This was the headline of the day as Tony Romo continues to creep ever closer to a full return.
Tony Romo threw some passes today at the Dallas Cowboys practice. That qualifies as the biggest step yet in his efforts to return to the playing field after fracturing a vertebra in preseason. But, Romo was not dressed in football gear, instead throwing in shorts and a shirt, and he only participated in some individual drills at the beginning of practice.
Technically, Romo is not practicing. He is still being reported as not participating, which is more about his not being available for Sunday's game (or the next one, most likely).
The media was all atwitter (figuratively and literally) about Romo's appearance today, but it may just be proof that the reporters don't always know the whole story.
Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, who has led Dallas to a 5-1 start in Romo's absence, said Romo throwing didn't surprise him or the rest of the team.
"He's been doing stuff like that behind the scenes," Prescott said. "I guess it's just the first time y'all have saw him."
An interesting look at how no one saw the success of Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, or some of the other rookie QBs this season, partly because video and combine numbers only tell so much. Erick Galko thinks this season may point out a better approach to finding those elusive franchise quarterbacks.
"What I think it should do is that this whole QB contract market should get turned upside down," Galko says, "because you can take a QB in the second through fourth round every year. If you hit even once, not only do you have a Dak Prescott, you're saving millions of dollars per year on a quarterback."
This is a nice piece on the mental side of playing in the NFL, and it may point to a very underrated factor for the Cowboys this season: They are now playing with all the confidence in the world.
Confidence is the most important mental factor in the ability of a NFL player. If you believe you can do it, if you believe you are good, then you will play well. But in the face of adversity, you must overcome that dip in your confidence so you can find a way to make plays and win games. And it's often the little stuff that make the biggest difference.
One oddity about the Dallas defense is that the various stats, such as yards per play and third down percentages, don't add up to holding opponents to 17.8 points per game. They do poorly in most sub-categories. Jean-Jaques Taylor has an interesting theory on what is making the difference.
Perhaps the reason why the Cowboys' defense is having strong results is as simple as they're tackling better. When you tackle well, drives end when they're supposed to end because a runner didn't break free and pick up a first down.
A runner didn't escape the grasp of a defender and was tackled for a loss, setting up second- or third-and-long. A quarterback didn't escape a sack, wrecking a drive.
Good tackling doesn't necessarily show up in stats, but the cumulative effect is noticeable.
Bob Sturm takes a bye week look at the Dallas offense, and like many, he continues to be amazed at what has happened.
But, forgive many of us for still not fully believing what we have seen from this offense in 2016. Now, it is much too early to declare anything as conclusive, because it is a long season and posers will still be exposed (not to mention that the Cowboys will likely rush back to Romo as soon as possible). But, doggone, the job that Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Scott Linehan, and friends have done in six games is nothing short of phenomenal.
Part of the argument about whether to put Romo back in is what he adds to the offense, but that may not be as much as many think.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson said there is nothing limited about the offense with Prescott compared to what they would do with Romo.
Say more things like this, Troy.
"When you evaluate this club and what they have done, I don't know exactly how this offense can improve," Aikman said. "I don't know what they can do better. What they have done is pretty amazing. You say maybe they can get more deep balls. Well, OK, but in the big scheme of things how is this offense going to get better no matter who is playing quarterback?"
David Irving has suddenly emerged as a real weapon on the defensive line, and at least part of the credit goes to a guy who's been there and done that.
The 6-7, 285-pound Irving is working with tackles coach Leon Lett, also a former Cowboys Pro Bowler. Irving said Lett has unique ability to coach someone of his length and size who plays both inside and outside on the defensive line.
Rob Phillips lists some players who may be under-recognized for their contributions to the hot start. This one is probably the biggest surprise for almost all of us.
S J.J. Wilcox: He lost his starting job at free safety to Byron Jones, and some thought he'd be on the roster bubble when the team drafted Kavon Frazier in the sixth round. Instead, the coaches have made an effort to work Wilcox into the rotation, and he has responded with sure tackling and solid plays on the football, including a key third-down pass breakup against the 49ers.
The Cowboys have a good feel for him after working with him at the Senior Bowl. He was the top quarterback on their board, well ahead of Dak Prescott, heading into the draft. There's a lot to like with Wentz, but he has started to turn the ball over more in recent weeks now that defenses have gotten some tape on him.
In the battle of rookie starting quarterbacks, the advantage may go to Dallas.
QB Carson Wentz: The No. 2 overall pick has fallen into a mini-slump. Over the past two games, Wentz has completed just 54 percent of his throws and has one touchdown to three turnovers. Coach Doug Pederson pointed to a mechanical issue that they'll be looking to clean up in practice this week. It's probably no coincidence that the downward turn began at the same time right tackle Lane Johnson started serving his suspension. Even though his replacement, rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai, settled in some last week against Minnesota, Wentz still seemed out of his comfort zone. Perhaps the Cowboys can prevent him from rediscovering his groove by applying pressure early.
Our boon companion in the blogosphere, KD Drummond, takes a look at some reliable predictors to try and figure out who has the real advantage when the Cowboys host the Eagles. Looks like it may be a close and exciting game (which NBC and the NFL really need).
Dallas has a firm edge when it comes to big plays known as Toxic Events, while the Eagles have a clear advantage in passer rating differential. If either team is able to wrestle the advantage away from the other on Sunday night in either of these categories, it should be a clear indication of who emerges victorious.
Cedric Thornton started his career with the Eagles, but it doesn't stop him from feeling a tad strongly about this week's game.
Because of his time in Philadelphia, Thornton has an interesting take on the rivalry. /p "It's the same perspective we got here -- we hate 'em," Thornton said. "Just like we hate everybody else in the division. We hate them."