Tony Romo is my dude. I tweeted during the win over Washington that it's a difficult thing to be someone that's a big fan of Romo, but also one that can admit his flaws. The folks at either end of the Romospectrum make being a middle-ground guy a second job! You're either defending him to people that have the audacity to call a UDFA quarterback from Eastern Illinois an underachiever, or you're defending your fandom against zealots who refuse to admit that Romo has ever thrown a bad pass in his career.
Now, with the news that Romo has suffered an injury that appears to have him out for the remainder of the season, fans of the Dallas Cowboys are going through the gamut of emotional responses. We first caught wind following the game, when Owner/GM/Carnival Barker Jerry Jones announced to the world that Romo's back was the issue. Head coach Jason Garrett didn't get the memo, TPS Cover Sheet issue I'm sure, and said that Romo had a leg/foot injury. LOL, WUT?
Yesterday afternoon, we received a tweet from ESPN's Adam Scheffter that Romo was out for the season and all of Cowboys Nation gasped collectively. That Christmas cold front you're feeling is the direct result of all of that air being sucked out of the atmosphere at the same time.
Seriously? Tony Romo's out? For the year? Going into the NFC East Championship game? Along with Sean Lee? After Anthony Spencer and the half-dozen other guys on IR already? What did we do, football gods?!?!?! WHAT DID WE DO?!?!?!
Then, Cowboys insider Bryan Broaddus tweeted that Romo was still meeting with the doctor, and that a determination hadn't been made.
Which leads one to wonder... either the Cowboys have the absolute worst information security team in the history of firewalls and VPNs, or someone floated the information purposely. At least, that's how I think.
Honestly, knowing how loose-lipped JJ is and the fact that even I, a Cowboys blogger in Maryland, have a couple "sources" from time to time, I lean towards the former. But the latter is an option that Cowboys Nation hopes against hope is the truth.
Willis Reed? No son, Tony Romo shows up with a broken back! How ya love that!?! Ooooo, kill'em!
As word came out from ESPN's offices that the injury is a herniated disk requiring surgery, Jason Garrett was giving a press conference stating that a determination hadn't yet been made on Romo's availability for Sunday's game. In Jason Garrett's world of coach-speak, Michael Irvin is still considered day-to-day.
Now JJ says there is nothing structurally wrong that will keep him from playing if he can manage the pain. I checked with my online doctor, they said that's a possibility.
Speaking of Irvin, that's the far-end of the spectrum of Cowboys concerns, right? What if the issue is some sort of degenerative disk disease? The disks in the back get worse over time, regardless.. that's part of aging. But at some folks, it's a bigger issue than others. What if Romo has some sort of long-term issue? From the humanitarian point of view, man that would suck for him. From the casual fan's point of view, man that would suck for us. From the educated fan's point of view, the Cowboys just gave this dude a six-year extension with $55m guaranteed!!!!
How Will The Cowboys Look With Kyle Orton?
Even though Jason Garrett refuses to rule out Tony Romo, most of the rest of us have made the leap. So, about that backup?
Some of us think it's been time for the Cowboys to start grooming Romo's successor. Some of us are feeling strangely vindicated right now as Dallas scrambles to bring in the likes of David Carr and Tyler Thigpen to be the third quarterback. Where's Alex Tanney when you need him? Oh, that's right, he's in Cleveland because no one thought he was worth protecting with a roster spot. Genius!
Then again, some of us think it's stupid to pay a guy $5 million a year to be the "break glass in case of emergency" vet quarterback backup. Welp, those some-of-us' will be cheering full throttle for said guy to get us into the playoffs and almost as importantly, keep Philly out of it.
So for now it's Kyle Orton, unless the miracle happens. I know that Orton looked both great and horrible during the preseason. I also know preseason means nothing, win-wise or stat-wise. What I'd like to look at are his mechanics in the pocket, to see if they are solid and we can expect another Jon Kitna performance. Unfortunately, the NFL has decided that even though I paid $20 for their Preseason Live package, I and other consumers did not purchase the ability to watch these games after the regular season got underway.
What will happen to Cowboys Nation if Orton pulls out the win? Can you imagine the ammunition that gives those that never wanted Romo to lead this team in the first place? Myself personally, I know his worth, and I think he can both lead this team and be upgraded. That is possible, and I know that finding a franchise quarterback is the hardest thing to do in sports... but can you imagine if Orton pulls this off? The internet, at the very least twitter, would implode unto itself.
Orton balled out against Oakland, going 6 for 6 including a beautiful pass over the top to Cole Beasley. He also came out the next game and threw two picks in a quarter against Arizona. Orton was also perfect against Cincy, going 4 for 4 with a flat pass to Murray for a touchdown... that sounds familiar.
Remember that game, when Tony Romo had his spine removed at halftime in a Mortal Kombat fatality, and then came out the tunnel with a walker, brought his team back with two scores in the fourth quarter, including a fourth down conversion and then another on fourth and goal from the 11 with only a minute to go? That was a rollout and pass to Murray in the flat for a touchdown, too! Sympatico! That was awesome! Romo rocks.
Does he rock enough to save Jason Garrett's job? Word was that Garrett and the staff were going to be shown the door should the Cowboys fail to make the playoffs. Does that still hold? If you were one game away from firing your head coach, does a Week 17 injury to your quarterback convince you to employ the guy for another year? Inquiring minds want to know.
Yesterday at this time, my concern was whether or not Dallas could beat this new-and-improved version of the Eagles, a team that looks completely different than the one Dallas shut down in the season's first half. Everything else was ready to fall into place depending on the results of the game and the way the team looked in achieving that result.
Cowboys win? Cool, nuclear option avoided. Status returns to Defcon 3. Cowboys lose a close one? Defcon 2, rearrange some of the middle management, try again one more time or fire everybody. Cowboys look bad in losing? Defcon 1, press the shiny red button, look for a new planet.
Now? I have a million and one scenarios dancing around in my head and I'm not quite sure where to go from here. Anything can happen! It's the great unknown! The only thing I know for sure, is that this is one hell of a ride... or a show, if you prefer that analogy.
Hmmm, I wonder if Jerry... nah, nevermind.