Cowboys 1st and 10: Why Tony Romo Starts When Ready; Dallas At Green Bay Storylines

Wondering why Tony Romo should start when he returns? I’ll tell you why. Plus we check out the latest in bow ties and why Marty B feels the need to keep hating on Jason Witten in this edition of First and 10.

1. Dak Prescott just had to be really good, didn’t he? I kid, of course. You can’t hold any of this debate against him. And as our Mike Fisher reported earlier this week, Mr. Prescott — along with his fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott — are doing and saying all the right things when it comes to the Cowboys and the issue of Tony Romo.

I don’t really understand what the issue is, frankly. I get that Prescott has exceeded any reasonable expectation for his play the first five weeks, as I told Wess Moore on Fox Sports Radio on Tuesday.

https://twitter.com/PostinsPostcard/status/786225390645678081

But what I don’t understand is why some Cowboys fans are so eager to throw Romo out with the trash? Yes, I get the narrative (he fails in the big moments) and some of that falls on Romo. But certainly not even the majority of it should. You’re talking about a guy that, in my opinion, is a Top 10 quarterback in this league and has a track record for executing this offense. You know, this one:

https://twitter.com/CoachBillick/status/786327669076004865

It’s a no-brainer. When Romo comes back he gets his job back. The Cowboys have been clear about that. I think the only hedge Jerry Jones was providing earlier this week was to the WHEN. It may not be Oct. 30, as most of us have assumed. It may be the following week against Cleveland, and if that’s the case that’s all right by me. That’s a much better opponent to break Romo in against than the Eagles.

Prescott is the future. No one disputes that. And EVEN IF you believe Romo should be, say, traded, you still have to know if the guy can be productive to have any accurate gauge of his value. Think about Peyton Manning five years ago. That was a guy with neck fusion surgery who missed an entire year of football. The Colts released him. The Broncos only had to commit money to see if Manning could still get it done. Had that been a trade, it would have been a completely different transaction. NFL owners don’t mind committing money in situations like that because all they take is a cap hit. But assets like other players and draft picks? That’s another conversation and NFL general managers are far more reticent to do that. So if you want to deal Romo, no one is taking him sight unseen. They’ll wait until he’s released.

USA Today Images

Fish has also provided the template of what might happen when and if Romo is released within the next year. It’s not the worst cap hit I’ve ever seen, but the Cowboys don’t get a ton back in 2017 for their trouble.

So you play Romo when he returns for another reason. Above, Billick highlighted why. He had some of the best numbers of his career. And he did it on roughly 100 fewer attempts than in any previous season. Now, I get it — it’s two years and two more injuries later. There may be some dropoff. But there are things in this offense that Romo can do and Prescott cannot do yet, and those things Romo can do — deeper passes, a better back-shoulder fade pass and ability to improvise — makes the offense better.

You know, you won’t admit it. But this really isn’t about Romo. It’s about Prescott. It’s about the new shiny thing behind center. Think about the year Romo broke through, got the starting job and set the NFL ablaze. I was covering the Buccaneers at the time and I came in to cover the Thanksgiving Day game. Dallas destroyed them and it might have been the single best game of Romo’s career. Drew Bledsoe became the backup that season, and it’s not like Bledsoe was a shlub. The guy took the Patriots to a Super Bowl.

Do you remember how Bledsoe lost his job? Poor play.

How about we let Romo lose his job the way an NFL veteran of his caliber should be allowed to lose his job — by his play and not by this growing outcry that a 23-year old rookie is a better option this season than Romo.

2. By the way, what do you get the local football team’s rookie quarterback? A bow tie made completely of peacock feathers. It’s $195 each and cornerback Brandon Carr got one for Dak Prescott.

Is that in the Niemen-Marcus catalog or can I just get that on Amazon? I’m asking for a friend. 

3. Greg Hardy intends to pursue a career in Mixed Martial Arts. OK. You know, it’s a good thing he has that football career to fall back on … oh wait. That’s right. Nevermind.

4. Injury to watch before Sunday’s game? The injuries to Packers RB Eddie Lacy (ankle) and RB James Starks (knee). Lacy was limited all week and is questionable. Starks didn’t practice all week but is also listed as questionable. Even if both play, they won’t be 100 percent. It’s more likely only one plays. That means you might see some of rookie RB Don Jackson, who at the moment is on the Packers’ practice squad. This could certainly impact how efficient the Packers’ offense is on Sunday. It could lead to more long downs-and-distances to deal with against the Dallas defense, and that would play into the hands of the Cowboys’ solid secondary.

Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports

5. Marty B is back in the local news. Why? Well, you know why.

"(Jason) Witten didn't talk to me when I was in Dallas. He didn't help me," Bennett said on an episode of E: 60 on ESPN earlier this week. “Very rarely did we talk. I hated him. I hated Witten."

Witten, naturally, took the high road when asked about Bennett’s comments on Thursday.

