The Dallas Cowboys are 8-1 and, with the Patriots’ recent loss to Seattle, they are ranked by many as the best team in the NFL. They’ve done all this with a rookie quarterback who was a fourth-round draft pick at the helm. Since longtime starter Tony Romo got injured in the preseason, Dak Prescott has been leading the Cowboys to a surprising amount of success. That success created a quarterback controversy no one anticipated before the season. With Romo now healthy, the team announced he will back up Prescott going forward. Is it the right move?
Matt Barresi: I think it is the right move. Prescott has been very successful this season. He has yet to show any rookie yips. His numbers might not be All-Pro level but he’s only thrown for two interceptions and has led the offense with grace. He’s also top10 in the league in completion percentage, at 66.8 percent. The Dallas offense is humming at his command, currently fifth in total offense. 8-1 is also a record you can’t deny, and their lone loss was week one against the New York Giants by a measly one point. He’s dealt with injuries to standout wide receiver Dez Bryant and to his offensive line. He’s exceeded all expectations and the Cowboys are gelling right now, how can you possibly justify going back to Romo?
Kenny Beardsley: Prescott and his abilities have been drastically inflated. Yes, he has performed well in the games he has played, but who has he played? Of the nine games the Cowboys have played this season, six of the teams they have played have a sub .500 record, those being the Browns, Bengals, 49ers, Bears, Packers and Steelers. You’re going to tell me that Romo couldn’t have won those games? Of those remaining three games, the Cowboys are 2-1, losing to the division rival Giants, in a game that is looking like it will be very important down the stretch in the contentious NFC East. Along with this lackluster schedule, Dak has been gifted the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliot, who is the No. 1 rusher in the NFL with 1005 yards through nine games, as well one of the great offensive lines of this generation keeping him healthy. Romo given these tools could easily perform as Dak has, but then with the veteran knowledge of November football and the better arm, could easily outperform him. Romo knows how to play in the games that matter against opponents who are of substance, Dak does not. Do you want a child out on the field when you need a big play or do you want the man who has been there before?
Barresi: Indeed, Dak has been blessed with a strong offensive line and one of the best running backs in the league, but he’s not just a placeholder who contributes nothing. I understand Romo has experience but is it the experience you want out there? When I think of Romo, I do not associate him with winning. I associate him with mediocrity, where the Cowboys have been toiling for a long time with him running the show. He’s often injured and good for a boneheaded play in critical situations. The Cowboys, who find themselves not stuck in the middle of the pack for the first time in a while, really want to give that up? As the cliché goes, if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Prescott has them atop the league right now, how can you justify changing a formula that has put you there? We are used to big name players such as Romo losing their job to old age and/or poor performance. But sometimes they get their role usurped from them while they can still contribute, see Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe. Prescott might not be Brady, but he’s clearly put the Cowboys among the league’s elite and although it’s no fault of Romo’s, he might still have some game left in him, they would be crazy not to go with what’s working.
Beardsley: Bonehead plays in crucial situations? Romo leads all current NFL QBs in fourth quarter comebacks; with 18.2 percent of the games he's played being such victories. Romo doesn’t get too high or too low and knows that all he needs is one more shot to win his team the game. Also, who has the highest QBR (quarterback rating) in the NFL in the 4th quarter? With a 102.9 QBR, Romo leads every quarterback in NFL history in the fourth quarter. He’s better in the fourth quarter than Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, John Elway and, yes, Prescott. Based off of these two statistics alone, Romo is going to go down as one of the most clutch players at his position, ever. When it comes to December football, when games come down to one quarter, one drive, one play, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have one of the most proven fourth quarterbacks in NFL history over a 23-year old with no playoff experience. But hey, he has beaten the Browns (zero wins), the 49ers (one win) and the Bears (two wins).
No matter how you feel about it, a decision has been made, for Week 11 at least, in that Prescott will retain his starting gig while Romo is his backup on the sidelines. It will be interesting to see this play out, as it is certainly still a fluid situation going forward.