Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys need a new backup plan besides Kellen Moore

Kellen Moore threw for 158 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions in his debut.
Kellen Moore threw for 158 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions in his debut. AP

The problem with 140 characters is that brevity doesn’t allow for enough time for common sense to prevail.

In the aftermath of Tony Romo’s second broken left collarbone of the season, many of those either mourning the Dallas Cowboys’ failed season or reveling in it took to Twitter to declare that Romo should retire.

He’s too old and too banged up, Twitter said, and, well, that argument has merit. But who in the history of sports has decided to retire because of a bum collarbone?

It’s not like it broke as Romo rolled over in bed or threw a football, but rather as the result of an already-compromised bone being thrown onto an artificial surface by a large man who then landed on it with all his weight.

The clavicle, which isn’t even on Romo’s throwing side, is going to be OK. Having the back of an octogenarian is an issue, and Romo is staring at a duel with Father Time, whom everyone knows is undefeated.

But the match hasn’t been made yet, which means that the Cowboys will have one of the better quarterbacks in the league taking snaps for them in 2016 at age 36 and the need for a better backup plan than they had to start this year, in the middle of it and for the final two games.

Everyone knows the backup is going to have to play next season. Surely the owner can afford or can uncover a better one than Sunday starter Kellen Moore, who will close out the season auditioning for a key 2016 roster spot.

It’s not fair to judge Moore strictly on his performance last weekend, when he was dropped into the action for the first time in his career and proceeded to throw three interceptions in a 19-16 loss to the New York Jets.

But it is fair to judge Moore on his inadequate arm strength and unimposing physical stature — as scouts and player-development types have done — and the fact that for three-plus seasons he hadn’t been good enough to take a single NFL snap.

Oh, Moore was a nice college player, helping guide Boise State to a 50-3 record in his four seasons in the Western Athletic Conference and the Mountain West. Two of those losses were to TCU, one of the few teams Moore faced that wasn’t supremely inferior to Boise State.

Moore piled up completions and yards at Boise State, but he didn’t win games as much as he didn’t do anything to lose them at a time when it would have been pretty hard for Boise State to lose to Idaho, New Mexico State and all those other WAC powers.

But this Romo-less season has become so bad that people are clamoring to see what Moore can do and if he can be part of the process in 2016 as the Cowboys try for the 21st time to win their next Super Bowl.

Coach Jason Garrett said that the Cowboys like Moore’s instincts and feel for the position. They like his accuracy, the three throws to the Jets’ defense notwithstanding, and aren’t terribly worried about his size and arm strength because he has been short-ish and a soft-tosser his whole life and learned how to play despite it.

It goes without saying that there are no guarantees the owner is going to get this one right in 2016. Maybe Romo’s backup will be Moore or a player like him, whose contract would be about as cheap as one of those off-brand TVs at the Walmart across the street from AT&T Stadium.

The prudent thing to do is use a high draft choice on a quarterback who could be the 2016 backup and the heir apparent to Romo. The Cowboys don’t necessarily have to use their hard-earned premium first-round pick, because the Cowboys shouldn’t ignore the other issues they have, but they aren’t going to find their man at the bottom of the draft or in the days after it.

They got lucky once doing that, with the undrafted Romo. Moore was shunned by the draft, too.

But the last two games of this miserable Cowboys season won’t turn Moore into Romo and shouldn’t turn him into Romo’s backup in 2016.

Jeff Wilson: 817-390-7697, @JeffWilson_FWST

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