescott‘s preseason success translates over to the regular season while they rely on a pounding ground game, led by arguably the league’s top offensive line and rookie of the year candidate Ezekiel Elliott, to hold them over until Romo returns.
That’s the plan.
But what happens if more than just some of Prescott’s preseason success translates? What if Prescott sets the league on fire during the regular season? What if Prescott does more than just guide the Cowboys to a playoff position, what if he wills them to that spot by the time Romo is ready to return sometime between Weeks 6 and 10?
On Sunday, Cowboys COO and director of player personnel Stephen Jones didn’t rule out the kind of situation that developed for the Patriots when Drew Bledsoe went down at the beginning of the 2001 season and some guy named Tom Brady took over. Jones didn’t say that it was likely, but — again — he didn’t rule it out.
“I can’t imagine a scenario where Tony’s not our quarterback when he’s ready,” Jones said in Peter King’s article for the Monday Morning Quarterback. “But things happen. You know that. You know what happened to Bledsoe and Brady. I’m sure Tony’s aware of that. But the reality is, Tony’s going to come back for us and play great, we believe.”
Bledsoe, of course, never regained his job and Brady guided the Patriots to the Super Bowl. Many more followed. Bledsoe went on to start for the Bills and Cowboys before retiring after the 2006 season. If Prescott ends up permanently replacing Romo this season, chances are Romo, 36, won’t hang on for as along as Bledsoe did. As CBS Sports national columnist Bill Reiter wrote earlier Monday, the Romo era is coming to an unfortunate early ending.
For Prescott to make that happen sooner rather than later, he’ll need the Cowboys to win and he’ll need to serve as one of the primary stars behind those wins. That’s been a tough task for any quarterback not named Romo in recent years. In the past three seasons, the Cowboys backup quarterbacks have posted a 1-13 record.
“It’s a different feel around here this time,” Jones said. “We like what we’ve got behind Tony now. This is still a gut punch. It hurts bad. But I can tell you this time we’re not going to be sitting around worrying when Tony gets back. We can’t say, ‘We need to go 3-3,’ or whatever, with Tony gone. The hell with that. We gotta have a game plan to beat the Giants, and to win every game without him.”
Prescott’s competition before the Cowboys’ Week-7 bye looks like this:
There are some winnable games there and Prescott has shined in the opportunities that have been given to him thus far, completing 78 percent of his passes, averaging 9.1 yards per attempt, tossing five touchdowns and zero interceptions, and adding two more touchdowns on the ground. Dez Bryant is already a fan. But (insert necessary disclaimer) it’s the preseason.
The more likely scenario? Prescott gains some valuable experience in Romo’s absence, which bodes well for the future when he actually does take over for Romo permanently. And Romo returns to a team that has fallen behind the leaders in the NFC East,.
Then, Romo will have half a season to turn the Cowboys into contenders.
If the Cowboys can stay afloat in the meantime, if Romo steps back in without any hiccups, and if the Cowboys can still secure a playoff spot, Romo will have a chance to end a snake-bitten career with a ring. But, like the idea of a Bledsoe-Brady situation developing in Dallas, the best-case scenario also seems far fetched. The scenario that ends up materializing will probably fall in the spaces in between.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Cowboys won’t rule out the Romo-Dak situation developing like Bledsoe-Brady