By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
Tony Romo, sit down.
With their veteran quarterback practicing again and seemingly ready to return to play, the Dallas Cowboys are supposed to be facing a difficult decision … except they’re not. Because there is no decision.
Rookie Dak Prescott should remain the starter.
And here’s why: He’s hot, winning his last six starts, and he has the Cowboys on top of the NFC East. More than that, even when he is off – which is what he was for much of Sunday night’s game – he still is good enough to rally his team to a come-from-behind win and make out-of-pocket plays that Romo may not … and, more likely, cannot … at this stage of his career.
In short, he simply is a better choice.
He’s young. He’s mobile. He’s not an injury risk. And he seems to have energized the Cowboys, much as Tom Brady did in New England in 2001 when he took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe — with the Cowboys’ latest win the proof. Prescott never was better than when it mattered most – on a game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter and on the game-winning series in overtime.
He was 10-for-13 in those two drives, punctuating each with a touchdown pass.
Had he lost, of course, the temptation would be to turn to Romo … especially with winless Cleveland next up. But he didn’t lose, which is why the Cowboys shouldn’t budge. Prescott can run, he can pass and he can win. So do what is best and right for the team, Dallas, and stick with the winning hand.
Because this decision is no decision. It’s a no-brainer.
(Dak Prescott, Tony Romo photos courtesy of Dallas Cowboys)
RAIDER OPPONENTS DON’T KNOW JACK
Next time the conversation turns to mid-season Coach of the Year, here’s how to look smart: Nominate Jack Del Rio.
It’s not because he has the Raiders 6-2 and on top of the AFC West. It’s not because they’re 5-0 on the road, including three wins in the Eastern Time Zone, either. And it’s not because he’s turned the Raiders into one of the most entertaining teams anywhere.
Nope, its because the guy leads the league in courage, with guts the size of the Astrodome. No wonder owner Mark Davis wants to take the Raiders to Las Vegas. He has a head coach who likes to gamble … and who wins.
He demonstrated it in the season opener, turning down a chance to tie New Orleans at the gun by doing the predictable – kicking the extra point and sending the game into OT. And he won. A month later, he demonstrated it again by passing up a field goal on fourth-and-3 at the San Diego for 21 and gaining a Michael Crabtree touchdown in return. And he demonstrated it again Sunday, turning down a punt on fourth-and-4 at the Tampa Bay 41 in overtime to go for the victory.
Again he hit it big, this time with a Derek Carr-to-Seth Roberts touchdown pass.
When Del Rio took over the Raiders he promised to change the culture in Oakland, and it hasn’t taken long. Barring a complete collapse, they wind up with their first winning season since 2002. He has a franchise quarterback. He has a franchise wide receiver. He has a franchise pass rusher. And he has a courage of his convictions.
More important, he has the Raiders in the early playoff picture, and good for him. It’s not just good for Raiders Nation that their team is a factor again; it’s good for the entire NFL. Maybe now that Del Rio is beginning to raise the Titantic, he can perform the unimaginable … and raise the NFL’s TV ratings with it.
(Jack Del Rio photo courtesy of Oakland Raiders)
1. This is what Tom Brady means to New England. Without him, the Pats were 3-1, averaged 20 points a game and had four touchdown passes and no interceptions. With Brady, they’re 4-0, averaging 34 points a game, with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions. Maybe that’s why Rex Ryan said, “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him better.”
2. And then there’s this: Without Brady, the Pats were shut down by Buffalo, 16-0. With him, they put 41 on the Bills … in Buffalo … and with Brady sent to the sidelines with seven minutes left.
3. If there’s a soft spot with New England it’s the pass rush. The Pats have four sacks in the past three games.
4. Tampa Bay is no legit threat in the NFC South, and, yeah, I know, that’s not exactly a revelation. But here’s the latest proof: The Bucs gained an NFL-record 23 penalties for 200 yards from the Raiders, with two Sebastian Janikowski missed field goals thrown in … and still couldn’t win. Pathetic.
5. Not sure who deserved that game ball for Denver: Wade Phillips, the Broncos D or linebackers coach Reggie Herring, who filled in for Phillips. All I know is that … in Denver … the Next-Man-Up mantra applies as much to its coaches as it does its players.
