On Sunday, October 30th; the now 6-1 Dallas Cowboys faced off against the now 4-3 Philadelphia Eagles. In what has been dubbed the #YearOfTheRookie, this is the ultimate rookie battle. Two of the three best rookie quarterbacks of this year’s rookie/first year starter class go head to head and battle for supremacy for their respective teams in their division; the NFC East. Carson Wentz goes on the road to face Dak Prescott. The rookie who a team (the Eagles) traded up to get versus a rookie that slipped to the 4th round and many overlooked but would go one to lead America’s team (the Cowboys). As juicy and exciting as this storyline appears to be, it is nothing compared to the internal battle raging in Arlington, TX.
When the Dallas Cowboys drafted Dak Prescott, whether they realized it or not, they struck gold. Dak Prescott has arguably been the best rookie/first year starter in the NFL this season; a strong case could be made for both Carson Wentz and Trevor Siemian of the Denver Broncos as well. What this find even better for the Cowboys was the preseason back injury of Tony Romo that would sideline him for 6-10 weeks. As great as Dak looked in the preseason, there was still skepticism, even amongst the most loyal of Cowboys Nation, that Dak would not be the same when the games mattered. Dak has silenced many critics and left the Cowboys with an unexpected major decision to make: Who do you start when Tony Romo is healthy enough to play again?
There is an argument to be made on both sides: Starting Romo versus Leaving Dak. Behind those arguments are two very loyal factions: Those who support Romo and those who support Dak. As a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, I can understand the passion behind both factions. I can see the loyalty to Tony Romo as he has put his health on the line for this team for a decade or so. He deserves to be rewarded with another shot under center. Conversely, I can understand the Dak supporters and their desire to move on from Tony Romo and start a new chapter with Dak Prescott. As a sports analyst and member of sports media who happens to be a Cowboys fan, I’m here to provide some rationality on who the Dallas Cowboys should choose moving forward.
First, to the Tony Romo detractors, those who want to shame Tony Romo and say he hasn’t done much for the team, just stop. Without Tony Romo over the past 10 or so years, the Cowboys would not have even been mediocre. They would have been awful. As the old saying goes, the numbers never lie. The numbers for Tony Romo over his career prove his greatness. For his career Tony Romo has complete 65% of his passes for 34,154 yards, 247 touchdowns, 117 interceptions and a 97.1 career quarterback rating. Breaking the popular belief that he is a choker, Romo has the highest December quarterback rating of all time a 133.7 and the highest 4th quarter QBR of all time. As a Dallas Cowboys starter, he rates among the best. He is the franchise leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, 4th quarter comebacks/game-winning drives, and the lowest career interception percentage. Tony Romo is much better than people give him credit for. He deserves to lead the team when he gets back…but he shouldn’t.
For all that Romo has done for the Cowboys, at 36 years old, he is too prone to injury, which is no fault of his own. You can’t blame Tony Romo for the inability of Jerry Jones to protect him in his prime years. That being said, for all the love that Cowboys Nation has for Tony, Dak Prescott is not only the future, but he is the present. After signature wins over the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals, and starting his career with 176 pass attempts before throwing his first interception, Dak has proved that he is ready to lead his team. Cowboys fan need accept that Romo’s time is over. The sun has set on his time as leader of America’s team. For Dak, the sun is rising and he’s ready to lead this team.