I had to wait a few days after the Philadelphia Debacle to write something coherent about the quarterback controversy in Dallas. I was too emotionally involved in the issue immediately following the game, and would have probably declared something I would later regret. Like after I first saw the movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and claimed that Keanu Reeves would become the greatest comedic actor of our time. OK, I really didn't say that but you get the picture, one performance doesn't make the man. But you could probably still say Reeves is the greatest comedic actor of our times, if you consider the unintentional comedy factor of his acting. Coma patients have more range.
It's hard to call it a quarterback controversy when head coach Bill Parcells is still solidly in the Drew Bledsoe camp, but there seems to be a small crack forming in his defensive wall. In Monday's press conference, he hedged his bets about changing QB's by adding in the qualifier "at this minute" and "at this time". That tells me that he's at least thought about it, but he's not really considering it, yet. We know about Parcells' loyalty to his guys and how he tends to stick with veterans. However, he's also stubborn about winning and will makes moves to that effect even if it means cutting or benching one of his favorites. Parcells loved Keyshawn Johnson as much as he does Terry Glenn, but he showed Keyshawn the door because he thought Terrell Owens could do more for the team. That's enough about Parcells, I want to talk about the two principals involved in the swirling storm at Valley Ranch.
The book on Drew Bledsoe is about 699 pages shorter than the Al Saunders playbook. It consists of one page with double-spaced lines. Give Bledsoe time in the pocket, and he's a very good quarterback. Allow the defense to get pressure on him and its "Titanic meet iceberg" time. There's no grey area with Bledsoe, so the question about him leading the Cowboys anywhere this season comes down to the offensive line. Was the line's performance against the Eagles an aberration or just a portent of future futility? Watching the game film afterwards tells me that it's physically possible for the line to protect Bledsoe, the Eagles weren't manhandling the Cowboys players in a way that says they are incapable of blocking. But how the players and the coaching staff couldn't adjust to the same blitzes and the same stunts over and over may be more frightening than being physically whipped.
Enter Tony Romo, fresh as the morning dew. Is there anybody more popular than the backup quarterback when a team is struggling? Romo has mobile legs and has shown in preseason games that he has a pretty good grasp at running an NFL offense. Whenever a person is an unknown, you can attach any kind of trait you want to him. Romo is the next Favre, the next Brady; there's no chance he can be worse than Bledsoe. All things are possible when there's no track record to look at. But NFL history tells us one thing, a quarterback playing in his first NFL games is much more likely to struggle than excel. Examples like Brady are the exception that proves the rule. For every Ben Rothelisberger you can name, there are 10 other first-time QB's that were awful. This doesn't mean they won't get better over time, but if you're betting on Romo to lead this team to big things this season, you'd get the long shot odds, something along the lines of 40 to 1.
Sure Romo would do a better job of avoiding the rush, but if that was the number one requirement of an NFL QB then why not stick Terry Glenn back there. Surely he could run circles around defensive tackles. Yes, I'm going overboard to make a point, but there's a lot more to quarterbacking than avoiding the rush, just ask Michael Vick. It's tempting to say that Romo couldn't be any worse than Bledsoe, and that he wouldn't make that inexcusable throw that led to a gut-wrenching interception in Philadelphia. But these are only words. The point is we don't know, maybe Romo never gets us in position to make that throw at the end, maybe Romo doesn't lead us to victory against the Redskins or the Titans.
It comes down to this for me, are you ready to jeopardize the season by naming Tony Romo the starter? Before the Romo faithful storm the Bastille and string me up by my toes, I'm not saying he would ruin this season, just that there is no way of knowing what would happen. If your contention is that the season is over anyway if we continue to play Bledsoe, then you should be calling for Romo. But I'm not ready to go there yet, the season is still young and the possibility of this team doing something good is still a reality.
My plan hinges on a lot of "ifs", but those "ifs" are no more outrageous than the "ifs" that surround putting in an unknown at quarterback. The Cowboys could turn to Julius Jones more against the better pass rushing defenses, and they could put the spread offense in their back pocket during those games. They could adjust their protection schemes and run more short pass audibles. It's not the case that the whole team failed against Philadelphia, in fact, if Flozell Adams and Pat Watkins had played a decent game then the Cowboys would almost assuredly be celebrating a victory this week. That's a big "if", but is it anymore of an "if" than the "if" surrounding Tony Romo? In my mind, it's not.
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that Tony Romo will not be a good quarterback in this league one day. I'm actually kind of excited about his prospects. I'm also not suggesting that Drew Bledsoe doesn't deserve some of the blame for his shaky play, but he also has days when he's pretty darn good. There's no real answer to this dilemma, no one has the absolute truth on their side.
So to each their own, you know what they say, opinions are like ... well, their like an opening on the body that resides somewhere between the thighs and the lower back. So everyone has one. For me, I'm going to stick with Drew Bledsoe, and pray that he gets it together, along with the offensive line and the Cowboys coaching staff. There's as much certainty in that as there is in praying that Tony Romo will hit the ground running without a glitch in his stride.