Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dr. Jerry's prescription

A few final thoughts on the Cowboys quarterback situation entering this weekend's game in St. Louis against the (formerly?) Sacrificial Rams.

This is not the high risk / high reward situation it's being made out to be.  Putting Tony Romo under center is instead a high risk / low reward opportunity for Dallas.  This is not Emmitt Smith playing with a separated shoulder versus the Giants in the final regular season game in '93 to give Dallas home field throughout the playoffs.  It's Week 7 for a 4-2 team.

If the Cowboys play Romo, he better be able to receive the ball from under center as well as properly execute hand offs, two things which apparently did not happen at practice this week.  I get the feeling that the Cowboys don't want to tip their hand as to who will start, but Jerry Jones makes that difficult for his head coach when he goes on the radio and says it's likely Romo will play.

Wade Phillips has already said he's differing to "Dr. Jerry" but he needs to realize that the future of his season depends on Romo's health. Just because Romo can play doesn't necessarily mean he should. While Brad Johnson has not played meaningful time since being a starter in Minnesota in 2006, the general consensus is he can more than handle starting for the Cowboys at the age of 40.

Cowboys fans were amenable to the idea of Johnson under center for the initial 3-game prognosis until Romo faced peer pressure from ironman Brett Favre. Thanks a ton, Brett. NOT! If it was so easy to have a 258-games started streak, Favre wouldn't be the only QB to accomplish that, so for Romo to continue his 32 games started streak seems not to be worth it.

Now for all the "ifs." Obviously winning cures everything.  If Romo plays and the Cowboys win and he does not worsen his injury, Cowboys fans should say a prayer and thank their lucky blue stars.  If Romo plays, he could potentially extend the healing time on his pinkie finger and really cost the team long term. If the Cowboys lose with Romo under center but his pinkie looks okay, it may at least show he's capable of leading this team with his injury despite the losing effort. However if Dallas loses - with either Romo or Johnson under center - the Cowboys will be 4-3 potentially two games back in a fierce division. More importantly, if they think they are facing tremendous pressure now after going 1-2 the last three weeks, drop a game to St. Louis and see what the reaction is.

Dallas cannot afford to lose this game. As cliche as it is, they absolutely must beat the teams they are supposed to beat. St. Louis has already proven they won't roll over and die under Jim Haslett, so they will make Dallas earn a victory on Sunday. Whoever is under center (my choice would be Johnson, but then again I was against installing Romo for Bledsoe in '06, so what do I know) will enjoy the newly acquire offensive weapon in Roy Williams (of Texas). If Romo dresses, he better start or be the emergency #3 QB. If he's not well enough to start, he shouldn't be playing at all.

Hopefully Wade Phillips makes that call on behalf of his team's future success. If Dr. Jerry is calling the shots, that's a prescription for trouble.

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