Dallas Cowboys: Is this their biggest roster problem?


Last season, the Dallas Cowboys were undefeated until the playoffs in weeks when starting quarterback Tony Romo was rested and healthy. Three of their defeats came when Romo was rusty and/or in pain. The other loss came in the only full game he missed, which was against the Arizona Cardinals.

The second-string quarterback, Brandon Weeden, started that day against the Cardinals. He was a dismal 18-for-33 passing, resulting in a 54.5% completion rate. He also tossed two interceptions. Six of those passes he completed were to tight end Jason Witten, and six others were to running backs.

It was a hard performance to watch, frankly.

More from The Landry Hat

Weeden sailed many passes well away from their intended target. He looked woefully unprepared, despite the fact that he arguably had more time to practice with the first team than any other backup quarterback in the NFL.

During spring practice and June minicamps, Weeden took nearly every first-team snap while Romo rested his back. In the week before the game, he took 100% of the snaps in practice. Despite all of that time to prepare and practice, he played poorly.

This past Sunday, Weeden left the preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers with an apparent concussion. Sadly, this left some fans pleased to see him off the field. Granted, he only played in three series, but he was 2-for-5 with 7 yards passing before leaving that day.

The bottom line is that Weeden is not the future of the franchise. If Romo only plays three more seasons, Weeden will be 34 years old at that point.

Unfortunately, the other two backup quarterbacks, Dustin Vaughn and Jameill Showers, haven’t shown enough to inspire much confidence yet, either (although I would lean toward Showers so far, based on the two games I saw).

Why are the Cowboys continuing to allow Weeden to serve as their primary backup?

Almost every single serious fan I know has this question in mind.

Yet quarterback coach Wade Wilson raved about Weeden back in June, while speaking to the Dallas Morning News:

"“I think he’s probably the most improved player. He has a greater understanding of the concepts, the protections, calling the plays, all those kinds of things. He’s made a big jump this year. His confidence and his demeanor, his complete understanding and grasping exactly where he’s supposed to go with the ball, handling blitzes and things like that, he’s been very improved.”"

While this is exciting talk, fans have yet to see that version of Weeden show up in a real game. Being the training camp hero is pretty meaningless if you wilt against actual opponents.

Back in October 2006, the Cowboys’ starting quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, was pulled by then-head coach Bill Parcells at halftime in a game against the New York Giants. Romo started the second half, throwing three interceptions. It was a loss to the Giants, but Romo was named the starting QB later that week. Bledsoe never threw another NFL pass. 

Romo, on the other hand, never looked back. He has been the team’s starter for almost nine years now, with the exception of missed time due to injuries. During his time at the helm, they have had five winning seasons, four of which resulted in postseason appearances.

At age 31, Weeden doesn’t seem to have anything even approaching Romo’s natural talent at the position, and it seems very unlikely that this will surface.

I think the optimum time to bring in an heir to Romo was probably last season. Time is of the essence. There is no one on the bench behind him who is prepared to lead the team to victory.

Long gone are the days that the Cowboys had quarterback legends like Roger Staubach or Danny White waiting in the wings. Or Jason Garrett, for that matter.

Heck. It would be nice at this point to have someone like Kyle Orton or Jon Kitna on the sidelines, both of whom were capable of winning when they backed Romo.

Regardless, I think most of us can agree that Weeden is certainly not the answer, or at least not to any question that leads to more wins.

In 2014 and 2015, the team has placed far too much pressure on Romo, with no real margin for error, should he get hurt. The dropoff in talent to their second and third options is both dramatic and a little scary.

To put things in sharp perspective, a win last year against Arizona would have resulted in a #1 seed for the Cowboys, rather than hosting a wild-card game, then being forced to go on the road the following week in Green Bay. The Cardinals game was not a blowout by any stretch of the imagination, with a final score of 28-17.

In my somewhat studied opinion, a better backup could ultimately mean the difference in whether or not Romo wins a Super Bowl ring or two. The window is certainly starting to close for him. This is important stuff.

I would love to hear your input below. Sound off. 

Next: Orlando Scandrick: Five possible free agent replacements