Five thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys, who are 5-1:
Dak not limited
1. When talk comes to the impending quarterback decision, those suggesting the team return to the injured Tony Romo over rookie Dak Prescott often point to how much more efficient the offense would be with the veteran. But Prescott is the fifth-ranked passer in the league with a 7-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The offense tops the NFL in time of possession, ranks third in total yards and third down conversions and is seventh in points and red zone scoring percentage — all for a team that has the second-best record in the league and a five-game winning streak. The thought process is Romo is the better passer and a better decision maker because of his experience and would help create more big plays down the field. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson said there is nothing limited about the offense with Prescott compared to what they would do with Romo.
Romo cap impact
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There is not only a lot of talk about what to do about Romo this year, but also next year. If he doesn’t start this year and the Cowboys stick with Prescott, then there is no way the Cowboys are going back to Romo next year. So do you trade him or release him and how does that impact his contract? Romo counts $24.7 million against next year’s salary cap. That’s a lot for a backup quarterback, but not unreasonable considering Prescott is getting the minimum. If Romo is not with the Cowboys next year, it would free up $5.7 million in cap room from his base salary. But he would still count roughly $19.6 against the cap. If he is traded, that money counts immediately. If he is cut and signs with another team that money counts immediately. He could be deemed a June 1 cut, allowing the Cowboys to divide that money over the next two seasons. But that would mean his cap number of $24.7 million will be on the books until June 1, making it tough for the Cowboys to make any moves in free agency.
There is little chance this young team is going to start reading their press clippings and eating the proverbial cheese following their hot start to the season. Not with veteran tight end Jason Witten in the locker room. Witten has seen his share of disappointments. He has seen a lot of teams start fast only to fade later in the season. He is making a point to keep the Cowboys focused. “This team will never be too confident,” Witten said. “We know how we have to play. We know we have to continue to execute and continue to get better. It’s our job as leaders to let people know and keep the pedal down.”
If it appears that defensive tackle Cedric Thornton is playing more and making more plays the past few weeks than he did earlier in the season it’s because he is. Thornton played 31 plays against Cincinnati and 30 against Green Bay in the past two games after recording 18 plays at San Francisco three games ago. Thornton is more comfortable with his role and the transition from the 2-gap scheme in Philadelphia last year to the 1-gap concept in Dallas. Thornton is playing nose tackle as well as the 3-technique tackle spot in Dallas after initially signing to replace Nick Hayden at nose tackle. Terrell McClain has come on so well at nose tackle that Thornton has had to adjust.
Running back Lance Dunbar is back at practice after missing the past two games with tendinitis in his right knee. It might spark a return of the touchdown celebration known as the knee dance. When Dunbar scored against Chicago a few weeks ago, all the running backs and position coach Gary Brown bent over and rolled their knees in a circular motion. It was nod and a jab to Dunbar’s knee issues and the things he has to do to warm up to get ready for practices and games. They were doing it on the sideline, so Dunbar did it in the end zone. “Everybody always messes with me about my knees,” Dunbar said. “They call me an old man. That’s how I warm up my knees. I used to just go out there and go run. I need about 30 minutes before practice.”
Cowboys vs. Eagles
7:30 p.m. Sunday, KXAS/5