Cowboys 1st and 10: Could you do what Tony Romo? Plus 10 Storylines For Ravens

Each Saturday I provide 10 quick hits on the Dallas Cowboys. I work through whether any of us could have done what Tony Romo did on Tuesday. Rolando McClain is eligible to come back from suspension. But should he? And Ravens prep in this edition of First and 10.

1. Let’s just watch this one more time.

I’ve been in locker rooms for 20 years. That’s in high school, college and professional football. I have difficulty remembering a player who abdicated his job, for lack of a better word, with such grace, class and humility as Romo did on Tuesday. I wasn’t sure what I expected when I found out he was talking to the media on Tuesday. But it WASN’T that.

Let’s talk about how hard that was for a minute. Do you get it? I mean do you REALLY get it? Romo is blessed in that his job is something that he loves and he’s been doing it for a quarter-century, with more than 10 years in the NFL. Not all of us are that blessed, but think about your job. Is it something you REALLY love? Is that job at a place you REALLY love to work? Or have you worked at a job and a place you REALLY loved in the past? OK, now you’re Romo in this scenario. So, one day, after years of doing a great job and earning heaps of praise from your boss, your boss tells you the job is no longer yours because there’s a younger version of you that can do the job. You protest. You reportedly ask for a chance to compete for your job because you love it so much and you think you can still contribute. Your boss says no. You don’t have to go away. You’re not being laid off, but for now you’re going to have to watch someone else do your job even though you know you can do it.

Now you’re in Romo’s shoes. Could you have done what he did on Tuesday? Could you have done it as conciliatory, as classily and as humbly as Romo did? I don’t know that I could have. Romo had to have been upset. I mean, to ask for the opportunity to compete, to ask that of the coach and general manager you’ve trusted for years, and to have them both say no must have been like a gut punch.

So why did Romo say what he said? I mean, this could have devolved into something downright Favre-ian, you know? Well I have three reasons why. First, Romo has always been team-first. At least that’s been my impression of him. The teammate in him superseded any ego he might have about wanting to play. Second, Dak Prescott has been incredibly humble and respectful of Romo and this team throughout the season, and I think that made what Romo felt he had to do a little bit easier. Imagine if the more brash Johnny Manziel were in Prescott’s shoes. Yeah, that’ll make your head hurt. Third, this Cowboys team is on the verge of something special. At 8-1, they have the best record in the NFL and are now a serious Super Bowl contender. As much as I’m sure Romo wants to play, the player and teammate in him probably wants a ring more.

Romo did the right thing on Tuesday. He swallowed his pride and his competitiveness and set the table for his successor with a heartfelt speech. Yes, he wrote it down. But that doesn’t make it any less meaningful. It just means he thinks before he speaks, and that’s a quality to admire, not belittle.

Later on this year we will explore what happens next with Romo’s career. People are already doing it, but we’ll get more in-depth as the season concludes. But I’ll note two things right now. First, it takes one play for everything to change and Romo knows that as well as anyone. Second, I think most would agree that Romo is among the Top 5 quarterbacks in Cowboys history (Troy Aikman, Don Meredith, Roger Staubach and Danny White are the others). This development makes it likely that Romo will be the only one of the five of them to not conclude his career in Dallas.

Not in Dallas, you say? Romo isn’t retiring people. And while Jerry Jones says he wants Romo here, there are financial realities that might prevent that, along with Romo’s own ego. Sure, it’s fine to put your ego and desire in a drawer during the season. But after the season? That’s another matter.

2. The Geoff Swaim injury is a bit tricky for the Cowboys. You see, with Swaim’s torn pectoral putting him on the injured reserve, the Cowboys have just two tight ends now — Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar. From a passing game standpoint that doesn’t sound so bad. Witten is indestructible and Escobar occasionally catches a pass. Where Swaim’s injury has the potential to hurt the Cowboys is in two-tight end running sets, where Swaim was involved. Is Escobar a good enough blocker to assist Witten in these sets? This certainly has the potential to hurt the running game, if Escobar is not capable.

