Because their starting quarterback has had more surgeries than career playoff victories, the Dallas Cowboys approach the 2016 season with an eye toward caution.
But not that much caution, because owner Jerry Jones, whose team is reportedly worth $4 billion, doesn’t want to spend a few extra thousand dollars to get Tony Romo the quality stand-in quarterback that the Cowboys deserve.
Instead, there was Owner Jones after Sunday’s scrimmage, floating the trial balloon that he was so impressed by his two seldom-used QBs, the Cowboys may already have Romo’s replacement in camp.
“We have seen enough and it makes sense,” Jones announced. “We don’t have to be — and shouldn’t be — as urgent as it might look like. We don’t know that we are void on campus with our backup quarterback at all.”
And he discerned this how, exactly, and when?
Jerry didn’t say, except to gush after an intrasquad scrimmage in which both of the young quarterbacks, Dak Prescott and Jameill Showers, showed a knack for moving the Cowboys’ offense against ... well ... the Cowboys’ defense.
Jones can’t really be serious, can he?
Because of a fractured collarbone, Romo played only four games last season — the Cowboys won three of the four.
He missed a dozen others — the Cowboys’ record in those was 1-11.
Late in the season, surveying the wreckage from the bottom of the NFC East, Jerry made a few gratuitous remarks about feeling bad for short-sheeting the team at the all-important fill-in quarterback position.
But it’s all been lip service. Jones was prepared to start the exhibition season with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s recommendation, Kellen Moore, as the backup QB.
Moore, however, received a bimalleolar ankle fracture last week and his entire season could be in jeopardy.
Don’t be so quick, though, Jones suggested, to anoint Moore’s successor.
Michael Vick? Josh McCown?
This is where I’m going to call Owner Jones’ bluff. Football is not rocket science, but it’s science enough that Showers and Prescott can’t expect to replicate the visual acumen that even a run-of-the-mill veteran NFL quarterback possesses. Whoever wins the No. 3 job, it should be a season devoted to development, not trying to salvage a playoff berth.
More likely is the notion that Jones doesn’t want to have to go to Craigslist for his next backup quarterback. He doesn’t want to appear desperate — though the franchise has every right to be — because it could make an unsigned quarterback hold Jerry’s checkbook hand to the flame.
The list is thin — Vick? Josh Freeman? Jimmy Clausen?
A better replacement stock can be found via trade.
“You just play this thing out and see what happens around the league,” Jones said, sounding a note of patience. “We should be able to take a real veteran who has enough NFL experience to come in here and catch on pretty quick.”
In any event, Jones repeated, he wanted Showers and Prescott to get a lot of repetitions, especially on days when Romo is taking a day of rest.
Coach Jason Garrett was asked Tuesday about the uncertainty at the backup quarterback position and answered, “We didn’t handle the adversity of the season well enough as an organization, as a coaching staff and as players on a football team. That goes far beyond just the quarterback position.”
Garrett is probably right. But it was hard not to notice last season when a replacement for Romo was quarterbacking Owner Jones’ team.
Jones can’t be serious about taking the frugal way out on this, not when so many winning pieces seem to be already in place.
I’m calling his bluff. Jerry will have a veteran backup QB by the time the Cowboys break camp next week.
They were 1-11 without Romo. That’s the only lesson Jones has to have learned.