IRVING, Texas – It's hard to say what the future holds for the Cowboys' prospects at the quarterback position.
Tony Romo remains the first option and will reprise his starting role when the cycle starts over in 2016 – that's a given. But, as no one needs reminding, the team's struggles while Romo has been injured this season have raised a lot of questions about depth at the position going forward.
At the very least, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Kellen Moore's opportunity to start this weekend in Buffalo can begin to answer some of those questions.
"We will have the opportunity for him to get in and get this experience, and that'll help us," Jones said on Tuesday morning. "That'll help us as far as what direction we decide to go relative to backup quarterback."
On Sunday, Moore will become the fourth quarterback to start for the Cowboys after a relief appearance last weekend against the Jets. He threw three interceptions, but he completed 60 percent of his passes for 158 yards and a touchdown – the first Cowboys passing touchdown since Thanksgiving.
Jones said the trip to Buffalo won't serve so much as an audition, but a chance to evaluate Moore and the offense in a full game.
"I'm not for sure how we will approach this thing – ultimately, what it ends up being next year. On the other hand, I do consider these next two games, not an audition for him, but just an opportunity for our entire team to play around his skillset," he said. "This is a different situation, because he is very familiar with this offense. He's a player that will not make the same mistake too many times."
Of course, the fact that Moore is the third quarterback to start behind Romo only emphasizes how ineffective the Cowboys' backups have been this season. The team's initial backup, Brandon Weeden, went 0-3 before losing the starting job, and Matt Cassel posted a 1-6 mark before being replaced by Moore.
That fact is well-documented, and Jones once again took responsibility for mismanaging the backup situation in the event that Romo was injured.
"We should be criticized. We didn't get it right," he said. "We thought that Weeden was on the come, he had shown us some good things, he certainly had the arm talent. But we had thought we had seen enough from him that, should he be needed for either a short stint or an extended period of time, that he could carry the day."
Instead, the Cowboys find themselves needing to re-evaluate the position as they enter the offseason. Romo figures to be perfectly healthy by the time spring practices begin, but this season has offered a glimpse of the deficiencies behind him – not just in the event of an injury, but for the approaching future after he retires.
As has been the case several times this season, Jones referenced back to the 2013 NFL Draft, when the Cowboys had the opportunity to draft Johnny Manziel but opted to pick Zack Martin. Jones wasn't interested in talking draft strategy five months before the fact, but he acknowledged that the quarterback situation is something he'll have to consider.
"There's no doubt, when a top player on your board – and he was certainly there in our top five or six players," he said of Manziel. "When he drops down there and you're drafting in the 20's or someplace in that range and you're in our situation, you have to look at our quarterback league."
Those are questions that will await once the season ends. For the time being, the Cowboys have a chance to get some answers in these next two weeks.