Each Sunday I provide 10 quick hits on the Dallas Cowboys. I tell you why I would tell Tony Romo to retire. Now that Dak Prescott is the starting quarterback, here is some precedent for a rookie QB leading a team to the playoffs. Plus, Zeke’s misadventures in Seattle highlight this edition of First and 10.
1. If I were close to Tony Romo, and he were to ask for my advice about his future, I would tell him to retire. Look, this isn't about his head or his heart. We all know what that's made of. This is about his back and about his quality of life after football, and I would urge him to take the time this injury affords him to strongly consider it.
This is the fourth time Romo has had to deal with a injury to his back in the past four years — surgery to remove a cyst, surgery on a ruptured disc, playing through two transverse process fractures and now a broken L1 vertebra fracture. Now, we're all playing armchair doctor here, but here's a tweet from an actual doctor, though not one in the room with Romo and team doctors:
So the prognosis is good, but you know what? We've said that about Romo before.
I've been around athletes for 20 years at every level, which means I've been around team doctors, trainers and surgeons for 20 years. When it comes to injuries the general theme is this — everything is cumulative when it comes to the human body. Once a player suffers an injury to a particular part of the body and surgery is involved, there is always a higher risk of re-injury, whether its re-injuring the same area or injury to that general area. You hurt your knee, there's a better chance you'll hurt it again. You sprain your ankle, there's a better chance you'll sprain it again. You pull your hamstring ... you get the idea. Exhibit A? Miles Austin.
This injury is treatable and recoverable. Romo just needs to rest and let it heal. That's good news for several weeks from now, but it may not be good news long term. Our Jordan Ross made this point about the hit that Romo took from Cliff Avril Thursday night:
It's a good point to make, but I'll build on that. That will not be the hardest hit Romo will take this season, nor will it be the last hit he will take to his back this season. In other words, the cumulative effect of his back injuries the past few years makes it more likely he'll hurt his back again. He's not brittle or fragile, as some might suggest. The guy played through a collapsed lung, for crying out loud. He's just more likely to get hurt when you consider his age (36) and the multiple injuries to his back. It's that simple. He can't hide from that and neither can the Cowboys.
He also can't hide from his post-football future. He has a wife now. He has two children now. I imagine that Romo envisions a future where he can play with his kids, enjoy his retirement with his wife and do the kinds of things he'd like to do — play golf, be a TV commentator, be an assistant coach — whatever that might be. The longer he plays the more he invites hits that, potentially, could diminish his physical capacity post-retirement including, heaven forbid, paralysis. That's a stark assertion, I know. But we've seen football players paralyzed playing this game. And we've seen them paralyzed taking less violent hits than the one Romo took Thursday night.
No, retirement is not what he wants. It would not leave the legacy that Romo desires. But legacy is little consolation if, in 10 years, you can't enjoy your life to the fullest.
So that's what I would tell him. That's my rationale. Agree? Disagree. Hit me up on Twitter @PostinsPostcard and let me know what you think.
2. Dak Prescott is your new starting quarterback in the wake of Tony Romo's broken back. Well now we're really going to find out what the kid can do when the Cowboys open the season Sept. 11 against the New York Giants in prime time. So, no pressure, you know? Prescott has admittedly been impressive the past three weeks. But I’ve made the point the past few weeks, as have others, that preseason football is not analogous to regular-season football. And I've written all along the Cowboys need a veteran backup, and that need is magnified now with Romo's injury. So, as a public service...
But if you don’t buy the argument that the Cowboys need a vet because of Prescott, consider this. You're living the nightmare scenario right now. Romo might miss half the season. You think Jameill Showers is ready to be the No. 2? C’mon. Be realistic.
If you believe the high end of Romo's recovery time, he could miss half the season. Could Prescott do enough to keep the Cowboys in the playoff race, or even get them to the playoffs, as a rookie? It would not be unprecedented. The list of rookie quarterbacks who started at least half of that season’s games and led their teams to the playoffs numbers about a dozen. In fact it contains plenty of players you’ve heard of — John Elway, Andrew Luck, Dan Marino, Ben Roethlisberger, Bernie Kosar, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson and Joe Flacco among them (hat tip to the Seattle Times for the research).
But a Super Bowl? No, never. A rookie quarterback has never done that.
