On Friday morning, the Dallas Cowboys announced what the whole sports world already knew would happen — starting quarterback Tony Romo will undergo back surgery and be out for the remainder of the NFL season. News broke from ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday that this was going to happen. However, Jason Garrett denied this and said that Romo was day-to-day and would be evaluated.
In the middle of the week, however, the Cowboys signed 41-year-old John Kitna and then the speculations started swirling. For the third straight year, the Cowboys will be playing a division foe for the NFC East title. Two years ago, the Cowboys lost to the New York Giants, and last year, they lost to the Washington Redskins. Both times, the Cowboys lost and went home for the playoffs.
This year, though, there’s going to be something different for the Cowboys – Kyle Orton will be leading the charge for the NFC East crown against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles sit at 9-6, while Dallas has an 8-7 record. Since Dallas has already beaten the Eagles once this year, Sunday’s game is going to be a winner-take-all game.
The question I have, however, is who or what is Orton playing for? Let me clarify the question. I don’t mean that Orton shouldn’t be in the game. The question is more geared towards the repercussions that could come from the game.
Romo has been labeled as a quarterback that can’t win when the game is on the line. Often times, he throws an interception late in the game on an ill-advised pass. Look no further than the Green Bay Packers game in which Romo threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter that helped the Packers win the game. Imagine what will happen if Orton is able to pull off the victory on Sunday night against the Eagles. Not only will the critics rise up in droves, but the Romo questions will be magnified.
Also, if Orton is able to lead Dallas to a victory on Sunday, their will be a false sense of accomplishment coming out of Valley Ranch. Owner and GM Jerry Jones will go into next season thinking this team was successful and will not feel the need to make any changes. The reality of the situation is that the Cowboys will be in the playoffs as the division winner in the worst division in football. The Cowboys have one of the worst defenses in NFL history, and it would be a shame to think this team should be kept as is for next season.
If Jerry was smart — and we know his GM skills are very questionable — he would blow this thing up and start from scratch, instead of trying to cover the wounds with a band-aid.
If Orton and the Cowboys lose this game, then the Romo apologists will use this to point towards the system, not the quarterback, as the reason this team hasn’t done anything during the Romo era. Unfortunately for Orton, a loss will point to his inability to lead this team in Romo’s absence, or at least that’s what the critics will say.
A loss also spells the doom for Garrett and the coaching staff. Jones has already said that if they lose and don’t make the playoffs, he’s going to fire Garrett. This, to me, is a lose-lose situation for the Cowboys and their fans. Unfortunately, a coaching change will not create the change needed for the Cowboys. Until Jones decides to fire himself as general manager, things will never get better in Dallas.
Most importantly, though, Orton is playing for the right to lead the Cowboys into the playoffs. As we’ve all said before, once you get into the dance, anything can happen. If you think the playoffs are the only thing Orton is playing for this weekend, you’re grossly mistaken. There’s more on the line than just a playoff berth. Orton hold the jobs of many people in his hands as he zips the ball around the field. Depending on whose side you’re on will determine how you want this game to turn out. Some people are real fans and want the Cowboys to win the game for football reasons. Others are hoping for a complete overhaul.
We shall find out exactly what happens on Sunday night.