The news that starting quarterback Tony Romo had suffered a herniated disc in his back during last week’s game against the Washington Redskins was devastating to the Dallas Cowboys playoff hopes. With another win-or-go-home finale against the Philadelphia Eagles, it seemed hopeless for the Cowboys to be able to limp into the playoffs this year. But all that changed as the week progressed.
News started to surface that both owner and general manager Jerry Jones had not ruled out Romo for the game, despite the need to have surgery to repair the herniated disc that bothered him down the stretch in Week 16. Most thought this was just smoke and mirrors – an attempt to keep the rival Eagles from gameplaning for backup quarterback Kyle Orton. Then the news started to snowball when head coach Jason Garrett refused to rule Romo out. Add on reports Romo has gotten injections in his back to relieve some of the pain and that he is spending ample time in the trainer’s room rehabbing, and now the story starts to become real.
But, with all honesty, do you really expect Romo to make a difference if he is indeed able to suit up Sunday night? You never know.
If Romo can’t go, Jones will get a chance to cash in on his insurance policy he bought in Orton. Orton’s no slouch, but does he have what it takes to take Dallas on a playoff run if they do indeed beat Philadelphia? Maybe. He holds a 35-34 record as a starter with Kansas City, Denver and Chicago. He has playoff experience, and he’s been in Dallas’ system long enough that the system is second nature for him. But coming in cold with only a week’s worth of preparation time with the first-team offense is not that much. Especially when so much rides on this one game.
And then you have the case of John Kitna, who Dallas signed Wednesday, is 41 and has been in Washington coach high school football, He last played football for the Cowboys in 2011 and has some serious rust to shake off. If it comes down to desperation, can Kitna get on the field and pick up where he left off. Dallas’ system hasn’t changed since he was in the NFL, but age and conditioning have to be issues to take into account. He knows the offense well enough still to run the Cowboys attack, but like questioned before, does he have what it takes to get it done in crunch time.
So, looking at three quarterback options Dallas has available, which do you take. Gimpy Romo, the franchise quarterback? The back-up, Orton, who has playoff experience but hasn’t had a meaningful snap in years? Or coach Kitna, the 41-year-old off the street veteran, who knows the system but is questionable in the physical arena? Pick your poison.