IRVING, Texas – At some point during the Cowboys' six-game losing streak, you've no doubt heard this line of logic:
If the Cowboys are too far behind in the division race by the time Tony Romo returns from his broken collarbone, it makes sense to hold him out. It doesn't make sense to risk the health of a 35-year-old quarterback on a lost season, and it can only hurt the Cowboys' draft positioning.
That argument is only going to get louder if the Cowboys continue to lose, but team owner/general manager Jerry Jones didn't want to hear it. On Tuesday morning, he was asked about the possibility of sitting Romo, and he said as much.
"Not at all. When he gets on the field against Miami -- and it most assuredly will be at this juncture -- there's no set of circumstances that we wouldn't play him and play him with hopes of winning that game and winning the rest of the ballgames," Jones said.
Romo is eligible to return Nov. 22 when the Cowboys travel to play the Dolphins, and Jones has said several times that the Pro Bowler should be ready to go for that game.
If that's the case, it makes since that Jones would be reluctant to call the season a wash. Even if they fail to get a win this weekend in Tampa, the Cowboys have at least an opportunity – albeit a slim one – to finish the season with a winning record. As many have pointed out over the last two months, a 9-7 or even an 8-8 might be good enough to win the turbulent NFC East.
"I think not only our game but sports in general, if you've got an opportunity, if you got a chance to win this thing, then you take it," Jones said. "I know I'm talking in generalities, but specifically, we have a team that could really, from the standpoint of the personnel that's on the field, really be a top team as we get into the last half of this season. We want to show our fans that."
Of course, there's no denying that the Cowboys have squandered several chances to improve their playoff odds. Sunday's 33-27 loss to Philadelphia was their fourth loss by seven or fewer points during this winless streak. Had they won two, or even one of those games, their positioning within the division race would be much more favorable as Romo prepares to return.
Jones acknowledged that he's done a lot of math in recent weeks – calculating odds and trying to project the rest of the season. For the time being, though, he said the focus has to remain on the present before turning toward the future.
"Your players are aware, but they are focused on the preparation for Tampa in this case," he said. "But certainly to the extent that we know if we won out or win a significant part of these games, we know that the same things have impacted us could impact any of these teams ahead of us.
"But all of that is conjecture. You know, teams have injuries. Teams have various challenges along the way and that could happen to anybody that's ahead of you right now, New York or some of those. And they could start playing at a level that gives us a shot."