The next three seasons are going to be filled with excitement because Tony Romo will be under center. And as long as Romo is at the helm, this Dallas Cowboys team is going to be in contention. However, the uncertainty of what's going to happen next will be unnerving because franchise quarterbacks are a rare commodity. So for some fans, it's just best not to think about that. Out of sight, out of mind. But while the Cowboys keep riding the Romocoaster, it would behoove the front office to have a good upside backup QB in their back pocket for the dreaded day that Tony calls it quits. Could that guy already be on the roster?
Imagine for a moment that Dustin Vaughan kills it this preseason. Say he completes 69% of his passes, throws for three touchdowns, and finishes with a QB rating of 95. That would raise an eyebrow or two, don't you think? Those are the numbers Tony Romo had in 2006 during his final preseason as the Cowboys backup quarterback. He gave fans a glimpse of the future. Wouldn't it be nice if Vaughan could give fans a similar glimpse?
But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
The Cowboys will enter training camp with two candidates fighting for the backup QB position. Brandon Weeden is the incumbent backup and should be the front-runner to hold down the spot. Quarterback coach Wade Wilson has liked what he saw from Weeden in OTAs and the veteran QB is starting to get more comfortable in the Cowboys system. Fans don't seem to share Wilson's same level of confidence as last year's Arizona game still resonates in the back of their minds. He was terrible in that game as he threw passes into the ground, behind receivers, and was more accurate throwing to Cardinals players than his own. Maybe it was because he was wasn't acclimated to the offense. Or maybe it is because he's just not that good. Whichever it may be, the coaching staff is giving him more time to see if he can contribute to this offense.
But is more time the answer? Weeden's been given chances and he hasn't been able to provide people much reason to get excited. How much development is still needed for a guy who's 31 years old? Maybe it's time for Dustin Vaughan.
Vaughan had a great senior year at West Texas A & M with ridiculous passing stats. In 2013, he finished the season with 5,401 passing yards and 53 TDs. Of course, all that was against Division II opponents. Even still, the Cowboys like what they see in him. They burned a roster spot for him last season to ensure he wouldn't get snagged from the practice squad.
As training camp begins and pre-season action commences it is going to be interesting to follow the progress of Vaughan. Not only will it answer questions about who is the most qualified to hold down the current backup QB spot, but it could also give people more of a sense about his chances of becoming Romo's successor. If Vaughan shows great improvement and starts making some head-turning plays, then the forecast for the post-Romo era may start to become a little less cloudy.
If things work according to plan Vaughan is not going to be taking any meaningful snaps in the regular season, but it would be encouraging to see the Cowboys young project QB show some good skills in the pre-season. He's got the build for it, at 6-5 and 235 pounds. He's got the arm strength. He's just got to be able to dial in his accuracy and become confident in the pocket. And the upcoming month could be real telling as to what type of future he has in Dallas.
While the quarterback position may be something fans don't want to give much thought toward at this moment, the quest to find a capable replacement will be an important goal coming out of camp this year. With Jason Garrett always pushing everyone on his roster to be ready, the backup QB spot should come with higher expectations this season.
A great preseason showing for Vaughan could mean a lot of good things for the team going forward. It could mean that the added pressure of scrutinizing the 2016 draft class for a replacement may be avoided. It could mean that fans don't have to pull the plug on the season if an injured Romo is seen walking into the locker room. It could mean hope.
What would it mean to you?