We have all grown to love Tony Romo as he has routinely put this team on his back both literally and figuratively. However, over the last few seasons, we have come to find that this isn't a sport that you can play forever. This is in no way a rush to judgement that Tony Romo is done with football. It is, however, a piggyback on the column that was written by my great colleague, Tom Ryle. We have to be optimistic as fans but also keep an eye on the reality of the situation. For any player, you are only one hit or awkward movement away from the shelf, that's the absolute truth. You're going to hear many different reports on what it is, what it ain't, how long he'll be out. Here's an optimistic look but with a 36-year-old, please bet the over:
4-6 weeks on that injury. https://t.co/wHAO7Wb41H— Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) August 27, 2016
Instead of making this a doom and gloom column about Tony Romo, we must look forward to the man who, at this point, looks primed to start in his place. For a guy like Dak Prescott, he's had one heck of a preseason. Nobody could have predicted this guy would have as good a run at QB2 as he has had this quickly. When he's been with the ones, he's performed. When he's been with the twos, no problem. He's done everything that you can ask of him regardless of the circumstances. Sure, it's preseason and he's a rookie but you cannot fault him for anything right now as he can only tackle the tasks at hand. He's 39 of 50 passing with almost an 80% completion percentage, he's had five touchdowns to zero interceptions. He's posted passer ratings of 154.5, 158.3 (perfect), and 99.2 respectively.
Dak Prescott will open season as starter. There is no debate there. Jerry and Stephen Jones say they will look for veteran backup.— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) August 27, 2016
The Cowboys have to take advantage of this opportunity to get Dak Prescott ready for the season. That's not saying that they shouldn't look for a veteran presence while Romo is on the mend, but they certainly shouldn't start a veteran. Prescott has earned every right to be the guy they call on September 11th and it certainly looks good that ownership is behind him. Now, they must make sure that what happened in 2015 doesn't happen. Make no mistake, if not for horrendous quarterback play, the Cowboys would have done a lot better than 4-12. So, how do they make sure that doesn't happen?
In this offense, points can be scored in bunches with what the Cowboys currently have on the depth chart. You have one of the most talented and athletic offensive lines in football. Currently, you also have a rookie running back in Ezekiel Elliott, who seemingly plays lights out. Behind him, you have Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden (if he makes the team), two guys who have also proven they can tote the rock. You got gadget players that can make devastating plays when called upon in Lucky Whitehead, Lance Dunbar and perhaps Darius Jackson.
Add to that pot an outstanding All-Pro receiver in Dez Bryant who is determined to make it happen in 2016. You have Terrance Williams who is "going to let his play talk for him". Cole Beasley and Jason Witten are both absolute nightmares to cover on third down. This offense doesn't need Dak Prescott to be Tony Romo. If I were a betting man, give him 15-20 throws per game and let him use these weapons in front him to do his 'dirty' work.
We look at the defense and we see a lot of unknowns but you got to start somewhere. If anything, they will be a feisty bunch of youngsters. There are concerns about their linebacker depth and defensive ends but their defensive tackles look like a formidable group of guys that can collapse some pockets in 2016. Some tend to forget that you can't have Pro Bowlers everywhere but this team has certain 'pieces'. Absolutely that comes with a list of 'ifs' and 'buts', still, they have some pieces. Sean Lee, Orlando Scandrick, Byron Jones, Cedric Thornton, Tyrone Crawford, and even Jack Crawford are some nice guys to have. DeMarcus Lawrence will be out for four games but he'll be coming back to rally the troops in week five.
This is not a team that looks like they have to tread water like last season. Dak Prescott is not the same quarterback that Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore are. He's got a swagger about him and a calmness in the pocket that takes most guys a few years to learn. Is he a rookie? Yes, but it's not like rookies haven't had great seasons before. Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, and Dan Marino are some of the best to ever do it and they had nice rookie campaigns. We won't elevate Dak Prescott to that level just yet but there is no harm in rooting for this kid to succeed.
Dak has gone from being a guy that nobody was really excited about to a guy that people think this franchise can potentially be built around in the future. He's outplayed rookies in this class that other franchise traded premier resources to move up and get. As much as a 23-11 record with Romo, 1-13 without in recent years is daunting, this just doesn't have the feel of that 2015 bunch that was inept offensively. They have been following Prescott's leadership in the huddle and none of these guys seem to think he carries himself like a rookie. Not a single soul could have predicted that he would do as well as he's done with his opportunities.
Call me an optimist, but I, for one, am just strapped in for the ride.