There is plenty of debate swirling around quarterback Tony Romo and how the Cowboys should handle his latest injury. The recovery period for his fractured vertebrae has been given everything from 4-10 weeks.
The Cowboys have the option of putting Romo on Injured Reserve but then bringing him back after eight weeks. They could also just leave him on the 53-man roster, inactive on gamedays, and keeping the option to bring Romo back at whatever point he can go.
There are plenty of a factors to consider when determining how you want to handle Romo's status. Here is a summary:
If Dallas doesn't put Romo in IR then it will tie up a roster spot. It means one of your other positions won't be as deep, or that you may have to risk losing a talented young player from off your practice squad.
Consider one of their raw talents like running back Darius Jackson or tight end Rico Gathers. Dallas would probably like to keep both on the roster to avoid another team poaching them. But that roster spot occupied by a recovering Romo would likely cost one of them that protection.
As of the writing of this article, Dallas has yet to add any new quarterbacks. Right now they only have Dak Prescott and Jameil Showers active and able to play. They held a workout with free agent Austin Davis yesterday, but not deal has been made yet.
If Dallas wants to keep Romo off of IR then, early in the year, they may actually have to carry four quarterbacks! Prescott would start and then Davis or some other veteran would be added. However, they may then need to keep Showers on the roster while the veteran addition has time to learn the offense.
Personally, I have no problem with Showers being Dak's backup now and going forward. I think he's shown himself to be a capable player and his style of play would make for an easy transition if he had to come in for Prescott.
Last year, Dallas traded for a veteran backup QB who checked every single box. Matt Cassel was as good a backup option as you could ask for on paper, but we all saw how that turned out. It's hard to ask any player to just walk in and play without spending one training camp or preseason with a team.
Last year we saw what happened when Tony Romo tried to come back quickly from an injury. He lasted one-and-a-half games.
Of course, this is an entirely different injury to a different part of the body. One has nothing to do with the other. However, it's still a glaring reminder of what can happen if you try to rush things.
If Romo is placed on IR then he would miss at least seven games. He would be out for Week 1-6 and then be able to start practicing. Week 7 is Dallas bye, essentially giving the team a bonus game with Romo once he returns.
If they think Romo needs at least 8-10 weeks of recovery then there's no question that you put him on IR. It would be a waste of a roster spot otherwise.
The only question is how much everyone feels he can really come back closer to that 4-6 range. If he only has to miss a quarter of the season, or even less, then you probably want to leave you options open.
The Dak Factor
At this point everyone agrees on one thing; Dallas may have something really special in Dak Prescott. Maybe they want use this time to see just what the kid has.
A couple of games may not tell you everything. The aforementioned Austin Davis or a guy like Matt Flynn have all made millions off a few great games. But increased exposure reveals the truth.
Seven games is plenty of time to learn what Prescott is. You will know for sure if you need to keep scouting mid-round quarterbacks in the next few drafts or if you already have the future in place.
What's more, seven games is enough time for Prescott to potentially earn the starting QB job from this point forward. If Prescott is a rookie phenom and the team is winning with him, how do you justify bringing Romo back in? Seven games of evidence is enough to sell the majority of people that you're making the best decision for the franchise.
Obviously, none of us are rooting against Romo. But ultimately we root for the Cowboys and whatever's best for the team. Ask a Patriots fan if they lose any sleep over what happened with Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady.
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The decision to be made here is difficult. It has multiple layers; medical information, loyalty to players, team performance, and others.
What scares me is the idea that Romo will push to come back. That could be for his love of the game and desire to play, but also the fear of being the new Drew Bledsoe. Romo has already been quoted that he sees himself playing a few more years. We assume he wants those years to be in Dallas, and Prescott is now a threat to that goal.
Putting Romo on Injured Reserve would mitigate that risk. It would give him a full 10 weeks between the date of his injury and the earliest point that he could play again, with nine games still to go in the season.
What's more, if takes a huge monkey off the back of Dak Prescott and the coaches as they try to get through the games during his absence. It would eliminate the "when's Tony playing" question from everyone's minds, setting a firm timetable. As much as I believe in Prescott's ability to handle pressure, why pile on?
Granted, I don't know how realistic the possibility of Romo coming back by Week 3 or 4 truly is. If they think there's a legitimate potential then I guess I can't fault them for wanting to keep the option open.
However, if the 8-10 week recovery time is the more realistic timetable then I think the team's best decision is to put Tony Romo in Injured Reserve. Relieve some of the pressure off your rookie QB and force your veteran to put his health over all other concerns.
Clearly, it's not an easy choice.
Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off their most impressive win of the season, keeping playoff hopes alive on the road with a 27-20 victory at the Philadelphia Eagles. Entering the hostile home of the defending Super Bowl champions with three previous road losses already on their record, the Cowboys performance on Sunday night was truly about getting back to their roots. In their second week with Marc Colombo as the Offensive Line Coach, the Cowboys rushed for 171 yards and protected Dak Prescott very well. It was revealed after the game that Frederick was on a coaches headset with Colombo and his new assistant Hudson Houck.
Travis Frederick just told @BenRogers on @1053thefan that Marc Columbo has him on a coaches headset now helping him and Hudson Houck. That's a smart move from Columbo. Smartest guy on the line
The anchor of the Cowboys offensive line since being drafted in 2013, Frederick is regarded as the smartest linemen on the team. It's his mental edge that's made up for a slight lack of size at the position, regarded as one of the worst first round picks in his draft because of this oversight.
