Dallas Cowboys: Is The Tony Romo Era Effectively Over?


For the Dallas Cowboys, news of another injury and extended absence for Tony Romo may signal the end of the quarterback’s run in Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys tried to soothe everyone’s fears in the immediate aftermath of last Thursday’s 27-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. On the Cowboys’ third offensive play, pass protection broke down, causing quarterback Tony Romo to tuck the ball and run to his left. As he dropped into his slide trying to avoid a hard hit, Seattle defender Cliff Avril tackled Romo in an attempt to swat the ball loose.

Romo hit the ground awkwardly and immediately clutched his back. He was writhing in pain by the time trainers arrived to tend to him. From a fan perspective, the nightmare scenario was playing out. It did not look good despite Romo being able to walk off the field under his own power–eventually.

As if on cue, speculation and spin began. There you saw Romo, helmet on, taking practice throws on the sideline. Sideline reporters stated Romo was pleading his case to go back onto the field. The same reporters then stated Romo would not return simply as a precaution.

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Even after the game, from the owner on down, the Dallas Cowboys were in lockstep in downplaying the severity of Romo’s injury. The only person who seemed to see through it all was The Ticket’s Bob Sturm, who wrote on Friday that he felt not all was right with Romo. So maybe it should have come as little surprise when news came down on Saturday of a 6-10 week shutdown.

This injury will only force the organization to address the elephant in the room. The time frame of any potential return would vary between October 9th to November 6th. If it pushes to November, the season will be halfway over before Romo takes his first snap from scrimmage. That doesn’t even take into account the state of the team at the time he’s ready to return.

To be sure, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has looked impressive in the preseason. He has shown poise and a high football IQ. The team appears better off at the backup quarterback position than they have in years. The counter argument, of course, is that defenses have been playing vanilla schemes against Prescott. Wait until they start throwing exotic blitzes and coverages at him.

But what if Dak guides this team to break-even, or even has them sitting at 5-3 when Romo is ready to return? Do the Cowboys instantly insert Tony Romo into the starting lineup when he’s given a clean bill of health? Given his lengthy injury history, do they take that chance knowing they have Dak Prescott with a half-year of NFL seasoning in their back pocket?

It is an odd problem to have. On one hand, you have a quarterback who is third all time in career passer rating. That’s right. For all the armchair hating and guffawing at perceived choke jobs, if your name isn’t Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson, Tony’s got everyone else in that category beat. Oh yeah, he’s also fifth among active quarterbacks in fourth quarter comebacks.

On the other hand, the Cowboys finally seem to have “it” in regards to their plans after Romo is gone. The sad part is that Romo’s eventual departure seems like much more of an inevitability now than it was at this time last week. Time will tell, but it’s very easy to knee jerk when bad news comes down before the season even starts.

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The problem is, it isn’t supposed to end this way. In a career that even Hollywood couldn’t have scripted, a meek exit should’ve never been the coda for a mostly spectacular voyage. When Tony Romo was good, he was extraordinary. It’s just a shame that his body has betrayed him at a time when the Dallas Cowboys appear ready to take the next step.