Dak Prescott or Tony Romo? Who should start at quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys the rest of the year? This has been a raging debate on Blogging The Boys, and across the NFL world. Let me make a simple and straightforward argument for a solution that could maximize the benefits for the Cowboys this year and beyond.
At this point in 2016, it is obvious the Cowboys have two very capable quarterbacks that have put up incredible numbers with an offense constructed as the Cowboys’ currently is, namely a:
- Powerful offensive line,
- Very strong running game, and
- Bevy of talented receivers.
Tony Romo’s stats from 2014 and Dak Prescott’s stats from 2016 are nearly identical to this point in those respective seasons.
If the Cowboys could be assured that Tony Romo would stay healthy if he played, his experience might provide an edge over Dak Prescott, though Dak also has qualities that Romo cannot match.
But, for the future, the Cowboys would benefit greatly by giving Dak Prescott additional experience, before they have to make a decision on whether to keep Tony after this season.
Accordingly, the solution is fairly simple.
- Play Dak Prescott as long as he’s healthy, productive, and winning games.
- Have Tony Romo ready to play should Dak falter or start losing.
- Don’t make a final decision on whether to insert Romo or stay with Dak until the latest point necessary for Romo to be his sharpest and healthiest going into the playoffs.
There are three powerful reasons why this is the best solution.
First, if Dak Prescott can both win games and improve while playing, the fastest way to help him increase his value to the Cowboys is to keep playing him. This has been confirmed by how much Dak Prescott has improved already this season.
Second, by continuing to play Dak Prescott, Dallas is gaining valuable intelligence on whether Dak will be ready to permanently assume the mantle of starting quarterback as early as 2017. Before Dallas considers trading Tony Romo to gain draft picks and cap room, the team needs to gain as much confidence as it can that Dak will not be a one-year wonder. Playing Dak as long as possible is the best way to answer this question.
Third, by continuing to play Dak Prescott as long as possible, Dallas keeps Tony Romo out of harms way and healthy. The threat of further injury is the biggest question mark for Tony Romo going forward. It’s likely his body can no longer execute what his mind wants it to as well as it once did, but this is a secondary concern. Can Tony survive three games in a row, let alone eight, or thirteen? Obviously the fewer games the Cowboys expose Tony Romo to getting hit by opponents, the more likely he is to remain healthy into the postseason if the Cowboys get there. Keeping Tony healthy is just as relevant to a 2016 playoff run as it is to protecting his value should Dallas decide to trade him at the end of the year.
If the Dallas Cowboys think that Tony Romo is going to be a better playoff quarterback than Dak Prescott this year, how many games will Romo need to play to be at his sharpest for the postseason and for Dallas to confirm whether this is true? The Cowboys don’t have to make a decision whether to insert Tony Romo before that point.
But, if Dak Prescott falters and starts losing or is hurt himself before this point, as soon as Tony Romo is physically ready, he could and should be re-inserted into the starting lineup.
This approach doesn’t guarantee that Tony Romo will get his job back. It’s possible Dak Prescott and the team could play so well going forward that a change would not be prudent when the Cowboys reach the playoff-sharpening point needed for Romo. It also doesn’t artificially cut off the growth and evaluation period for Dak Prescott as long as the Cowboys are winning games.
But it also ensures that if the Cowboys decide Romo is the better choice for the playoffs, that he’s both fully healthy when he returns, and his exposure to further injury is limited before the playoffs begin.
If the Cowboys remain on track for the postseason, the decision should ultimately come down to who the Cowboys brass perceives, at the moment they have to decide, gives them the best chance to win in the postseason in 2016. The longer they can delay this final decision, the better off the Cowboys will be.