PHILADELPHIA - The Cowboys have another win ... but another loss, too, with Tony Romo's broken collarbone shelving him alongside Dez Bryant. We take you inside the game, the injury ... and what's next.
The Cowboys keep winning wars. But they keep losing warriors.
Dallas recorded a 20-10 victory on Sunday over the Eagles to take an early but seemingly firm hold on the NFC East. Except this is a white-knuckler now, because MVP candidate Tony Romo is lost to the team with a broken left collarbone.
“It never feels good whenever you get hurt,” said Romo, who joins sidelined teammate Dez Bryant, who was lost in a Week 1 victory over the Giants.
Sources indicate to me that Dallas is prepared to be without Romo for as long as eight weeks, pending more tests on Monday to supplement the X-rays taken Sunday that clearly show a fracture to the same area that was broken in 2010.
All of this caused Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to feel a bit sorry for himself even though Dallas is surviving these monumental losses thanks to an almost impenetrable defense.
How low did Jerry feel when in the third quarter Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks sacked Romo and drove his shoulder into the turf, causing the QB to almost immediately proclaim to medical personnel, “It’s broken’’?
“As low,’’ Jerry said in the postgame locker room, “as a crippled cricket’s ass.’'
But note: The Vine creator's supposition on Romo's future doesn't match at all what the Cowboys are telling me.
Let's systematically march through the issues here:
Romo's clavicle, medically speaking:
The Romo injury occurred to his non-throwing shoulder when he was taken down by the Eagles. The weight of linebacker Hicks compounded the fall, sending a high amount of force through Romo’s body and, as our medical expert Jeff Stotts writes, it "created the perfect mechanism of injury for a collarbone injury.''
The clavicle is one of the most frequently fractured bones in the body due to its poor protection. It plays a crucial role in two of the four articulations that make up the shoulder complex. The sternoclavicular (SC) joint is the only connection between the arm and the trunk of the body and is located where the clavicle joins the manubrium of the sternum (breastbone). The collarbone continues along the shoulder until it meets the acromion of the scapula (shoulder blade), forming the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. Here the collarbone serves as a strut for the shoulder, creating a pivot point that allows for a high degree of motion.If Romo’s injury is an isolated fracture then the nature of the break comes into play. If the bone did not shift and remains non-displaced, the four-time Pro-Bowler could avoid surgery and would simply need to let the bone heal. If a significant displacement has occurred, surgical hardware would likely be inserted to stabilize the bone and insure proper healing. Location of the break is also key. Injuries to either the SC or AC joint can complicate a collarbone fracture and delay Romo’s return. However if the injury is to the middle third of the bone, it will set up Romo for a smoother recovery, regardless of surgical intervention.
Predicting a return to action is a bit difficult without knowing what treatment options the Cowboys will utilize but let’s look at what history and other data suggests about the injury.
To start, this marks the second time Romo has broken this collarbone. During Week 7 of the 2010 season, Romo broke his left collarbone in a similar fashion. He was struck by Giants linebacker Michael Boley and his left shoulder was forced into the turf in the process. Romo would miss the team’s final 10 games. However the team’s poor overall record likely influenced Dallas’ decision to place him on the IR. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed seven games during the 2013 season after breaking his non-throwing shoulder just like Romo. He did not need surgery for the fracture. Last season former Philadelphia Eagles and current St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles missed the team’s final eight games with a collarbone fracture of his own. The Cowboys can even look to an in-house comparison as Hall-of-Fame quarterback Troy Aikman missed five games of the 1998 season with a fractured left collarbone.
While the demands of the quarterback position are different, expanding the analysis to include players outside quarterbacks does, interestingly enough, offer some hope for Cowboys fan. Saints receiver Marques Colston missed just two weeks after breaking his collarbone and having it surgically repaired. Running back Ryan Mathews was back in action in just under seven weeks following his right clavicle injury and surgery in 2012.
