Tom Landry didn’t make a lot of mistakes in his 29 seasons as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
He did make one in 1971.
Landry toyed with alternating quarterbacks, using both Roger Staubach and Craig Morton for a short period of time. Predictably, it did not work. Landry then settled with the future Pro Football Hall of Fame honoree Staubach and the Cowboys won their final seven regular-season games, likely in large part to the continuity at the most important position on the field.
The idea of alternating quarterbacks hasn’t taken off in the NFL, because there seems to be way too many obstacles and negatives than positives about the notion.
Yet, we’re all for the spirit of creativity, and alternating Dak Prescott and Tony Romo would be one way of getting around a looming quarterback controversy for the 4-1 Cowboys.
Like 45 years ago, the Dallas Cowboys have two quality quarterbacks, and it appears like they have a decision to make soon. The leader of the Cowboys is Romo. The 36-year-old has been out since the preseason with a back injury. Romo is making strides in his recovery and he reportedly could be back as soon as Oct. 30 when the Cowboys play a critical NFC East game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cowboys will be led into Green Bay on Sunday – Dallas has a bye next week – by the rookie Prescott, who has been one of the top stories of the NFL early season. He was taken out of Mississippi State in the fourth round and was not expected to be anything but a project.
However, when Dallas backup quarterback Kellen Moore suffered a broken ankle early in training camp, Prescott was thrust into backup spot, although Dallas was still considering veteran options, including Nick Foles.
Yet, Prescott impressed early in the preseason and then, when Romo was hurt, Prescott didn’t take a step back. In fact, Prescott has continued to make steps every week. He has yet to throw an interception and he is a big reason why the Cowboys have won four straight games.
Dallas owner Jerry Jones has maintained Romo is still the Cowboys’ No. 1 quarterback and it seems like, barring a change of heart, Romo will be the quarterback when he is ready to play.
Prescott seems to get it. He told reporters this week: “This is Tony’s team. I knew that going into the situation. I think everybody knew that. I’m just trying to do the best I can to give my team a chance to win week in and week out.”
Now, back to the creativity part. Some Dallas fans have posed the question whether the Cowboys could rotate Romo and Prescott.
Ok, we’ll bite. I asked some current NFL scouts whether that could be a feasible situation. The responses were swift and definitive.
An AFC scout: “Oh no. That would never work.”
An NFC scout: “It wouldn’t work. Doesn’t make sense. It’s too hard to gets reps and timing for both guys.”
An NFC scout: “I can’t think of any positives to that idea.”
The overriding consensus is it simply wouldn’t be feasible for a NFL team to use two quarterbacks, especially quarterbacks like Romo and Prescott whose styles are so different. The Cowboys would have to change approaches in mid-game.
It would cause major headaches in the pass-protection game and the timing of the receivers would be off. This wouldn’t just be an issue during games, but the practice week would be chaotic as well. Many scouts don’t think the Cowboys would be able to have effective practice preparation using two quarterbacks equally.
Of course, the lack of practice time would adversely affect both quarterbacks and it would confuse the rest of the offense.
Occasionally, teams have used a second quarterback as a change of pace for a certain play. Thus, it’s possible Dallas could use Prescott in a specific instance to spell Romo for a short period if Romo, indeed, becomes the starter again. But the idea of using two quarterbacks equally doesn’t seem to be a viable option for Dallas.
Yes, the Prescott-Romo question may be difficult. But choosing one will be better for the entire team than trying to compromise and use both.