ARLINGTON, Texas – Honestly, this article was planned out long before the final outcome of the matchup with the Texas Thursday – a night that mercifully ended a five-game preseason schedule.
So it's not actually news-breaking at this point, considering the Cowboys barely did anything on offense in this 24-6 loss to Houston.
But the Cowboys don't need three quarterbacks on the roster.
They might have found a way to do that if they had three quarterbacks worth keeping. But right now, they don't.
Alex Tanney got all but one series Thursday night – a golden opportunity to showcase his skills. He had the chance to prove he could orchestrate drives, throw the ball on the run and make plays in and out of the pocket.
Plain and simple, Tanney had nearly four quarters to prove he needed to be on this 53-man roster.
At some point, he might be on this team. Right now, the Cowboys simply can't afford to keep him. With the offensive line injuries, they need to go longer with guards and centers. They likely need to keep more safeties than normal and keeping a sixth receiver or a fifth tight end is actually more of a debate than keeping a third quarterback.
You know, we've seen this before.
Just three years ago, the Cowboys were in this same situation going into this very game – the fifth and final preseason contest against Miami. Heading into the game, it seemed like Stephen McGee was on the outside looking in, in terms of making the 53-man roster. He needed a great game to basically save his roster spot – and he delivered. Not only did he lead the Cowboys to a win, but he threw for 304 yards and a touchdown.
Tanney needed that performance Thursday night. Needless to say it didn't happen. Was it all his fault? Not at all, considering the second-team offensive line might have been the worst-looking group the Cowboys have thrown out there in several years. But then again, if you're worried about the first-team line, certainly the second group is going to struggle.
But back to Tanney, who was 17 of 31 for 177 yards and one interception (58.1 QB rating). This was his moment to shine. Instead, he was on his back most of the night, getting sacked seven times, although it felt like 22 times with that dreadful final drive in the fourth quarter.
It was 10 years ago when Tony Romo was pretty much in the same situation. Only that year, Romo and Clint Stoerner were battling for the No. 3 spot. Romo fired a 60-yard touchdown to Randal Williams and that was just enough to prove he had potential and was worth keeping. We all know what happened next.
And yes, I might have been the first one to say this early in training camp, but Tanney does remind me of a YOUNG Romo. Not the Romo that has started for this team since 2006. But the young, athletic, live-arm thrower who really doesn't know everything there is to know but is just out there slinging it. That's the Romo I remembered 10 years ago and I've seen Tanney flash the same type of skills.
Obviously, keeping Romo was the right call. But right now, it's not something the Cowboys should do.
For every Romo, there's a Matt Baker, Matt Moore, Jeff Mroz, Nick Stephens or Dalton Williams. Earlier this week, a reporter asked Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones if the club had learned its lesson by cutting Moore back in 2007. Jones was quick to reply with some honesty, pointing out that Moore not only has been a so-so quarterback on a so-so team, but he wouldn't have ever played over Tony Romo.
I think Tanney should be one of the 22 cuts the Cowboys make Saturday afternoon to get down to 53 players. Certainly, he's good enough to bring back to the practice squad. And he'd be a good scout team quarterback because not only does he give you a strong arm in the pocket, but he's also athletic enough to at least run the zone-read stuff that they'll see a few times this year. No, I'm not saying he's quick like Robert Griffin III or Michael Vick, but he's a lot closer to that than Kyle Orton.
The point is, there will be other Alex Tanneys out there.
If, and it's a pretty big if after this performance, Tanney gets claimed by another team that wants to put him on the 53-man roster, the Cowboys will be fine. I really don't see any NFL team deciding Tanney is good enough for their squad.
Maybe that's the silver lining in Thursday's night game. Tanney likely will get cut but his performance here probably doesn't have any team foaming at the mouth to sign him. [embedded_ad]
I hope this doesn't come across as a rip-job toward Tanney. I actually like his potential. I think he's got a nice arm, good awareness in the pocket, quick feet and he's got that moxie that all good quarterbacks must have.
And obviously he's got good accuracy or he wouldn't have a YouTube video on his trick-shot passes. But he certainly wasn't filming that video with a pass rush in his face. It makes a difference.
I think Alex Tanney should and will be with the Cowboys next week. But it'll likely be on the practice squad. And if he doesn't make it, the Cowboys can't worry about it.
They can sign another Alex Tanney – because they're definitely out there.