It’s been a weekend, one that started back on Thursday, of giving thanks that college football finally arrived (hello, Kenny Hill), rescuing our summer of jock kingdom misery and rescuing us from the Titanic that has become the Texas Rangers.
Next up on the local agenda, a mere one week away, will be the city of Arlington opening its arms to another Cowboys season. Anything in Arlington will be better than watching the Rangers, right?
Well, maybe, but probably not.
Expectations for the Cowboys are hovering around at least a decade low. You have to go back to the turn of the century to find expectations at these depths.
We all know the “worry list” is obviously lengthy, including every area of the defensive unit.
But with the San Francisco 49ers, speaking of a good defensive group, here next Sunday to kick off the regular season, let’s concentrate on what should be the No. 1 immediate oh-no moment.
Tony looks blah. He’s not right. Not close to right. Then, again, it’s been August football.
Good quarterbacks who look awful in brief August cameo roles for exhibition football don’t necessarily have to be a concern. And the NFC East is currently a division overrun with QB concerns, based on a ragged August by RG3 in Washington and Eli in New York.
With Romo, however, the back-surgery issues leave that lingering doubt of Tony ever being Tony again.
The head coach says Tony is healthy. I don’t think he’s lying. Others at Valley Ranch also say Tony is healthy.
But Jason Garrett has been extremely cautious with Romo this month.
Tony has been a healthy scratch in practice almost as much as he’s actually practiced.
But what we saw from Romo over the last few weeks, particularly in the third exhibition game in Miami, were clear examples that Romo is not right.
No one will disagree with that. There is one theory that it may be two or three games into the regular season before Romo is right again, provided he remains standing.
In playing the first half against the Dolphins a week ago, he had no timing, no rhythm and no continuity with receivers. He looked like a quarterback who had missed a lot of practice.
Of course, the missed practices were the August plan with Romo.
For a guy who didn’t have serious football activity in the spring, then in the early summer, and then was held out of multiple practice sessions in August, when does Romo become a full-time quarterback again?
The answer is: Yesterday. Well, I assume it was Saturday.
But the timeline says the Cowboys wrapped up the exhibition season Thursday night, and, wisely, Romo did not play, even if he needed the work. The final fake football game of August is no time to take chances.
The players were off on Friday, and started back to work Saturday.
So leading into the 49ers, Romo had Saturday and Sunday, then will have Monday (presuming Tuesday is the players’ off-day this week) plus Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for full practice activity.
With the final roster cuts, he will also be working strictly with his main receivers for six days of practice leading up to the 49ers’ visit.
All of this is being said with the assumption Romo will be given no more practices off. If he does miss a practice session leading up to the 49ers game, then, yes, be concerned.
Is six days of practice enough for Romo to get right if he’s going to be right? No. But it’d be a major step forward.
One excuse, valid or not, on why Romo looked lost in the Miami game had to do with the play of the offensive line. It was bad. And this is supposed to be a team strength.
Then again, the Cowboys’ excuse is, while their offense had a plain approach, the Dolphins’ defense “game-planned” for Romo and the offense. Miami went regular-season exotic, or at least that’s the excuse, which may be valid.
Excuse time, however, is officially over.
With Romo, the first thing he needs to show — if healthy, there’s no reason he won’t show it — is accuracy on his deep throws. In the second half of last season, he became almost pathetic throwing the deep ball, which in the past had been a Tony strength.
Those who watched daily practices in Oxnard say Romo was spotty at best with his deep throws.
Medically speaking, Tony’s back issues last season would have factored into suddenly losing the ability to deliver a deep ball. If now healthy, his practice-session inconsistency in Oxnard can be labeled as rust.
In his extended playing time against Miami a week ago, deep balls were not part of the game plan, or he didn’t have time to get one off.
Regardless, we are going into September, and the real games, knowing that Romo has not been right.
Despite a multitude of concerns, No. 1 on the Cowboys’ lengthy list is just that. It’s Tony.
If he’s not right, nothing will be right.
Leave a message for Randy Galloway at 817-390-7697.