Week 9: Dallas Cowboys & Tony Romo

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The Dallas Cowboys need to continue their smart ways in 2014 by sitting quarterback Tony Romo. Smart in the sense that, they have invested in their offensive line, and stayed committed to the ground game, where DeMarco Murray is on a mission to break records.

Week 10 they play the physical Arizona Cardinals, who just got a boost with the return of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Calais Campbell. Dallas is 6-2 on top of the NFC East, half a game ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles, who dropped to 6-3 after losing in Arizona last week. The Cardinals are 6-1, half a game ahead of the Cowboys and Detroit Lions for the NFC’s best record. This would be considered the Game of the Week in a clash between top NFC teams.

The thing is, Romo’s back issue and the Cowboys’ schedule poses a formidable challenge. They don’t have to go public with this, but behind closed doors they need to be all-in on Brandon Weeden starting week 9. That is the best approach for a backup quarterback, who’s been getting most of the first-team reps anyway while Romo has routinely gotten treatment every Wednesday. Look, Romo got extra treatment last Wednesday and Thursday, and he doesn’t sit in on the game plan meetings anymore. Yet, the veteran has full control of changing calls based off what he sees at the line. The guy doesn’t need to practice to give them the best chance to win.

With that said, they face an upper echelon Cardinals squad. The following week, they have a favorable matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That game, however, will be played in London. That’s a 14-hour plane flight for a quarterback with a back issue. Come week 11, Dallas gets to recover on their bye week. They should get lineman Doug Free back by that time, at the latest, and that’s 3 weeks of rest for Romo if he sits out until then.

That bye week heading into week 12 gives Romo nearly 4 weeks to recover for the final 6 games of the season, especially week 13, 14, and 15. Those 3 games are scheduled in a 12-day time frame against the rival Giants, Eagles, and Bears, oh my. 12 days for a team is tough enough, let alone a 34-year-old QB with another back issue.

With the loss of linebacker Justin Durant for the rest of the year, who’s rekindled his fire this season in this reborn defense, this team could be slumping in the second half of the season if they don’t play their cards right. Besides, Murray is in the final year of his deal, as is Dez Bryant, let them earn their money. Bryant might not have the same success with Weeden, but the O-line and Murray have racked up over 100 yards in every game. If anything, Weeden needs to manage and the defense needs to keep up their recent results.