Tony Romo’s back injury is without a doubt the worst thing that could’ve happened to the Dallas Cowboys this season. We’ve already seen how quickly the team collapses without their starting quarterback. And if you don’t believe me, please refer to 2015 during which Romo was sidelined with a broken clavicle and they went 4-12.
“I don’t want to say it’s extra pressure on us, but it is,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “Without your starting quarterback, you have to get off the field, you have to get turnovers and get three-and-outs and get off the field. And you have to help the offense by scoring points.”
The Cowboys took a lot of offseason heat for all but ignoring Romo’s recent injury plagued history. And let’s face it, the Cowboys without Romo are pitiful. This offseason was an opportunity for the original “America’s Team” to reignite fans by finding a viable alternative to Romo if/when he suffers injury.
Instead, they drafted rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and explained to their fans that Romo has a “good five years left in him”. Romo’s newest injury prematurely thrusts Prescott into the starting role until Romo returns. Which means the Cowboys have all but secured the bottom of the NFC East for the second consecutive year, despite a decent draft.
Bold statement huh?
Let me explain.
It’s practically a given that any rookie quarterback will fail in his first season, unless he’s an anomaly like Andrew Luck, or arguably Marcus Mariota. Sure, Prescott has earned the “best preseason quarterback title.” But it’s preseason people, and it means nothing. Prescott is expected to command the offense, while facing teams like the Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals – teams that ranked within the top 15 defenses last season.
Which means Prescott will be under enormous pressure to get rid of the ball quickly, making him more susceptible to picks and fumbles. It’s likely Prescott will fall back on his hand-off option, just because it’s safer.
“When you say the quarterback has 3-4 seconds to throw the ball and get rid of it, he literally has 3-4 seconds,” said New York Giants’ Landon Collins, who will face Prescott for game one of regular season. “He can’t scan the whole field, he has to pick a side and go off those two routes or he has to check it down, it’s that quick, so that’s the best thing about it.”
A glimmer of hope for the Cowboys resides in their top notch running back Ezekiel Elliott, who they took first in the draft. Elliott already has a powerhouse presence in the backfield, which means Prescott will likely rely on him. But that also means Elliott will be taking tons of hits. Running backs already have one of the shortest careers of any football position in the league. And Elliot’s premiere season is shaping up to be brutal.
It’s not looking good for the Cowboys. Two rookies are expected to lead them to the playoffs. Yes you read that right, rumors have begun circulating that the Cowboys could make postseaosn.
And I guess you never know – maybe Prescott can be the anomaly, Elliott can stay healthy, and everyone will live happily ever after. But I wouldn’t bet on it.