One of the most talked about topics this offseason has been how the Cowboys should approach their quarterback situation. Fans got a good glimpse of life without Tony Romo last season and it was horrifying. Father time continues to linger around AT&T Stadium just waiting to punch Romo's ticket. Despite Jerry Jones Nostradamus-like calculations, it remains unclear as to just how long Tony can keep going. The end is coming and when it does - what are the Cowboys going to do?
It is expected that the Cowboys front office will look at ways to give the team some better options at the position this offseason. With no activity happening in free agency, all eyes turn to the upcoming draft to address this need. A lot of people have their own ideas as to what would be the best way to go about it. There have been some compelling arguments made on this issue, which include points such as:
- Don't waste #4 on a quarterback as a player at different position would provide a more immediate impact.
- That's a big investment to just sit around with a clipboard for a few years.
- Good quarterbacks can be found past the first round.
- The best chance to land a franchise QB is with an early pick.
We all have our own thoughts on which of these reasons make the most sense, but many of us are completely clueless when it comes to trying to figure out what the Cowboys' front office is thinking. Fans are hoping the team pulls a strong-arm rabbit out of their hat come draft time because we don't want to see this team become stuck in purgatory while they wait for the next good quarterback to show up in Dallas. It's happened before and it could happen again.
Some of us remember that time all too well, but for those that don't - let's take a little stroll down memory lane.
Troy Aikman's football playing days came to an abrupt end after the 2000 season due to a career filled with concussions and back issues that plagued him during his final season. The loss of Aikman left the Cowboys in a precarious spot regarding the quarterback position. To complicate matters even more, the Cowboys didn't have a first-round pick in the 2001 draft because they gave it to Seattle as part of the Joey Galloway trade. Michael Vick and Drew Brees were the only two quality quarterbacks in the 2001 draft and both of them were off the board before the Cowboys had a chance to make a selection. But that didn't stop Jerry Jones from going after a QB. Back then, there was no Will McClay or Jason Garrett around to fill the war room with sensible decision making. And Stephen Jones was far less experienced than he is now. Despite what the scouts thought (which at that time, included Bryan Broaddus), Jerry, Stephen, and Dave Campo felt a sense of urgency and selected Quincy Carter with their first pick in the draft (57th overall). This move confused a lot of people as Carter was a player who many thought could be taken a couple rounds later.
The Cowboys would struggle at the QB position over the next five years as they shuffled through an assortment of options. Carter, Chad Hutchinson, Drew Henson, Vinny Testaverde, and Drew Bledsoe all had their chances to quarterback America's Team. The Cowboys had a surplus of choices, but none of them were good ones.
When Bill Parcells took over as the head coach in 2003, he and his quarterback's coach at the time, Sean Payton, were able to bring in Tony Romo as an undrafted free agent. Despite Romo's potential, he was buried on the depth chart. He was still raw and had a propensity to just throw the ball recklessly all over the field which didn't sit well with his head coach. His gunslinger tendencies kept him from winning over Bill Parcell so Romo just patiently sat back and waited.
Quincy Carter wasn't able to perform on the field like the team expected, but it was his off-the-field decisions that would be his demise. After struggling with drugs, Parcells finally cut him loose in 2004 and turned to Vinny Testaverde. This was just enough slack to keep Romo on the roster and after some strong preseason game performances, he would plant himself as the Cowboys number two quarterback behind Bledsoe in 2005. After struggling in the first part of the 2006 season, Bledsoe would be get the hook and Tony Romo would finally get his shot.
And the next ten seasons would be a wild ride.
While the Romo era is still in progress, the Cowboys don't want to find themselves in a situation where they are scrambling around for a quarterback when he is no longer available. The time to do something is now.
Bill Parcells talked about quarterbacks having attributes you can't see that can either act as an impetus or a deterrent to their success. This explains why college standouts like JaMarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf have faltered in the NFL, and lesser-knowns like Romo have flourished. This makes it challenging to draft a quarterback with any type of confidence.
It may feel like the Cowboys got lucky with Romo, but he was one guy out of several options that happened to work out. The team has to make their own luck and the only way to do that is to keep churning. Maybe the answer is Kellen Moore. If not, they better have another guy in line ready to go. Get these young players in and let them showcase their skills in training camp and during preseason. And do it while Tony is still around. That way, when Tony's time is finally up, the Cowboys have an option they feel good about rather than having their backs against the wall to where they pull off another move like the Quincy Carter fiasco.