After trying to get over five turnovers by the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of their 12-7 preseason “loss” over the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, fans of America’s Team focused on the offense were drooling over Alex Tanney. The 25-year-old roster hopeful jumped Nick Stephens on the depth chart before the team’s third preseason game and then didn’t disappoint by completing 14 of 19 passes for 136 yards, a touchdown on a 10-minute scoring drive and an interception. However, it’s important for fans not to overreact to one second-half preseason performance, at least not in a short-term sense.
Many Dallas fans are now saying Tanney should be Tony Romo‘s primary backup, especially considering how awful Kyle Orton played against Arizona, but you just can’t take much from preseason games. Tanney had the Cowboys’ starting offensive line on the field for most of the second half and veterans like Dwayne Harris to catch passes, so he was at an advantage against Arizona’s second-, third- and fourth-string defenders. However, it’s performances like this that make it easier for teams to take chances on players like Tanney as projects.
Again, nobody should expect Tanney to come in and play like that in Romo’s place if the Cowboys’ $100 million quarterback goes down with an injury during the regular season. But now the Cowboys’ coaching staff at least has to discuss the possibility of keeping Tanney on the roster, if not just the practice squad, as a project for the future. Dallas did just that with Romo a decade ago and now he’s broken virtually every franchise passing record in the book.
Hopefully the Cowboys will give Tanney a near-full exhibition start in their final preseason game like they did with Stephen McGee last year. That will show if his performance against the Cardinals on Saturday was a fluke or a sign of potential that Dallas needs to pursue in the long-term.