"Hey look, I've always taken a lot of pride in that I want to play and play at a high level," Witten told the Dallas media. "I'm always communicating and helping and all of that stuff. And there is a part of the business that I get. Martellus probably wanted his opportunity and to be able to go play and I get that. I don't know where all that really kind of stems from. So that's why I said I know he's in a good place.

"For me, every day you've got to go prove it and you've got to go earn it and that's something I have a chip on my shoulder and it really gives me confidence because that's the way I approach it. Will that cost me sometime? 'Hey, he was just a grinder and the tread on the tires got ran off a little early.' Maybe so. But I don't know that I would change it because of that."

You know, Bennett has proven himself to be a solid tight end in the NFL since he left the Dallas Cowboys. But, yet, he continues to complain about basically being Witten’s backup for three years, a time when he averaged just 1.5 catches per game. Well, sir, I’m sorry you had the misfortune of playing behind a future Hall-of-Famer for three years. A veteran is under no obligation to help a fellow player (though, within the confines of the locker room, it would be unusual if a veteran didn’t mentor a young player). But there was certainly no obligation on Witten’s part to do so. ... though that doesn't sound like the Witten we know. I also recall that when the Cowboys tried to use both of them on the field Bennett kept dropping the ball. Am I wrong about that?

The whole piece on ESPN.com is here. Give it a read. Bennett took his frustration out on Jay Cutler and the Bears, too.

All I can say is that if Bennett had been good enough to start over Witten he would have started. And maybe that tells you all you need to know about this one.

6. Getting ready for Sunday’s game with the Packers? Let us help. Here are all of our stories previewing this week’s game through Friday night:

Fish on "Cowboys QB Controversy" Dak, Dez + Zeke Just Showed You How to Run a Locker Room

Cowboys 100: Facts and Figures for Packers

Cowboys Starcast: Candid Audio With Dez and Dak

Jerry's 'Can of Worms' Cowboys: Two QBs, One Contender

Cowboys Fantasy Football For Week 6 and Injury Report

Rare Air: Just How Good Are The Dallas DBs?

7. My three keys to Sunday’s game with the Packers?

The Cowboys’ run offense against the Packers’ run defense. So here’s all you need to know:

https://twitter.com/PatDoneyNBC5/status/785822843233632256

Now maybe the Packers haven’t played the best teams in the NFL to start the season, but that’s still impressive.  In fact, our Mark Lane provided a bit of a window into those Pack opponents here:

https://twitter.com/therealmarklane/status/786628765430329344

You know the Packers are going to key on Elliott and you know the Cowboys are going to try and run the football anyway. Whoever wins this battle, most likely, wins the game. 

Put the heat on Aaron Rodgers. This is a strange year offensively for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. The Packers are actually dead last in the NFL in total passing yards (839) and 27th in yards per game at 210. I think the Cowboys would like to see that continue, so the pressure they were able to put on Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton last week needs to continue at Lambeau Field. The problem? The Pack are much better at protecting Rodgers than the Bengals are at protecting Dalton. The Pack have given up just seven sacks this season, so the waves of pressure that were so successful for the Cowboys last week will be put to a new test. We should add: Some people inside The Star this week, Fish included, came away with a really good feeling about Tank Lawrence having a bust-out game in Green Bay. That would help immensely.

Protect Dak Prescott. The Cowboys did an impressive job of insulating Prescott last week against a solid Bengals pass rush. Well the Packers come into this game with 14 sacks, tied for fifth in the NFL. Nick Perry leads the Pack with 4.5 sacks, followed by 3 sacks by Clay Matthews and 2 sacks by Kyler Fackrell. So the Pack can spread the pressure throughout their front seven and the entire Cowboys offensive line is going to have to account for that, especially these three, to make sure Prescott remains upright.

8. It’s our Tweet of the Week:

https://twitter.com/BenRogers/status/785913971089866752

https://twitter.com/therealmarklane/status/785918251343634432

Because sometimes you need two tweets to tell the truth.

9. This week’s great moments in headline porn: “Is Dak Prescott Better off without Dez Bryant” from foxsports.com

https://twitter.com/CHQ_Jordan/status/786057857741496320

No. Not even close. And it’s exactly why I’ve never put much value in either Colin Cowherd’s or Jason Whitlock’s opinions. Do you hear ANYBODY who ACTUALLY covers the team saying this? No.

10. My prediction for Sunday’s game? I actually don’t think much of this hinges on whether Dez Bryant plays or not. I just thing Green Bay’s defense is equipped to limit the effectiveness of the Dallas run game. That, plus what I think will be a solid game by Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will ultimately allow the Pack to win a close game. Packers 24, Cowboys 23.

And one more thing…

https://twitter.com/ffdraftstats/status/786370727821791232

There’s no way you had that in the office pool. Admit it.

Want to talk more Cowboys? Hit the CowboysHQ.com message boards or hit up Postins @PostinsPostcard or Mike Fisher @FishSports on Twitter.

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