In regard to the Dallas Cowboys there are two sides to Tony Romo. There is Tony Romo the Quarterback and there is Tony Romo the honorary member of the Jones family. Tony will forever be part of the Jones’ extended family but today we’re discussing the Quarterback side of Tony Romo.
Tony Romo is no longer the Starting Quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. This is a fact that snuck up on all Cowboys fans as the team’s 2016 winning streak grew.
What many Cowboys fans are still struggling to understand, though, is that barring a major injury to Dak Prescott, or some ceremonial situation where Tony takes a snap and a knee to closeout the NFC Championship game (likely Tony’s final moment as a member of the Cowboys in Dallas), Tony Romo will never play Quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys again.
We all know what Tony Romo has given to Dallas over the last decade but right now the focus of this team and its legion needs to be on the present and future.
Tony Romo the Quarterback is now just an emergency QB option, and an asset waiting to be traded.
One of the most frequent questions I am asked is if I think Tony might play in place of Dak in Week 17, whether it's for the entire game or even just a half.
There is simply too much risk with Tony Romo to do that, both from a performance standpoint and an injury standpoint.
Lets talk about performance first
In 2015, after Tony returned from injury, he simply wasn’t himself. He threw five INTs on 49 passes in the Week 11 & 12 games against the Dolphins and Panthers. Historically, 2.7% of Tony’s 4,331 passes have been intercepted. Over 49 passes during those two weeks, 10% of Tony’s passes were intercepted.
If Tony comes in and plays and doesn’t look like 2014 Romo, the team has hurt the value of its most valuable trade asset.
What if Tony lights it up Week 17, then the Cowboys lose early in the playoffs with a bad game from Dak? Chaos ensues.
Right now everyone knows who is the Starting Quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. If that situation unfolded in Week 17 and the Cowboys first playoff game, the offseason would be a disaster. ESPN wouldn’t be able to stop itself from the non-stop QB controversy coverage. Think of Skip Bayless and his Tebow talk and multiply that by a billion billions.
Let's talk about injury now
Including preseason games, Tony Romo has suffered three major injuries in his last 56 pass attempts. Clavicle. Clavicle. Back. Those three injuries have all occurred just since September 20, 2015 against Philadelphia.
56 PASS ATTEMPTS. 3 MAJOR INJURIES.
The Cowboys simply cannot risk another major injury just three months before Jerry and Stephen Jones attempt to start a bidding war for the future services of Tony Romo.
So why is Tony the game day backup if the Cowboys have no interest in getting him any snaps?
There is a difference between wanting him to play and him being forced into action. If Dak goes down with an injury, you want Tony Romo getting snaps. Tony then becomes the ticket to the Super Bowl. They will give Tony snaps if forced to but the Cowboys cannot risk injury or poor performance over garbage-time snaps, just to give him snaps.
If anyone is going to see garbage time snaps, expect it to be Mark Sanchez, if he is indeed active Week 17.
A lot of people have argued that no team is going to give anything major in trade for Tony Romo. Did you see what the Vikings gave up for Sam Bradford? IT'S SAM BRADFORD, folks.
Tony Romo has a very tradable contract
Tony is only owed $14m in 2017, $19.5m in 2018, $20.5m in 2019, and none of that money is guaranteed. Jerry and Stephen will sell that as "the next two years for $33.5m total, $16.75m per year."
There will be some team that thinks they're just a Quarterback away from success, just like the Vikings felt they were. Someone will bite.
I know this article felt cold and harsh, but that’s just how business is. Business transactions don’t have feelings in these moments. Sure, Jerry and Stephen will likely let Romo have some say in where he goes. Tony Romo likely never moves out of the Dallas area and probably returns to work with the team in some capacity after retirement.
But, barring some major injury to Dak, Tony is just sitting on a bench waiting for the next train to an unknown destination.
NFL to Study Marijuana Use, Will It Impact Randy Gregory’s Status?
