Cowboys: The Future Is Now At Quarterback Position


The Dallas Cowboys entered 2015 feeling confident at the quarterback position, but they’ll certainly be thinking otherwise entering 2016 as tomorrow has arrived.

The last time the Dallas Cowboys were sitting where they are today concerning their franchise quarterback was December 10, 2000. The weather was cool and the skies clear when this storied franchise unknowingly stepped into tomorrow.

The Cowboys had just four wins on the season and would cruise to an easy victory, just their fifth on the year, over the Washington Redskins at Texas Stadium.

Midway through the first quarter, eventual Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman rolled to his right and fired an incomplete pass into the end zone just before before getting decked by Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington, one of the biggest hitters in the NFL at the time.

Nobody knew it then, but after leaving the field following that play, Aikman never again set foot into an NFL huddle, the Cowboys releasing the face of their franchise over the previous 11 years just a few months later.

More from Sports Dallas Fort-Worth

What followed was an odyssey of failed attempts to replace Aikman by a team void of either salary cap space or a first round pick in the 2001 NFL Draft – you know that Drew Brees could have very well been Dallas’ future quarterback if not for the Joey Galloway trade in the winter of 2000?

Well, here we are again, only this time it’s 15 years into the future, minus just a couple of weeks.

Since 2006, Tony Romo has been the face of the Dallas Cowboys franchise, the first quarterback to earn that distinction since Aikman. Romo has set records, won many games and established himself as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks over the last several seasons.

However, Romo has also suffered numerous injuries, which at this point includes back issues and broken bones above the waist. There’s also been an injured thumb, a punctured lung and the steady diet of hits to the head that go with the territory of the quarterback position at football’s highest level.

On Thanksgiving Day, Romo apparently re-injured the same collar bone that he broke during a Week 2 contest against the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this season.

According to ESPN’s Todd Archer, Romo is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season as a result of the most recent collar bone injury sustained against the Carolina Panthers on Thanksgiving Day.

The Cowboys are likely to finish the season with a record of somewhere between 3-13 and 5-11, both marks lower than anything seen in Dallas since 2002, the final year of the Dave Campo administration which saw 5-11 records in all three seasons.

Barring an incredible run by a backup quarterback unheard of since the days of Steve Beuerlein all the way back in 1991, the playoffs seem like a clear impossibility for the Cowboys in ’15. Instead, a top-10 draft choice in the 2016 NFL Draft next spring seems far more likely.

If that latter prediction comes true, it also means two selections within the top 40 picks, which is a clear invitation to finally grab a future franchise quarterback prospect to groom with a bit of urgency that might not have been expected just 32 months ago. That’s when Romo signed his most recent contract extension with the Cowboys, a move that was immediately followed by numerous back procedures and a few other injuries of relatively insignificant nature.

More from Dallas Cowboys

The seven-year contract runs through the 2019 season and it’s seems most unlikely that Romo will be around for that. In fact, I’m not positive at all that Romo finds his way back to the starting lineup as soon as next season.

It’s entirely possible that Romo recovers from his recent injuries over the offseason and makes it another year in Dallas as the starting quarterback. But given how things have gone for his body over the last three to four seasons, it would be ridiculous for the Cowboys not to act now in finding his replacement.

Just a month ago, Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin, a guru of Dallas-Ft.Worth sports, toyed with the idea that perhaps Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford might be in the cross hairs of the Dallas front office as soon as 2018.

As good of an idea as this may sound, I think the Cowboys have to act sooner – much sooner. If Romo was generally healthy and that young offensive line full of young Pro Bowl talent was getting the job done then I might suggest otherwise. But this is clearly not the case.

Just prior to the regular season, DMN columnist Tim Cowlishaw expanded upon the idea of Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins as a potential successor to Romo. Cowlishaw points out that RGIII’s brief, yet significant, injury history might not make a whole lot of sense to the Cowboys.

"As a rookie, Griffin threw 20 touchdown passes to go with five interceptions while leading Washington to the playoffs. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones admitted that it was going to be a challenge to face him twice year after year. In two seasons since, Griffin has missed 10 games with injury, thrown for 20 touchdowns with 18 interceptions and 11 fumbles. And, most importantly, he no longer strikes fear into opposing defenses as a running threat after so many injuries."

Yes, RGIII would probably be a bigger story than he would be a quarterback in Dallas, but he is still young and is also healthier right now than he’s been since entering the NFL as the second-overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. If RGIII arrived in Dallas for next season, he’d be the same age Romo was (26) when taking over for Drew Bledsoe during the final season for head coach Bill Parcells in 2006.

Please, forget the idea that Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel could be the answer, regardless of longtime DFW sports writer Skip Bayless of ESPN might think.

Next: Cowboys: Romo Awful And Injured Against Panthers

That leaves the draft, but given the way Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones approaches the quarterback position in this process, it’s a complete crap shoot when trying to project any of the nations top prospects to Dallas. This franchise simply doesn’t draft quarterbacks, which is more than ironic given the fact that Jones’ first ever selection as an NFL owner was actually Aikman back in 1989.

One thing is for sure: The time for quarterback change has come to Valley Ranch. Be it the NFL Draft or the free agent signing period just a few weeks following Super Bowl 50 in early February, the Cowboys need to have the future in place as though Romo is no longer the undisputed starting quarterback in Dallas.