Actually, you’re lying a little bit, negative headline. You see, generally speaking, being Tony Romo is pretty sweet, or at least we assume it is. It’s not quite as fun as being Tom Brady, and it’s not nearly as righteous as being Tim Tebow, but it’s still pretty damn cool on a superficial (read: male) level due to Romo’s mini-Jeter batting order of women before he settled down with Candace Crawford.
But what about Tony Romo the quarterback, the guy who so thoroughly enjoys chocking in the fourth quarter? So says the narrative, at least. That guy doesn’t have any friends to play with.
Now admittedly, there’s a chance that a month from now we could look back on this post and laugh heartily while we clink together our shots of Patron, and be quite comfortable in our knowledge that all is well in the Cowboy kingdom. But as we glance down the Cowboys’ increasingly lengthy list of injuries with the second week of preseason play ending tonight, the inability to have that kind of foresight and optimism is the underlying point here.
While Jason Witten had never suffered a major injury and there was a freakish odor to his lacerated spleen, the injuries to Dez Bryant and Miles Austin aren’t greeted with the same happy thoughts. That’s because while they may not be serious enough to threaten either players’ Week 1 status, they’re muscle strains and pulls, and signs of wear. And it’s Aug. 20.
Austin has a hamstring injury and will miss the remainder of the preseason. It’s an injury that’s now reached chronic status after he missed six games last year with the same strain, and it’s telling/troubling that the Cowboys aren’t even offering an estimate for how long he’ll be out. Given the depth at WR this year, there’s no way Austin should be among the top 20 in ADP at his position as he is on some major fantasy websites (like ESPN). The drafting public needs to drop him to around 25 behind Jeremy Maclin, and in the company of Demaryius Thomas and Stevie Johnson.
Bryant is equally concerning due to his frequent tweaks. He left the Cowboys’ joint practice today with the Chargers, and an MRI later revealed patellar tendinitis. Again, not serious, and again, with proper rest and treatment he’ll be fine for Week 1. But again, this is a muscle issue two weeks before meaningful football even begins.
The cumulative effect of the continued brittleness of Bryant and Austin along with Witten’s absence (which will optimistically and hopefully be only one game, but conservatively it could last until October), means that suddenly Romo isn’t looking nearly as sexy. Laurent Robinson is gone, so if either Austin or Bryant continue to show signs of wear after practice workouts and miss significant time during the season, Romo will be throwing to Kevin Ogletree, who has just 25 receptions over three career seasons.
Don’t be over reactionary with Romo. Instead, be cautionary. I’m about to repeat this far too much over the next few weeks, so here it is again: having a good QB isn’t good enough right now. To survive in a league where two passers cruised by Dan Marino’s single-season passing yards record last year, you need to reach for an elite quarterback early, and manage your risk while doing so.
Using the ESPN average draft position again, it’s borderline absurd that right now that Romo is coming off the board nearly 15 picks earlier than Matt Ryan (Romo is at 49.0, while Ryan is at 63.9). You can wait a full round later and get Ryan, a QB who’s passed for 164.5 yards this preseason, is connecting with two far less injury-prone receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White, and last year the two were nearly identical in yards (Romo: 4,184, Ryan: 4,177), TDs (Romo: 31, Ryan: 29), and INTs (Romo: 10, Ryan: 12).