Gil LeBreton

With Cowboys drafting 4th, Jerry Jones doesn’t need to roll dice

At 36, the odds are against quarterback Tony Romo playing 16 games next season.
At 36, the odds are against quarterback Tony Romo playing 16 games next season. Star-Telegram

Maybe it was the golf.

Tony Romo always liked the golf.

And golfers, with their torque-heavy backswings, sometimes develop back problems.

Which isn’t to say that that’s why the Dallas Cowboys quarterback started having back issues. Or why the Cowboys, despite playing in the worst division in pro football, finished 4-12.

But things tend to trickle down. The autopsy on the Cowboys’ 2015 season likely will conclude that Romo fracturing his collarbone twice had a ripple effect on the team’s once-promising Super Bowl chances.

No Romo, no dice, as it turned out.

It was a lesson that owner Jerry Jones refused to acknowledge, until it was too late and the Romo-less Cowboys had lost seven in a row.

He shouldn’t have to be reminded any more. Romo, his back and his collarbone will all be 36 years old next season.

Owner Jones hasn’t been able to buy his way back to the Super Bowl. But it’s time that he secures some Tony Romo insurance.

The Johnny Manziel bandwagon is forming, and you can hear the drums and the bass guitar from here. Jones likes him. Aggies love him.

Scouts hate him.

Do the Cowboys really want a backup quarterback that half the fandom is going to be clamoring to see play? Worse, do they want TMZ cameras following Cowboy Johnny around town?

As Daryl Johnston told the TMZ website last week, Manziel is “still making some poor choices out there.”

If Johnny Football, as rumored, did skip out on his scheduled post-concussion appointment with the Cleveland Browns medical staff to fly to Las Vegas to party in disguise, Moose is right — Manziel is afflicted with football affluenza.

He hasn’t handled being an NFL backup, and yet that would be his precise job description with the Cowboys.

A No. 2 quarterback has to maintain a certain state of readiness, which isn’t often a Vegas amenity. He needs to be a student of the game and learn the offense, not just read the pictures.

What he’s shown in Cleveland, though, is a lot like the Manziel that some scouts predicted. Too cute, too quick to dash from the pocket and try to make plays with his feet.

Does he fit into the Romo-friendly Cowboys offense? No, but his freestyle instincts probably didn’t fit well with Kevin Sumlin’s A&M playbook, either.

The difference in Cleveland, Manziel has shown, is that instead of having a slower, college-sized linebacker spying on him and chasing him when he leaves the pocket, bigger, quicker NFL linebackers and defensive ends are hunting him down.

Maybe he will learn. Maybe Manziel could learn how to read defenses and make his progressions under coaches Scott Linehan and Wade Wilson. Manziel, after all, just turned 23.

He’s a kid, doing stupid kid things. But can Owner Jones take the chance that Manziel, back home in Texas, will suddenly decide to grow up?

Similar concerns about mastering the playbook and being able to scan NFL secondaries are what make Washington’s Robert Griffin III a risky alternative as well. NFL scouts criticize RGIII’s lack of vision and feel for the pass rush.

Griffin’s advantage over Manziel is that he has done it in the NFL, at least once, in his rookie 2012 season. But can he perform within the structure of Linehan’s playbook?

Blessed and burdened with the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft, Owner Jones doesn’t need to roll any dice. His decision on a young quarterback could impact the franchise for the next 10 years.

Jared Goff of Cal, Paxton Lynch of Memphis, Connor Cook from Michigan State? Your guess is as good as mine.

The odds are, however, that Tony Romo won’t play 16 games next season. Once burned, Jones should know better next time around.

Unless the bandwagon seduces him.

Gil LeBreton: 817-390-7697,, @gilebreton

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