It may not even matter.
I half-wonder if backup Mark Sanchez could start for Dallas without much dropoff. But just half-wonder.
The Cowboys are that good.
Considering the NFC East leaders have the best offensive line in football, the probable Rookie of the Year in the backfield and an overachieving defense, the decision should be that easy. But of course, decisions like these never are.
This is a delicate time for Dallas, and no one should rock the boat. Somehow, the sense here is Dallas will survive the decision whether to go with a quarterback who has started six games or one who’s started 155.
I’d start Prescott and trade Tony Romo.
Before the Nov. 1 trade deadline, if possible, even though that move would cost Dallas about $14 million in cap space. An offseason deal after June 1 wouldn’t be as financially painful, but it’d be smart to deal Romo to an on-the-cusp Super Bowl contender like quarterback-needy Denver or going-nowhere teams like the Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears or New York Jets. All those are desperate for a quarterback, even the Rams, who gave away first- and third-round picks to help land celebrated practice squadder Jared Goff.
Assuming no trade is forthcoming, Dallas should stick with the rookie over the 36-year-old, fragile Romo. Chemistry can be an elusive commodity, and the Cowboys clearly have it now.
Does replacing the red-hot Prescott with Romo divide the Cowboys’ locker room that believes in the youngster? Or does sticking with Prescott make for a more divisive locker room because so many of his teammates have supported Romo through thick and thinner?
Prescott didn’t throw an interception until his 177th career pass, an NFL record. Now he would be fine to sit, content as the future cornerstone of this franchise after as impressive baptism under fire. Would Romo be a team-first guy as well or embittered, knowing the clock on his career is ticking? Romo’s been noticeably silent while Prescott has been perfectly deferential, entirely respectful of his elder.
“This is Tony’s team,” Prescott said. “I knew that going into the situation. I think everybody knew that. I’m just trying to do the best I can to give my team a chance to win week in and week out.”
Or Romo’s team. Slip of the tongue there?
“As long as we’re winning, I really don’t care,” Prescott added. “Obviously I want to play. That’s the competitor in me. But if we’re winning I’m happy.”
Would Romo say the same? I’m not even sure Jerry Jones can screw this up. Stick with Prescott, as he should, and Dallas has the perfect composed, accurate quarterback in a ball-control offense. Reinsert Romo, and Dallas may not miss a beat, at least until he gets hurt again.
The future of the Cowboys is clearly here. The smart move is to leave the past in the past.