The NFLPA and the NFL have reached an agreement to research alternative pain-management tools for the players. They'll form joint medical committees to study different strategies, among which will be the use of marijuana. It's important to make it clear that said committees will not be exclusively about marijuana, but a lot of different issues related to pain-management in the league. However, it'll likely be one of the most important aspects of their work.
Marijuana continues to be a highly debated topic and it's no different when discussing the NFL. Dallas Cowboys fans should be very familiar with the situation. Earlier this year, David Irving "quit" on football during an Instagram live stream while smoking weed. In the video, Irving talks about how he thinks it's better to be addicted to marijuana rather than certain medications used by NFL teams to treat their players.
Although David Irving is not an authority on substances, that is where all of this debate centers around. Throughout the league, players are given strong medication to deal with injuries and the physical pain of playing pro football. I'm not an expert either, but it's more than fair to say there's a strong argument here. Specially in a country where marijuana has already been legalized in 10 states and the trend points toward legalization continuing.
The current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) between the NFL and NFLPA will expire after the 2020 season and how the league's drug policy looks like in the new agreement will be a huge factor for reaching a satisfactory CBA for both sides.
Of course, the fact that the NFLPA and the league are working together on such an important task doesn't mean we will see any immediate changes or that the NFL's ban on marijuana will be lifted anytime soon. Many big question marks will have to be answered before we hear about teams implementing this substance as a pain management tool.
For the Dallas Cowboys, this will be a relevant narrative down the line. Pass rusher Randy Gregory was reinstated after serving an indefinite suspension due to substance abuse prior to the 2018 season. After a dominant year, Gregory was suspended again by the NFL and it all points toward him sitting out this upcoming season and perhaps even more.
Even still, the Cowboys are still standing behind their 2015 second round pick. If the league ends up lifting its ban on marijuana, they'll have to decide what they will do with players already serving a suspension for this reason. Guys like Randy Gregory, for instance. If it's decided they'll be reinstated to the NFL, the Cowboys will sure be glad to have supported Gregory all throughout the process.
Last year, the pass rusher proved how effective he could be even with a short period of time training. Hopefully, the Cowboys are able to get him back on the field eventually, where's been consistently dominant. In the meantime, we'll see how recently acquired Robert Quinn does in Dallas.
The NFL won't be lifting its ban anytime soon, but it's good to know they're at least open minded to changing the league's policy and consider alternatives that could benefit the players' health. We'll see how these new medical committees work and keep you updated here at Inside The Star.
Should Cowboys Consider Trading for Disgruntled Packers S Josh Jones?
Despite their insistence that upgrading the safety position was a top offseason priority, the Dallas Cowboys haven't really done much to improve the backend of their secondary. They did sign former Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals Safety George Iloka as a free agent and drafted Donovan Wilson in the sixth-round in this year's NFL Draft, but neither player looks like a clear-cut upgrade at this point. Fortunately, there's still time to find Xavier Woods' counterpart for 2019.
Xavier Woods is the only clear-cut starter at safety currently on the Dallas Cowboys roster. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine as to who starts opposite him this season. With that in mind, the Cowboys should be keeping all of their options open, including acquiring players who get released or even making a trade for someone they like. The latter is what I want to talk about today.
A potential safety who could be put on the trade block that I'm kind of intrigued with is Josh Jones, who has reportedly requested a trade from the Green Bay Packers.
Packers safety Josh Jones is skipping the voluntary OTAs and working out in Florida because he's hoping to be traded, a source told ESPN. The source said the 2017 second-round pick believes it would be best for both parties if they parted ways. Story coming on ESPN shortly.
Josh Jones clearly sees where he stands with the Green Bay Packers after they signed Adrian Amos in free agency and drafted Darnell Savage Jr. 21st overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, thus his absence from OTA's and trade request. He understands the business and knows he's not going to see the field much behind those two, meaning his best chance for playing time would be in a different uniform.
