As is the case when you enter December with a lone blemish in the loss column… you start to think about things – legitimate things:
- When will the Cowboys clinch the division? (December 11th in my estimation)
- When will the Cowboys clinch a first-round bye? (We'll discuss in the coming weeks)
- When will the Cowboys clinch home-field advantage? (stay tuned to Inside The Star)
Typically when an NFL team is in the position the current Cowboys are, they have to consider these things. We're talking about if the Cowboys have clinched all that they can with time left before the playoffs. In other words… what if the Cowboys play a totally meaningless game in Week 17? (or Week 16, you get the picture).
In situations like that these teams normally rest their starters or give them minimal playing time so as to minimize the risk for injury. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, and others likely won't play in these hypothetical games… but what about Tony Romo?
Should the Dallas Cowboys reach a point where they have clinched everything that they can (division, bye, home-field) then they should absolutely not play Tony Romo. Here's why.
Would You Rather Have Tony Romo Or Mark Sanchez In The Playoffs?
That's what this boils down to, ultimately.
Say the Dallas Cowboys decide to play Tony Romo in a meaningless game… and that he gets hurt. Then say a few weeks later in the NFC Championship game against the Seahawks that Dak Prescott gets hurt. Do you know who your knight in shining armor is in that moment? Mark Sanchez.
The Cowboys have what is indisputably the best backup quarterback in the NFL with Tony Romo on the sidelines. Why would they jeopardize that? Let's not forget that Tony Romo, as much as we all love him, has been critically hurt in two of the last three regular season games that he's played (three out of six if you count the bits of 2016 preseason). Why would you jeopardize his health – which could be needed in the playoffs – for literally no gain?
“The Cowboys Can Maximize Tony Romo's Trade Value By Him Playing Well”
When you say that Romo shouldn't play a meaningless game, this is typically the response that you get. It is not practical or of sound reason.
Could Tony Romo trot out during a meaningless game and play some of the finest football that we've ever seen, thus making whoever will want him this offseason want him all the more? Sure. Anything can happen. But in your opinion is that likely? Would you even give it 50% chance of likelihood? Of course not, because you're someone who is practical and of sound reason.
These are the possible results of Tony Romo playing in a meaningless game:
- He's awesome and improves his trade stock.
- He's not awesome and diminishes his trade stock.
- He gets hurt.
Even if Option 1 was the result… how much is Tony Romo really going to improve his trade stock at this point? He's a very seasoned veteran, people know who he is. The best thing going for Tony Romo honestly might be that nobody has seen him play in over a year.
Tony Romo's Mystery: Why It's A Good Thing
The last time that Tony Romo took a regular season snap in the NFL was November 26th, 2015. That was a long time ago.
If you fast forward to the offseason someone is going to have interest in him, we've already heard about the teams that supposedly do. The greatest thing Tony Romo has going for him right now is the element of surprise in that no one knows whether he can still do it at a high level anymore.
Why is it a great thing? What if you're an NFL GM and, during a meaningless game, you find out Tony Romo can't do it anymore? It's an uncomfortable reality that we don't really want to come to terms with, but what if Tony Romo simply cannot get it done like he used to? This would explain why the team went with Dak Prescott, and playing Tony Romo for no reason flirts with a lot more negative repercussions than positive results.
Tony Romo Or Mark Sanchez: That's What This Comes Down To
We're back to where we started here and that's whether you would rather have Tony Romo or Mark Sanchez quarterbacking your Cowboys in the playoffs should Dak Prescott get hurt.
Right now we believe that Tony Romo can still get it done at a high level, and dangling that potential lottery ticket over a flame of injury and accidents is not smart business. That's what this is all about – business. Playing Tony Romo in a completely meaningless game (which by the way would likely be IN Philadelphia) is going against the philosophy of preserving depth that this team has reaped the benefits from all season long.
We all believe that Tony Romo still has a lot in the tank. This is exactly why if the Cowboys are in a meaningless game that they shouldn't risk him for the sake of maybe/possibly/hopefully improving his supposed trade stock. It's not smart business.