Before this year you would have been hard pressed to find a list ranking QBs that had Tony Romo outside the top 10 (NFL.com had him fifth going into last year). Now Romo is a backup in a league where Bryce Petty, Matt Barkley, Sam Bradford, Colin Kaepernick, Trevor Siemian, Jared Goff and Brock Osweiler all start.
Do not get me wrong, Dak Prescott has been really good. He’s far outdone everyone’s expectations, but simply put, it is ridiculous to start him over Tony Romo. Romo has been the stronghold under center for the Cowboys since 2006 and he has lead them to the playoffs four times without ever having a passer rating lower than 90.5. His worst year was the Cowboys’ 8-8 season in which they lost two overtime games and missed the playoffs by one game – Romo still had 28 touchdowns to 19 interceptions.
Throughout his career, the league’s best backup has put together some incredible seasons. Most notably, in 2014, Romo threw 34 TD’s and 9 picks, leading the NFL in completion percentage, yards per attempt, passer rating, and game-winning drives, while finishing 5th in MVP voting. The previous year he threw a measly 31 TD’s to 10 interceptions. The fact remains that in his last full season, Tony Romo was arguably the NFL’s best quarterback.
On a surface level, Prescott brings one thing to the table to Tony Romo doesn’t have – the ability to run the ball. While Dak has run for 230 yards this year, four of his five biggest rushing games came against the Bears, Eagles, Browns and Redskins, all well below average defenses. Similarly, many times he has been unable to use his feet at all, such as his recent game against the Giants in which he looked helpless against a front-4 missing one of their best players.
Prescott also sometimes looks lost in the pocket and on at least two occasions in the Week 14 loss to the Giants, he ran into a sack trying to avoid other pressure, and consistently made bad throws while under pressure (such as the Leon Hall interception which led to the Odell Beckham touchdown). A large portion of his throws, especially big plays, are easy throws. For example, his longest pass of the year was a screen to Ezekiel Elliot and his TD pass against the Giants was a wonderfully drawn up play that had Terrence Williams running so open even Curtis Painter could have hit him for six. Again, Dak has done more than anybody could have asked, but he just isn’t the QB that Romo is.
Prescott’s numbers are inflated by the NFL’s best offensive line and maybe its third best running back. The amount of time he has in the pocket is second to none and the Cowboys run a ton of play action, screens and bootlegs to make his job easier. Also, they pass the fewest out of any team in the NFL. Dak has played well in his role, but he hasn’t been asked to do much. Imagine the Cowboys with the running game they have and a passing offense which could unlock Dez Bryant (who has largely gone unused this year). Tony Romo is a better QB than Dak Prescott, and until the Cowboys realize that, they won’t reach their full potential.