FRISCO, Texas – All of a sudden, the wait for Tony Romo to recover doesn't feel so agonizing.
That's been the overriding reaction to the Cowboys' current two-game winning streak, especially when visiting the team's postgame locker rooms. On one hand, things feel quite similar to 2015 – a talented team relying on a backup quarterback to hold the fort until Romo can return from a lengthy injury.
On the other hand, it's obviously the polar opposite. The Cowboys are winning games and doing so in convincing fashion. Sunday's 31-17 win against Chicago was the second of Dak Prescott's career, which gives him more wins so far this season than all three of Romo's backups managed last year.
That simple fact gives cause for hope that the season won't be lost when Romo returns – and that's not lost on Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
"We're different than we were last year," Jones said. "But the two guys that were pump-fisting in the training room a minute ago was me and Romo – because we're getting some wins in that win column, so when he gets back we won't be looking uphill at it as much as we experienced last year."
It's still early in the season, so it'd be a mistake to speak too soon. The Cowboys are looking at a West Coast road trip this weekend, followed by back-to-back games against 2015 playoff teams in Cincinnati and Green Bay.
Despite that, it's far easier to imagine the Cowboys possessing a manageable record this year when Romo comes back – whenever that happens to be. Jones didn't have any new information on Romo's potential timetable for return. It's often speculated that the 36-year-old quarterback could be ready following the Oct. 23 bye week.
Jones would only say that Romo will come back when he's cleared of any risk of re-aggravating his fractured vertebrae. With Romo now entering his fifth week since the injury, Jones sounded optimistic that might not be far away.
"We want to make sure that he's risk-free from anything permanent. That should be relatively soon," he said. "And that's it. From that point forward, it's just how he's functioning and how he feels. But first and the most important thing is, is he risk-free as to this particular function – as to any long-term injury."
As much as Jones would like to have Romo back, though, it's undoubtedly a stark contrast between this season and last. Even if the Cowboys don't win another game before their bye week, they'd still be within striking distance of .500 when Romo starts preparing to return – which is a far cry from 2015.
And if Prescott can deliver some more wins instead? Well, that would've sounded unfathomable at this time last year.
"I just think that you couldn't have a team be in better shape in the NFL than if you had a serious luxury of having two quarterbacks that you could really be successful with," Jones said.
That simple fact, Jones acknowledged, means the Cowboys don't have to fret about rushing Romo back to the playing field too soon. With the confidence that Prescott can deliver them wins, the Cowboys have another luxury that isn't often seen in the world of the NFL – patience.
"Those wins will give you a little more conservative timeframe if you looked at Tony's condition," Jones said. "Under no circumstances would he go out there if there was risk -- let's get that real straight. But as far as the ability to give him more time, medicine wants more time, and they'll tell you, well, he'll be better off two months from now than he is today."