So now we wait and see what Prescott can do. It looks like he'll be the first rookie quarterback of the 2016 draft class to start a regular-season game.
3. I came away from the “dress rehearsal game” feeling the Dallas Cowboys, overall, have a pretty solid team (that was pre-Romo injury, of course). But this defensive line could screw everything up.
Let’s update the numbers, which I pointed out recently. The Cowboys have five sacks, with just one coming from a defensive end or tackle that should make the team — Tyrone Crawford. The only sack Thursday night against Seattle came from Lawrence Okoye. The Cowboys’ leading sack artist this preseason, Shaneil Jenkins, didn’t play Thursday night. More disturbing was the amount of time that Seattle’s Russell Wilson had to throw the football, along with the ends’ inability to hold the edge and contain him, despite good pressure up the middle from the Cowboys’ tackles. Tyrone Crawford, Terrell McClain and Cedric Thornton could have great seasons inside. But if the ends can’t contain the quarterback then that probably won’t matter.
The Cowboys chose to go down a cheap path with the D-line this offseason and, right now, it looks somewhat foolish. DeMarcus Lawrence is suspended. Randy Gregory is in rehab. Charles Tapper is still hurt. Maliek Collins just got back but he needs time to get in the mix. Players who ordinarily wouldn’t make this team may just make it for those reasons, and that probably won’t be a good thing.
If there is good news, it’s this — in about two weeks dozens of defensive ends are going to hit the free-agent market, giving the Cowboys a chance to upgrade, hopefully. Should the Cowboys be interested in anything? More like everything.
4. StarCast is CowboysHQ.com’s new weekly podcast. In this edition of Cowboys StarCast with Jamie Horton and Mike Fisher they previewed the Seattle preseason game and tried to tap the breaks on the anointing of Dak Prescott. They also discussed the defense’s potential staying power, the strength of the Cowboys’ wide receiving corps and the debut of Ezekiel Elliott.
Check out StarCast today.
5. You were impressed by what you saw on Thursday night from Ezekiel Elliott? Sure you were. We all were. What I saw was a back who can handle contact, invites contact, doesn’t mind mixing it up (just ask Kam Chancellor) and can gash defenses for chunks of yardage. It was exactly what most of us were hoping for. And this came against a Seattle defense that has been one of the best against the run the past few years and a defense that played most of its starters during the first quarter.
Just give this run a look and tell me you wouldn’t want to see that 25 times a game?
So earlier this week I published a piece on “Peak Zeke.” The idea was to examine the best rushing seasons in Cowboys history, find commonalities and determine what Elliott’s production and workload needed to be in 2016. You can read the article here. I think it’s interesting. Of course, I’m biased. I wrote it.
And by the way, I know what you’re thinking. I’m impressed with Elliott and Prescott but I’m far more comfortable with Elliott starting at running back but not Prescott at quarterback? Well, Elliott doesn’t have to throw the ball 30 times a game. That’s why.
Meanwhile, Ezekiel Elliott wiles away the hours before Thursday’s preseason game by visiting a pot store. Elliott didn’t purchase anything but he clearly didn’t give the Cowboys PR staff a heads-up. Jerry Jones didn’t like the look either.
Assuming the apology is sincere ... The best thing to come out of this story? The name of the store Elliott walked into — Herban Legends. Awesome.
6. Speaking of Cowboys and drugs, well, there’s Quincy Carter. Carter was arrested earlier this week in Corpus Christi on outstanding warrants for DWI and marijuana possession. If the Cowboys need a cautionary tale for any reason, distribute this story.
7. Sports Illustrated has the Cowboys winning the NFC East and losing in the Wild Card playoffs. Where do you have the Cowboys finishing this season? Let us know on Twitter @PostinsPostcard or @FishSports or hit the CowboysHQ.com message boards to discuss.
8. It’s our Tweet of the Week:
“Coach Bryant” was none too thrilled with Claiborne not cashing into on two near-interceptions against Seattle. But at least Claiborne is around the ball these days, and that’s something.
9. This week’s great moments in headline porn: “Friend Donald Trump makes former Cowboy WR Michael Irvin think he can run for president” from dallasnews.com
I’m assuming Deion Sanders would be his VP pick?
10. One more thing. Do Your Job.
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