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Cowboys plan at backup QB is a little confusing...

August 07, 2016 08:33AM

OXNARD, Calif. -- Confused by the Dallas Cowboys' backup quarterback plan? It’s OK. You should be.

In January, finding a backup to Tony Romo was a high priority, especially after their 1-11 record without Romo in 2015. Free agency came and went with the Cowboys unwilling to pay what it took to land Chase Daniel or any other available veteran. They visited with Matt Moore, but he opted to remain with the Miami Dolphins.

In the draft, the Cowboys thought about trading back into the first round to select Paxton Lynch but were not willing to part with their second- and third-round picks, which is the same price they gave up to select defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence in the second round in 2014. The Denver Broncos made the move for Lynch.

The Cowboys consistently professed their faith in Kellen Moore, but when he suffered a broken fibula Tuesday, they were left scrambling again. They had conversations with the agent for Nick Foles, but he opted to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs to reunite with his first coach, Andy Reid.

Now the Cowboys have slowed their pace in the quest to find Romo’s replacement.

So in March and April, when there was a larger pool of players available, the Cowboys placed a high priority on the position and used a fourth-round pick on Dak Prescott. In early August, with a limited number of quarterbacks available, the Cowboys are playing the waiting game.

“What you’re seeing is that we really have what we think is an opportunity,” said owner and general manager Jerry Jones. “We’ve seen enough and it makes sense. We don’t have to be and shouldn’t be as urgent as it might look like. We don’t know that we are void on campus at the backup at all.”

Perhaps Jones is saying that in hopes of seeing the asking price go down for Cleveland Browns backup Josh McCown. Perhaps he really means it.

But this is the hand the Cowboys are now playing.

“For now, we’re going to give Dak Prescott and Jameill Showers more work,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We’re always looking to improve our team. There are guys we have targeted at this position and other positions. We’ll continue to do that, but we’re excited to give the guys we have in camp an opportunity right now.”

The last time the Cowboys were this inexperienced at backup quarterback was in 2004, after they released Quincy Carter in training camp. Vinny Testaverde was the starter and his backups were Drew Henson and Romo, who was entering his second season after not playing a snap as a rookie.

Showers spent most of last season on the Cowboys’ practice squad, and he played other positions than just quarterback. He was a special-teamer and ran some routes on the scout team.

And yet the Cowboys wait. Jones cited Bernie Kosar and Matt Cassel as examples of finding veteran quarterbacks later. Kosar signed with the Cowboys in November 1993 amid a true emergency situation in their second Super Bowl season of the Jones era. Last year, the Cowboys traded with the Buffalo Bills in Week 2 for Cassel.

Using Cassel as an example doesn’t help Jones’ case. The Cowboys were 1-6 in Cassel’s starts. He had five touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He had three starts with less than 200 yards passing. Cassel could not quite figure out what the coaches wanted, and the coaches could never quite figure out what Cassel could do best.

That was after they released Brandon Weeden, who lost three starts after Romo went down with a broken collarbone.

Finding a veteran backup is important, so he would have time to learn the system, the pass-catchers, the offensive line and the running backs. And it’s important because the coaches would be able to teach the quarterback.

In 2004, Testaverde turned 41. He played in every game, starting 15. Henson started on Thanksgiving and lasted just one half. Romo is 36 and has not played a full season since 2012, missing one game in 2013 and one in 2014 before missing 12 in 2015.

Maybe he can do what Testaverde did, but for now, the Cowboys wait.

“This process is 365 days out of the year. It’s every position on our team and there are so many discussions that we have about players, players on our team, players on other teams that go on all day long, all week long, all month and all year long leading up the draft, after the draft, through free agency, during this time of year,” Garrett said. “We’re bringing guys in. We’re evaluating guys. So it’s not like, ‘OK we targeted these three guys ...’

"We’ve been targeting guys, talking to guys, discussing guys who fits, who doesn’t fit, what makes sense for us when, so those discussions go on all the time and oftentimes things work out the way you want to; sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, it’s best they don’t work out a certain way and you quickly move on to what the next discussion is and how you can make your team better.”

  Cowboys plan at backup QB is a little confusing...

Rams43590August 07, 2016 08:33AM