Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Backup Quarterback Fears for the Dallas Cowboys


Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys would have caused the internet to explode had they drafted Johnny Manziel two weeks ago. Thankfully, that didn’t happen and the Cowboys showed that they are truly all in on Tony Romo after the big contract they gave him.

Personally, I love Romo and don’t irrationally hate him like the the rest of the country seems to. But, I do have a legitimate concern about the quarterback position for Dallas, particularly the backup spot.

Romo is 34-years old and coming off two back surgeries. I think Romo will look good next year, but now anytime Romo hits the ground our first thought will be “PLEASE DON’T LET HIS BACK HAVE GIVEN OUT!” We don’t know if Romo can stay healthy for a full 16 game NFL season, and for that reason the Cowboys need to have a reliable backup quarterback.

Kyle Orton‘s future remains in doubt, and my gut tells me that he’s not going to play this season. For that reason, I thought the Cowboys should have spent one of their late draft picks on a quarterback like Tajh Boyd, A.J. McCarron or Aaron Murray. They weren’t able to do that and the Cowboys will instead go into the season with Brandon Weeden, Caleb Hanie and undrafted free agent Dustin Vaughan behind Romo on quarterback. None of those scream reliable. In fact, looking at those names make me cringe.

Let’s start with Weeden, who was a first round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2012. He had a great career at Oklahoma State when he and Justin Blackmon created a lethal offensive duo, but was just awful as a Brown. It seems like the Cowboys see him as a developmental quarterback, and, if Orton decides he’s thrown his last pass, he’ll likely be the second string quarterback.

That pains me to just think about it. Someone that has thrown 23 touchdowns to 26 interceptions with a 55.9 career completion percentage is someone that I don’t trust to help win a game if Romo goes down. As far as Weeden being a guy the Cowboys want to develop, everyone seems to forget that he’s 30 years old. Romo is just four years older than Weeden and we are worrying about when the end of Romo’s career is going to be. A 30-year old, even if he’s only entering his third season, isn’t a developmental project.

Then there’s the 28-year old Hanie who has bounced around from Chicago to Denver to Cleveland and now to Dallas. He has a a career total of 679 passing yards and has thrown three touchdowns to 11 interceptions in his career. Let’s face it, if Caleb Hanie is in behind center at any point this season then the Cowboys are probably in a bit of trouble to say the least.

Who knows what the Cowboys have in Vaughan out of West Texas A&M. He seems to have talent by all accounts and perhaps could make the roster, but he’s still an unknown and there’s no guarantee he’ll even be a successful backup.

If this is what the Cowboys go into the season with at backup quarterback, then all of Cowboy Nation better be praying to the football gods that Tony Romo doesn’t go down with an injury or that his back issues don’t resurface. Perhaps the Cowboys can find another veteran to bring in at quarterback, or maybe Orton will end up coming back.

But if not, the backup quarterback spot remains a hole on this team, and hopefully it’s one that doesn’t rear its head.

Tags: Brandon Weeden Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones Tony Romo

  • SmartThinking

    As I said yesterday, it’s a mystery why someone in the Dallas organization hasn’t made contact with Orton to determine what his intentions are for this upcoming season. If they’re waiting for Orton to come to them, then that’s just plain stupid on their part, and quite careless for this team.

    Mandatory practices haven’t started yet. When they do, we’ll have our answer as fans.

    Perhaps Orton is remaining silent to demonstrate his importance to this team and to management. If so, he’s proven his point.

    I don’t wish to imagine a time if Romo goes down, that Weeden or Hanie comes in to relieve him, with their dismal numbers, and a. How bad it will be for this team and/ or b. How, once again, this entire organization will be ridiculed as a laughing stock for not fixing this situation when they had the chance during the draft or through free agency.

    • Old Frog

      From what I’ve read it seems the Cowboys think they fixed the situation with Weeden behind a better offensive line…certainly better than Cleveland’s. Hopefully Romo stays upright and they don’t have to test it empirically.

      • SmartThinking

        I’m not particularly a Romo fan. Sure, he puts up big numbers but this league is about championships, not also rans. As it stands at this hour, though, I’m praying Romo’s iffy back issues are behind him (no pun intended) because if this team has to rely on Weeden to save the day, should Romo go down, websites like this one are gonna be lit up by angry fans every Monday following another Cowboys’ Sunday loss.

        Somebody please give Orton what he wants and motivate him to back up Romo until a competent #2 QB can be acquired or drafted.

        IMO, better O line or not, Weeden simply can’t cut it.

  • SK_Jersey13

    Pretty much nobody agrees with me, but I remain adamant that Brandon Weeden is a descent QB. I really feel that his woes in Cleveland are owed more so to the cast around him than to just him. Not saying he’s great or that he wasn’t responsible for most of his mistakes – just saying that he’s more talented than people give him credit for. With our offensive line and receivers, I’m pretty confident in him as a backup QB. Also, despite small hands, Vaughan has a cannon – he’d be a pretty interesting developmental project if he makes the roster

  • Dave

    I really wish Dallas would have made some kind of roster move to keep Alex Tanney when Cleveland claimed him off the practice squad last year. I thought he showed some real potential in the pre-season, and with another off season and preseason I think he could have competed for the backup job outright even if Orton was in camp. I actually liked Weeden coming out of college and felt he probably would have been a top 10 pick if not for his age, but I just haven’t seen anything from him in the NFL. Say what you want about Cleveland, but Brian Hoyer looked good playing with the same players Weeden was, so you can’t write it all off to being on a bad team.

  • V. C. Evans Sr.

    What would it hurt???? Take a look at Vince Young…..
    There are a lot worse QBs on NFL rosters that has never had the success Vince Young has had …(NFL Rookie of the Year, 2 Pro Bowls, Playoff experience and Mobility). Vince has a career winning record of 31-19…
    He can help this team…even if it’s just upgrading the quarterback pool…