Furthermore, a 2010 study of NFL players examined 19 mid-third collarbone fractures that were treated both nonoperatively and surgically. The average time of healing for non-surgical breaks was 7.3 weeks while those treated surgically needed an extra 1.5 weeks to heal.
Monday will be key for the Cowboys as they ultimately decide on what treatment option to utilize with their franchise quarterback. Stotts writes: "Considering the team proactively decided to utilize a bone graft in Bryant’s fractured foot, don’t be surprised if Romo goes under the knife as well. Surgery would improve stability and insure the pieces of bone properly fuse together.''
Assume that to be a consideration. Again, CHQ will be at Valley Ranch on Monday to learn more about Romo's options. In the meantime ...
What are Dallas' options at QB?
Sorry, but there are no magical solutions here.
The pick-me-up at QB is likely going to have to be Brandon Weeden, who was, even his detractors will admit, terrific here in making the different in Dallas’ 10th straight road victory. The journeyman went 7 for 7 for 73 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown to Terrance Williams in the late going.
“We have a lot of weapons, a lot of good weapons,’’ Weeden said, "so my job is to make it easy on those guys, let them do their jobs, get them those one-on-one matchups, and let them do what they do best.”
I've already been told the team is comfortable with the idea of Weeden as the Temp No. 1. So we should probably shelve the Brett Farvesque foolishness. Now, who might be the new No. 2 is a more intriguing question. I'm presently under the impression that Dallas thinks spending a resource to acquire another journeyman who would likely struggle in picking up the offense quickly enough to really help is not viable. What coach Jason Garrett and right-hand Scott Linehan need to decide - and fast - is whether practice-squadders Kellen Moore and Jameill Showers are viable.
Moore has been here less that a month, and while he is not physically imposing, he's a brain, an ideal scout-team tool. ... and while he's not actually played in an NFL game, he's been around for three years with Detroit. That's likely the way Dallas would lean, ahead of the UDFA Showers, who is still working to establish that he's good enough to be a "project.''
“I’m confident of that,” Jerry said of the overall quality of this team and its ability to play well around Weeden. “You say, ‘Well, equipped to win as easy as having Romo at quarterback?’ Of course not. No. No. We’re a different team. But we’re a team that can win football games in the NFL without Romo.”
Where Weeden really gets help
Weeden is certainly capable of being a “bus driver’’ but will benefit from an offense that plays sharper than it did here in Philly. Dallas was plagued by penalties (though not as plagued as the 0-2 Eagles, who were booed out of their own building) and was rescued by a punt blocked for a touchdown and coordinator Rod Marinelli’s defense.
Sometime during Weeden's time at the wheel this defense will add Randy Gregory, Rolando McClain and Greg Hardy. (And the offense will get back Ron Leary and hopefully have a healthy Jason Witten, who battled through this game with issues with one knee and two ankles). With all those guys fueling the bus? Maybe all Weeden has to do is keep it out of the ditch.
Immediately? Dallas embarrassed former Cowboy runner DeMarco Murray, limiting the big-money Eagle to 13 carries for an abysmal 2 yards. Linebacker Sean Lee was Philly’s main tormentor, finishing with a team-high 14 tackles with two tackles for loss and an interception.
The Cowboys have now won seven of their last nine games at Philly.
“We just like Eagles meat,” defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey joked. “That’s all it is. Nothing wrong with a little bird on the table, a Philly cheese bird.”
More “bird’’ is next, as COO Stephen Jones pointed out.
“Not having Tony is a big deal,” he said. “I don’t want to underplay that. But I do like our team. Just gather the troops and suit up. We’ve got the Falcons next.”
The “troops’’ will not include this team’s least expendable talents in Dez and Romo. The "Victory Formation,'' if it's run again anytime soon, will be run by Weeden. And in a week, another football war needs to be won … even without the two warriors.
"The job for our football team is to find ways to win,'' said Romo while positioned just outside the locker room. "I think we have guys in there that can do that."