Precisely 352 days ago, things were looking up for the Dallas Cowboys. The quarterback of America's Team - Tony Romo - had marched his offense to yet another game winning drive, as the Cowboys began their path towards redemption in 2015 with a divisional win against the Giants.
Redemption may have fit well into the agenda of the Dallas Cowboys a year ago, but not for Father Time, who sets his schedule as purely as the days go by. He made his first appearance just seven days after the Dallas Cowboys' spirited 2015 opening win, as Tony Romo was knocked out on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles with a broken collarbone.
Time healed all wounds, but don't tell that to Cowboys Nation, who passed the time waiting for Romo's return by watching their team drop seven straight games with the likes of Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel "commanding" the offense.
All of the losing made Romo's return all the more refreshing, as the Cowboys were functional once again with their leader on the field in Miami during a win over the Dolphins. That is, until later in the week when Thanksgiving night and Father Time would spell the end of Tony Romo's 2015 season with a second collarbone break.
At the time, we didn't think about the long-term future for Romo and his football team.
In fact, it was almost slightly reassuring, knowing that the collective eyes of the team and its fans could turn towards 2016 - where the calendar would be flipped, talent would be added, and the revenge would finally come for the silver and blue.
Poetically, the 2016 season took a great turn 11 short days ago, as Romo made his debut against the Dolphins at home, and played in two series while going unscathed. The winning ways of the Cowboys were back, until they weren't.
Father Time came back to greet #9 with a scary back injury the following week in Seattle on just the third play of the game. For the second time in his last three games, Tony Romo was down on the field in a helpless amount of pain. As he has done countless times, Tony fought back to walk off the field on his own power, before being forced to sit out for the remainder of the action by his Head Coach Jason Garrett.
Romo even took a shot back at Father Time. His post game comments about feeling good about being able to survive a real hit like this allowed Cowboys Nation to begin their slow exhale - until our breaths were taken away completely all at once again.
Now it was time to talk about the end of an era. Now was the time for Romo to consider retirement. Now was the time for the Cowboys to plan for a future without one of their franchises' best ever quarterbacks and never look back. These were all things we heard after learning three days ago that Romo had broken his L1 vertebrae, and that his regular season return would not be happening anytime soon.
What we do know is that Romo's return will indeed happen. While it will be ignored by the masses, multiple doctors have assessed Romo's injury as one that should absolutely not force retirement.
Monday Morning MD: No medical reason for Tony Romo to retire https://t.co/qFUkzlDvG1 via @footballpost
Yet another significant injury setback is certainly not great for Romo at this stage in his career, but that is not to say that the veteran does not have some winning football - or "Romo magic" - left in him.
Playing 16 games in 2016 was always going to be a long shot for Tony Romo, and now that is already guaranteed to not happen. Instead, the Cowboys can wholeheartedly expect a fired up Romo to come back at some point in the season where the games will mean more, and the big wins need to be delivered.
I'm here to say that Romo still has those wins in him, at least through the end of this season. The Cowboys' offense is loaded with talent outside of Romo, enough to instill confidence in rookie Dak Prescott to handle the burden of being thrown into starting.
A big reason for Dak's success so far has been his teammates helping him out with some big plays. While it will be great to see more of that from Dak and his pass catchers in the regular season, imagine the spark that players like Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, and Ezekiel Elliott will play with once Romo is under center.
Nine wins was all it took to win the NFC East last year, and the division appears wide open once again. It is wide open for a Tony Romo amount of wins to bring a team to the playoffs in 2016, where anything is possible.
Tony Romo's story is winding to a close, but he will write his final chapters on the field where he belongs. The ultimate competitor that he is, Romo has some big things in store for us in 2016.
Until then, let's appreciate Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and the entirety of this Cowboys team - all of whom understand what Romo means to their chances at success.
We won't be able to say this at some point. That is an objective fact. Father Time will make sure of this. Until then though, Tony Romo is my quarterback - and your quarterback as well.
Our quarterback hasn't quit. Next man up.
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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