Not only is Frederick a welcome addition to the Cowboys brain trust at offensive line, but he did receive some great news on his battle with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) that's kept him out this season. Frederick was placed on injured reserve on October 6th, announcing publicly his GBS diagnosis on August 22nd.
Frederick has a long way to go before he's playing football again, not eligible to do so until week 14 at home against the Eagles. Regaining feeling in his hands is about the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee getting as healthy as possible away from football. If a return to the Cowboys is possible through his recovery, the team would of course welcome Frederick.
Travis Frederick regains sensation in his hands: "There is some light at the end of the tunnel" https://t.co/wvQhB6KUQp
What Frederick has gained in upper body strength, he must remain patient for in the lower body. While pointing out that over 95% of patients make a full recovery from GBS, Frederick is still waiting to feel sensations in his feet.
The Cowboys have been optimistic that Frederick's condition was caught early enough for a full recovery to be probable.
Dallas' schedule doesn't get any easier following their uplifting win. Returning to the site of last year's demoralizing loss at the Falcons, Frederick likely wishes he could make a miraculous return just a bit more this week.
To make matters worse, Left Tackle Tyron Smith did not practice on Wednesday due to back spasms. It's unknown if rookie Connor Williams will reclaim his starting left guard spot on Sunday, or if Xavier Su'a-Filo has earned another opportunity.
Despite the patchwork nature of a Cowboys offensive line once regarded as the best in the league, and still vital to the entire team's success, Dallas has an abundance of hope that Sunday in Atlanta can be much better than 2017. This starts with Frederick's strength to fight GBS and attempt to rejoin his teammates, wisely given some added game day influence on them by Colombo.
If elevating their level of play up front was all it took for the Cowboys to play up to their potential and pull off an upset on prime time last week, the NFC East is certainly still within reach for a team that must now sustain the level of play on offense to match what this defense has given all season.
Cowboys LB Named NFC Defensive Player of the Week Against Eagles
You already knew that Leighton Vander Esch, the Dallas Cowboys rookie linebacker, had a great night last Sunday in Philadelphia. Apparently the rest of the football world agreed, and now he's been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
The award is the first of what could be many for Leighton, who has emerged as a defensive leader for the Cowboys. He's been playing more in the absence of veteran Sean Lee, who has been battling hamstring issues all season.
THE. WOLF. HUNTER. Congratulations to #DallasCowboys rookie LB @VanderEsch38 on being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week! → https://t.co/XeSTt2tIpX
This is the second Player of the Week award for a Dallas Cowboys this season. Kicker Brett Maher won the Special Teams version in Week 4 after going 4-for-4 and hitting a game winner over the Detroit Lions.
The Defensive Player award hasn't gone to a Cowboys since Week of 2017, when DeMarcus Lawrence put up three sacks against the Arizona Cardinals.
Leighton's recognition is also well-earned. He led Dallas with 13 tackles and an interception in a pivotal road victory against a division rival. In what was arguably a "must-win" game for the Cowboys, their first-round pick stepped up and stood out.
A few more games like this, and Vander Esch could be in the running for the Defensive Rookie of the Year. But even above personal accolades, Leighton's play could help the Cowboys make a push in the NFC East.
If nothing else, he's making that first-round pick look smarter every week.
Legendary Cowboys Quarterback Backs Dak Prescott
Things have not gone well for Dak Prescott this season. His play has been up and down and he hasn't given the team or Cowboys Nation much reason to believe that he's the future at the quarterback position for the Dallas Cowboys. Speaking to 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas today, Legendary Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Ring of Honor and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Roger Staubach offered support for the Cowboys current quarterback, Dak Prescott.
Staubach had this to say when asked about Dak Prescott.
Roger Staubach on @1053thefan said #Dak is a part of the problem with the #Cowboys offense, but he is not the problem.
Roger Staubach didn't start in the NFL until the third year of his career and thinks that's a good time for the quarterback to make the jump. At this point, we are 40 games into Dak Prescott's NFL career and we can see some of the things that he's good at as well as some of the things that he struggles with.
As Staubach points out, Dak Prescott has the intangibles that you look for in a quarterback, even if his play hasn't been what you'd want at the position. Roger admits that Dak shoulders some of the blame for the offensive woes of the last 16 games, but realizes that there are many reasons for the Cowboys offensive failures this season.
Roger Staubach believes that the Dallas Cowboys can win with Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback despite some of the flaws that have crept up over the last 16 games. He's not wrong.
Staubach's pretty accurate in his assessment that there's been more good than bad. If you look at the first 24 games of Dak Prescott's career, he was really good. Through the last 16 games, he's struggled at times. So technically there's been more good than bad. The problem is that over the last 16 games, there's been more bad than good. The NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" league and lately Dak hasn't done much. We can debate all day on how much of the struggles Prescott's faced are on him, but everyone should be willing to admit that some of the struggles are on him.
It's plausible that the confidence in Prescott that Jerry Jones has comes from Roger's belief that the Cowboys can win games with Dak Prescott at quarterback; and they have. In Prescott's career, the Dallas Cowboys are 25-15. Though wins are a team stat and not a quarterback stat, it just goes as evidence that Dak Prescott can be a winning quarterback in the National Football League.
Dak has some flaws, but the offense and its play caller haven't helped Prescott much this season. We should be critical of Prescott because he has a big pay day coming, if you believe Jerry Jones. While Dak has some flaws, he also has some traits that can make him a good quarterback in the NFL with the right coaching situation behind him. 2018 may be running out of time for the Dallas Cowboys and their playoff prospects, but the Cowboys have time before they have to make a decision on Prescott.
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