3. Rolando McClain is eligible to come back from his suspension. Jerry Jones, ever the optimist, didn’t even sound like he wanted to talk about McClain on Thursday, saying that McClain wants to play again in Dallas but Jones wouldn’t commit to having him back.

I can say, "Just let it go, Jerry. Let it go.'' Or I can listen to Fish all week on 105.3 The Fan suggesting that Ro is about to get a drug suspension stacked onto his existing drug suspension and realize that Ro is the one who has let himself go.

4. I spent some time on Monday with Wess Moore of

We talked mostly about the Cowboys’ big win over Dallas, and this was the day before Tony Romo’s big press conference.

So, after the Romo presser, Josh Pacheco of ESPN Hawaii and I went in-depth on Romo’s words, the ramifications for the Cowboys moving forward and potential teams that might be interested in Romo this coming offseason (my apologies for the really big photo of me. You don't need to see that).

And in case you missed it, click here to read my First and 10 from a couple of weeks ago in which I wrote about a few teams that might be interested in his services.

5. You want some good news? Barry Church is optimistic he could be back in a couple of weeks.

6. Getting ready for Sunday’s game with Baltimore? Let me help. Here are links to all our stories leading up to the Ravens game:

Cowboys 100 Facts and Figures for Ravens

Cowboys Starcast: Inside the Cowboys Romo and Dak Moves, Plus Ravens Prep

Cowboys Fantasy Picks for Week 11

The Truth of What’s Really Behind Cowboys Jerry’s words on Romo and Rolando

Cowboys Dez, Dak, Zeke and Witten Reflect on Tony Romo’s Emotional Address

Inside Tony Romo’s next move: The Cowboys … and Beyond

Video: Cowboys Tony Romo Makes a Supportive Concession Speech on his Dark Place and Dak’s Magic

7. My three keys to victory for Dallas on Sunday?

First, let Dak Prescott loose a little bit. And when I write that I mean throw the ball down the field a bit more. Last week he connected nicely with Dez Bryant on a long touchdown pass. This Sunday it sounds like the Ravens’ top corner, Jimmy Smith, probably won’t play. Reports out of Baltimore indicate he’s doubtful and has not practiced all week. That leaves the Ravens’ secondary vulnerable down the field and the Cowboys should let Prescott try and take advantage. The Cowboys will need a consistent downfield passing game come playoff time. 

Second, keep the Ravens’ running game bottled up. The Ravens are No. 28 in the NFL in rushing yards with 773 yards. Plus, they’ve scored just five touchdowns on the ground. That means the Ravens have been relying on QB Joe Flacco big time. Slowing down the Ravens’ passing game is going to occupy the Cowboys’ defense quite a bit. This isn’t the time for the Cowboys’ front seven to allow Terence West and Kenneth Dixon to get uncorked. This is the easiest way to keep the Ravens one-dimensional.

Third, keep winning third down on both sides of the ball. This is key because the Ravens have been so bad on third down this season (converting just 33.5 percent of the time). The Cowboys are one of the best on third down offensively, converting 47.3 percent of the time. Dallas needs to maintain this disparity on Sunday.

8. It’s our Tweet of the Week:

There are no words to express how dumb this is.

9. This week’s great moments in headline porn: “Jerry Jones on linking football to head trauma: ‘I believe we’re drawing conclusions so far out from the facts” from

I think there’s enough evidence to support there’s a link between head trauma and CTE. But this article is worth the read simply to understand Jones’ rock-solid research on the matter — his CAT scan at a Houston hospital under an assumed name that showed he had the brain of a 40-year-old despite his football career. All it proves is that, as in all medical matters, everyone is impacted by head trauma differently.

10. My prediction: Cowboys 24, Ravens 21

I expect a struggle on Sunday because the Ravens come into this game with one of the league’s best defenses, especially against the run, and they’re going to focus their energy on slowing down Ezekiel Elliott. Expect a defensive struggle, a tight game and a Dan Bailey field goal to win it.

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

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