MOBILE, Ala. – There are any number of problems one can point to in explaining the frustration of the Cowboys' 2015 season. Asked for his thoughts on the matter, team executive vice president Stephen Jones zeroed in on one.
"I think the thing we still keep going back to is we've got to have a better solution and a better answer, if something happens to Tony, that'll give us a chance to win football games and be more competitive than we were," Jones said on Tuesday evening.
That might be stating the obvious a bit for those that watched the season unfold. In the 12 games that Tony Romo missed due to injury, the Cowboys tallied just 11 touchdown passes – three of which came in the season finale. The inability to successfully replace Romo was the story of a disappointing season.
Jones was quick to point out that few NFL squads can hope for much success without their starting quarterback – though they can certainly hope for better than the Cowboys' 1-11 record without Romo in the lineup.
"You look at what's in the playoffs and who's in the final four and who was in the final eight, you don't see a lot of people in there with their backup quarterbacks in there really making significant differences in the playoffs," Jones said. "But what I do think we should be able to do is play better football than we played this year."
Questions about quarterbacks are understandable, given the talent the Cowboys are coaching – and Jones is watching – from the Senior Bowl this week. Tuesday marked the Cowboys coaches' first opportunity to work with North Dakota State standout Carson Wentz, who is arguably the most high-profile player at this week's game.
"We're just getting to know him," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "I thought he handled himself well. Picked himself up well. 0ne day into it, I think he and all the quarterbacks did a good job picking things up. It's fun to see him play."
Wentz is entering the draft from the FCS level, but his stellar career at North Dakota State – not to mention his 6-5, 232-pound frame and his massive arm strength – have generated plenty of buzz. The hype around the quarterback has already reached impressive levels this week in Mobile, though the Cowboys are careful not to buy into it so soon.
"Like I said, it's too early for us to tell where we may ultimately decide where he should be picked," Jones said. "He's one of many guys that we'll be looking at. He's certainly done a lot in a short period of time. You've got to give him credit."[embeddedad0]
It'll take time before anyone can tell if Wentz is worthy of the No. 4 overall pick. Jones also didn't limit himself to the first round, as he factored the later rounds of the draft -- not to mention free agency -- in the quarterback equation. It's also worth mentioning that Wentz won't be the only quarterback analyzed as the draft process carries on during the spring.
Needless to say, the draft grades might not be established, but this certainly isn't a thought that's far from the Cowboys' minds.
"I think everybody agrees, if the right guy is there then you got to take a long, hard look at it," Jones said. "That's why we're sitting here today, our coaching staff, working hard at it."