Sports Outside the Beltway

Tony Romo Cowboys’ New Starter Over Jerry Jones’ Objections

Tony Romo is going to get a shot to be the Dallas Cowboys’ new starting quarterback.

As much as the owner didn’t want to see it, when Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe was benched Monday night it wasn’t just for one quarter or one half. According to a source, Tony Romo will be the starter when the Cowboys play the Panthers on Sunday night in Charlotte, N.C. It would be his first NFL start. The source said Romo will be with the first-team offense when practice begins today.

But the move is one that makes Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones uneasy. “I’ve thought the best chance for us to be where we wanted to be, contending in the playoffs, was to go with the experienced quarterback in Drew, and I don’t know if I’ve changed my mind there at all,” Jones told reporters while he attended the NFL owners meetings in New Orleans on Tuesday afternoon.

Jones said he did not know who would start Sunday. “But we have to win games,” he said. “We have to give ourselves every opportunity. There is no question Romo has mobility and he can mitigate some of the problems we have with Drew’s mobility. On the other hand, you saw [against the Giants] we give up some good stuff experience-wise. It’ll be a tough decision.”

Bledsoe declined an interview request Tuesday. Clearly, though, he’s ticked off, and believes he’s the best man for the job. Bledsoe has said he would never again be a backup, but it’s doubtful he will retire on the spot. He showered as coach Bill Parcells talked to the team after Monday night’s 36-22 loss to the New York Giants and left quickly. The last thing he was heard saying on Monday night was, “It was a very bad decision.”

Jones is almost certainly right that Bledsoe is the better quarterback right now, despite his lack of mobility and propensity to make bad decisions. He’s still got a great arm and has fifteen years experience as an NFL starter.

Still, Romo has the physical ability to overcome the problems caused by a mediocre offensive line and has more upside. If nothing else, this will let the team learn whether they need to take a quarterback in the first round of the 2007 draft and/or sign a free agent.

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Bledsoe left New England and Buffalo because he didn’t want to be a mentor or an insurance policy. He’s hinted that Dallas is his last stop and has indicated that if he’s not starting, he’d rather be home playing with his kids.

Of course, what Bledsoe wants matters little to Parcells. All the coach wants is the QB who gives the Cowboys the best chance of winning. That can still be Bledsoe, as evidenced by his six touchdown passes and one interception in Dallas’ three victories. But those have all been against teams with losing records. Against playoff contenders Jacksonville, Philadelphia and the Giants, he has one TD and seven INTs.

Romo arrived in Dallas in 2003 and has outlasted Jones-picked quarterbacks Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson and Drew Henson, mostly on ability but also with a mix of intangibles that Parcells admires. Jones believes in him, too, with a recent contract extension for next year serving as proof.

Mobility is Romo’s biggest selling point. That could be more necessity than luxury considering the way the line played Monday night. Romo also plays with a gunslinger mentality, which sometimes means throwing passes with an I’ll-cram-it-in-there bravado. Experience could help team him when he can and can’t. (For what it’s worth: Bledsoe’s never had a three-interception half for Dallas.) “I definitely would have liked to have performed better,” Romo said.

UPDATE: Todd Archer adds this statistical note: “Romo becomes the 10th different starting quarterback for the Cowboys since Troy Aikman retired following the 2000 season.” That’s something else.

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I hope Romo’s first pass at Carolina isn’t an interception.


How about them Giants JJ?

Posted by Fersboo | October 25, 2006 | 11:51 am | Permalink

The Giants appear to be the best team in the division, which is how they ended up last season.

So far, the Cowboys have been mediocre on the offensive line and merely good on defense despite having invested a ton of big-time draft picks on that side of the ball.

The Eagles are just too inconsistent and the wheels are coming off the Redskins.

Posted by James Joyner | October 26, 2006 | 01:06 pm | Permalink

….the wheels are coming off the Redskins.

No, the tow truck is already here to haul it off to the salvage yard.

Posted by Fersboo | October 27, 2006 | 01:43 pm | Permalink

My question is neither football nor the current subject matter, but itâ??s about the only way to get a request into Jerry Jones. Phillippi Sparks played for the Cowboys in 2000, as Counter back. His daughter, Jordin Sparks, won American Idol for 2007.
I think it would be super and in good taste of Jerry, to have Jordin sing the American Anthem opening game day, September 9, 2007.
(Is there a way to get this request to Jerry Jones?)

Posted by John M Gonsalves | July 5, 2007 | 05:37 pm | Permalink

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