By Steve Silverman
» More Columns
Normally, this would be good news for the Cowboys, as he would be prepared to take them from their 4-5 start and make a legitimate run at the NFL playoffs.
But this has not been the Cowboys’ usual year. It started off that way when the oft-injured Romo broke a bone in his back this summer and head coach Jason Garrett was forced to turn over the starting quarterback position to rookie Dak Prescott, a fourth-round draft pick from Mississippi State.
Prescott did not appear to be anything special when the Cowboys drafted him. He graded out decently in all the measurable factors, including arm strength, accuracy, speed and athleticism, but he did not light it up in any of those areas.
The talk of his intangible characteristics was quite positive, but who knew how that would translate to a veteran NFL team?
It turns out that his maturity and emotional strength would turn out to be his biggest asset. Prescott has been the starter for the Cowboys since the team opened the season with a loss against the Giants.
Since then, Prescott has led the Cowboys to eight straight victories as he has thrown for 250.8 yards per game with a 66.8 completion percentage and a remarkable 14-to-2 TD-to-interception ratio.
Prescott has been getting quite a bit of help from fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott, who is already one of the top running backs in the league, and a defense that is doing just enough to win games.
But it is Prescott who took over at the most important position without missing a beat. Nothing has changed in the evaluation of his skills, although he may be a bit more accurate than he was given credit for leading up to the draft.
However, his confidence and maturity are off the charts for a rookie. It is as if he has Bill Belichick inside of his head chanting the mantra “do your job” and the rest of his body is listening.
Prescott does not get too high after leading his team on a TD drive or too low after a rare mistake or a three-and-out series. He is onto the next possession the minute he steps off the field.
That’s rare for a veteran quarterback, let alone for a rookie.
Under anything but the Cowboys’ first-place circumstances, Romo might easily move back into the starting lineup since he is healthy again.
Owner Jerry Jones made noise more than a month ago that Romo would regain his starting position when healthy, although Garrett never confirmed such a sentiment.
This could have been a controversial situation if the owner had gotten his way. But that was not about to happen because Romo took the step Tuesday to support the incumbent quarterback.
He sees the Cowboys’ record and how well the team is playing, and he came out in full support of Prescott.
“He’s earned the right to be our quarterback,” Romo said. “As hard as that is for me to say, he’s earned that right.”
Romo wants to be under center for the Cowboys, but he recognizes the amazing contribution that Prescott has made and how well the team is playing.
“You earn everything, every single day, over and over again,” Romo said. “You have to prove it. That’s the way in the NFL. That’s the way that football works. A great example of this is Dak Prescott and what he’s done.”
How often can a professional athlete with a high level of accomplishment demonstrate such a magnanimous attitude? It’s one thing to share the credit when accolades are coming, but it’s quite another to see the situation objectively when the team’s success is coming at his expense.
As commentators and fans, it’s the easiest thing in the world to see that the team is responding to its new and young leader. It’s quite another for the athlete to see the same thing.
Romo’s remarks and attitude represent nothing but class. He has always thrown a beautiful pass, and many observers believe he throws the most catchable ball in the NFL.
He has also been known for making the big mistake at the wrong time, and that’s one of the main reasons the Cowboys have not advanced past the divisional round of the playoffs since Romo took over 10 years ago.
Prescott does not make mistakes, and Romo has not stood in his way. He knows he is a lot closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and he is thinking of his team and not himself.
That’s a rarity in any aspect of life, let alone one as competitive as professional football.
Follow Steve on Twitter at @ProFootballBoy