It's not all that shocking Jones has requested a trade. Even before the Packers added Amos and Savage he wasn't receiving a lot of playing time. He's just never seemed to fit into what Green Bay was trying to do on the backend of their defense. It may be in the best interest of both parties to mutually part ways. This is where the Dallas Cowboys come in.
I believe Josh Jones is exactly the type of safety Kris Richard would like to pair Xavier Woods with on the backend of the Cowboys defense. He fits the criteria Richard likes in his defensive backs as far as size, length, and speed are concerned. And, he also has the kind of skill set/mindset to become that Kam Chancellor "enforcer" type of strong safety.
Josh Jones is at his best when he can play around the line of scrimmage, much like Chancellor was during his time with the Seahawks. But, Jones also has the ability to be a factor in coverage as well. The only real question here is whether or not he's an upgrade over the likes of Jeff Heath, George Iloka, and maybe even rookie Donovan Wilson?
In all honesty, I don't have the answer to that question. Josh Jones really hasn't received a fair opportunity to prove himself in his first two years in the NFL. I believe the skill set is there to start in the league, but there's not much there to back up that belief.
Personally, I'd be willing to part way with a late round pick if I were the Cowboys to acquire Josh Jones. I like the idea of bringing him in to work with Kris Richard and allowing him to compete for the starting job next to Xavier Woods. This is exactly the kind of low risk/high reward move Dallas likes to gamble on, and it could potentially pay off in a big way.
Where do you stand? Should the Cowboys consider trading for Josh Jones?
How Can The Cowboys Force More Turnovers In 2019?
2018 seemed like the beginning of a new era. A defensive era. For the first time in years the Cowboys were able to consistently lean on their defense during games, staying alive even as their offense sputtered and limped through stretches early in the season.
The defense was downright prolific some weeks. They carried the Cowboys to an inspiring home victory over the New Orleans Saints to put them in prime position to make the playoffs. They dominated the Wild Card game in key moments, making key stops and holding the Seahawks to just 22 points in the win. They featured one of the league's best individual pass rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence, an All Pro cornerback in Byron Jones, and one of the league's most exciting young linebacker duos.
For all of this success, this defense still lacked one thing. Takeaways.
The Cowboys forced only 9 interceptions in 2018, ranking 26th across the league. In fact, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was actually tied with Xavier Woods for the team lead in interceptions with just 2. When it comes to total takeaways the Cowboys' defense was a little better off, though, finishing 16th in the NFL.
Part of the "problem" seems to be their philosophy. The Cowboys have finished 26th, 24th, 27th, and 31st in interceptions dating back to 2015. They've also finished 9th, 25th, 18th, and 19th in team defense DVOA over that same stretch. Clearly there was an improvement in total defense in 2018, but neither their team defense nor ability to take the ball away has been strong since 2015.
The bigger problem, really, is a lack of luck. While this sounds like a cop-out, takeaways often do come down to just that. Of course putting yourself in the right place at the right time to benefit from a batted pass or overthrown ball matters, but those bounces finding the right hands is usually a matter of luck.
Turnovers are incredibly volatile year to year, and as much as you'd like your players to "make their own luck," randomness does play a part here.
You can certainly argue the Cowboys have done their best this offseason to increase their chances at takeaways, however. By trading for defensive end Robert Quinn, re-signing DeMarcus Lawrence, and adding talented players to the middle of their defensive line as well, Dallas has put an emphasis on getting after the quarterback and corralling the opposing running game. Putting pressure on quarterbacks can force them into quick decision making or bad throws, which could in turn breed interceptions.
This is far from guaranteed, though. Plus the Cowboys play against some of the league's top quarterbacks this year, which hurts their chances of taking the ball away further.
In the end the Cowboys will need both the skill of their pass rushers and defensive backs to put them in good positions, and luck to smile down on them, if they'd like to turn around their takeaway numbers in 2019. And after all, this demoralizing trend has to reverse itself at some point, doesn't it?
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