This Saturday the Dallas Cowboys will play a preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. It will be a very important contest for an undrafted quarterback looking to make the Cowboys roster.
This sentence is as true today as it was precisely 679 weeks ago when Dallas was getting ready to head to Oakland and second-year quarterback Tony Romo was trying to impress (at the time) future Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells.
Romo would play impressively, to the degree that fans would remember the drive he engineered late in the fourth quarter to win the game. It was our first real glimpse at Romo’s magic, and if you feel like walking down memory lane the always-great Bob Sturm had a fantastic recap a year ago:
The day is August 21, 2004. The Cowboys are playing preseason game No. 2 of the 2004 season, so keep in mind this was two weeks after Quincy Carter was told goodbye due to his pot issue. The team had just drafted Julius Jones, Jacob Rogers, and Stephen Peterman. They had just won 10 games and lost to Carolina in the 2003 playoffs, and they had a QB depth chart of Vinny Testeverde, Drew Henson, and some kid named Tony Romo.
13 years later it’s Central Michigan’s Cooper Rush who’s got the chance to turn some heads from around America’s Team against the Raiders. Rush has already done a great job of it through three preseason games, but the preseason’s annual “dress rehearsal” is a chance like no other.
The connection between these two events is pretty interesting, considering the rise in the level of play of the undrafted signal-callers. Obviously you’ve got the fact that both games in question was/is against the Raiders, but there are a few more “interesting” coincidences:
- In 2004 the previous season’s Super Bowl was in Houston. It was a close contest between the New England Patriots and an NFC South team, the Carolina Panthers. New England won. It was Carolina’s second season under their head coach (John Fox).
- In 2017 the previous season’s Super Bowl was in Houston. It was a close contest between the New England Patriots and an NFC South team, the Atlanta Falcons. New England won. It was Atlanta’s second season under their head coach (Dan Quinn).
- There was a quarterback in front of Romo in 2004 on the depth chart that a lot of fans had grown tired with, #17 Quincy Carter (who was released as Sturm notes).
- There is a quarterback in front of Rush now on the depth chart that a lot of fans have grown tired with, #17 Kellen Moore.
- The Cowboys had a young, promising rookie running back, who’s first and last name started with the same letter, on the team in 2004 (Julius Jones). He wore #21 and would miss time that season.
- The Cowboys currently have a young, promising running back, who’s first and last name starts with the same letter, on the team (Ezekiel Elliott). He wears #21 and is currently suspended for the season’s first six games.
What does all of this mean, exactly? Absolutely nothing. Cooper Rush is not Tony Romo, these are all just fun coincidences that would make for a great movie (hit me up Disney).
What does make sense is that this Saturday will be Cooper Rush’s chance to make this team. He’s been extremely impressive up to this point, but the dress rehearsal is a different set of circumstances.
Maybe 679 weeks from now we’ll be getting ready for a preseason game against the Raiders and someone who’s a kid now will be trying to make the Cowboys roster as undrafted quarterback. Wouldn’t that be something?