6. I give up on Arizona. The Cards can’t throw the ball downfield, and I have zero faith in Carson Palmer in big games. Case in point: Sunday’s lopsided loss to Carolina, Arizona’s second to the Panthers in two years. Bad enough that it was Carolina’s first victory since Week 2; worse, the Panthers manhandled the Cards and Palmer, sacking him eight times and forcing two turnovers.
7. I give up on the NFC South, too, despite Houston’s fifth straight win at home. Reason: The Texans just aren’t very good, and neither is anyone in that division.
8. Reminder: Don’t lose sight of Kansas City in the AFC West. Nobody is paying attention the Chiefs, but they keep on winning – even without Alex Smith. Plus, there’s this: Their next three games are against, in order, Jacksonville, Carolina and Tampa Bay – opponents with a combined record of 7-11.
9. Consider that a monster win for Atlanta. On the verge of blowing a third-straight game by blowing a third-straight fourth-quarter lead, the Falcons relied on Matt Ryan to do what he does best – make big plays, and this time he did it without Julio Jones. On the game-winning drive, Ryan completed nine passes, but none to Jones.
10. Carolina’s Cam Newton says he will talk with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the hits he’s taking, and good luck. The commish is more interested in quarterbacks with a “general awareness” of deflated footballs.
11. So the TV ratings for Sunday night are in, and Game 5 of the World Series won decisively in a head-to-head battle with Sunday Night Football. Goodell can spin that story any way he wants, but he had a marquee game … with a marquee team (Dallas) … and it was hammered. What? Me worry? He should.
12. Once upon a time, Aaron Rodgers would have put that game away. Or would have pulled it out at the end. Not anymore. It is definitely NOT time to R-E-L-A-X in Green Bay.
13. Coming soon to Pay Per View: Bill O Brien-Larry Izzo.
14. The Bengals left London with more than a tie. They have Tyler Eifert back, with his 102 yards the evidence.
15. Please tell me Josh Norman didn’t blame his five penalties on the field judge. When coaches demand accountability, this isn’t what they have in mind.
16. There are a lot of things to like about Rob Gronkowski, including a Patriots’ record for touchdown catches, but this is what gets my attention: As a tight end, he averages … averages … 22 yards per catch this year.
17. In case you missed it, we have Alex Smith’s wife complaining about hits to her husband, alleging a conspiracy (among officials, I presume) that’s taking place. So now the question: Who’s first into the commissioner’s office: Mrs. Smith or Mr. Newton?
18. The NFL uses the term “clear-and-obvious” to overturn calls on the field. Too bad it didn’t apply it to Josh Brown.
19. I’m sorry, but Russell Wilson is not the same quarterback, and blame it on injuries, the absence of Marshawn Lynch, I don’t care. But he’s not the same.
20. Halfway through the season, NFL Network analyst Brian Billick looks like a genius. He’s the guy who predicted Cleveland wouldn’t win a game. I’m calling him next time I play the lottery.
WHAT WE LEARNED …
Derek Carr should be in the discussion for mid-season MVP.
The AFC East race … if you can call it that … is over.
The Jets should rely more on Matt Forte’s legs than Ryan Fitzpatrick’s arm.
Jim Caldwell should not lose his realtor’s phone number.
Even when Dak Prescott isn’t so good, he’s good enough to win.
Revis Island is off the radar.
.. AND WHAT WE DIDN’T
When we gain a pulse from the Colts.
Who’s going to push New England in the AFC. Or is that … the NFL?
What was up with that gawd-awful coat Tom Brady wore after Sunday’s game.
When Trevor Siemian hits the wall. He is better … much better … than expected.
If Josh Norman gets fined for his shredding of refs. I say he does.
SUNDAY’S HALL OF FAMER
Oakland QB Derek Carr. He throws for a franchise-record 513 yards. He completes 40 of 59 passes. He has four touchdowns. And he leads the Raiders to another come-from-behind victory and their fifth straight road victory. Blake Bortles was the first quarterback taken in the 2014 draft. Johnny Manziel was the second, Teddy Bridgewater was the third … and Derek the Carr is the best.
SUNDAY’S HALL OF SHAMER
San Diego coach Mike McCoy. He’s such an easy target, so take aim … again. I just don’t get how you don’t dial Melvin Gordon’s number once when you’re down eight with three minutes left and it’s first and goal at the Denver 2. There was plenty of time. Gordon was on a tear, rushing for 111 yards. And Denver was playing the pass. Stupid is as stupid does, and this, people, was a stupid way to burn out.