FRISCO, Texas – It's been a topic of much discussion for about a week, ever since the Cowboys locked up the NFC East last Thursday.
How exactly should this team handle its quarterback situation in Week 17, in a game that can neither help nor hurt them in the standings? The Cowboys obviously have a competent starter in Dak Prescott. They also have an experienced starter in Mark Sanchez, who has taken limited snaps on one occasion this season.
And then there's Tony Romo, who has been a constant presence this season since his injury in August – though he has yet to take a snap since returning from his broken vertebrae in November.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has declined to speculate on how he will handle his quarterbacks this weekend. But the staff of DallasCowboys.com couldn't help but wonder: if it were up to them, what would they do?
Rob Phillips: I know some observers believe Tony Romo needs game reps in case he's needed in the playoffs, the logic being that he only appeared in four games last year, finishing two starts. I also think Dak Prescott needs to keep playing, keep getting experience as the starting quarterback of this team. The playoff bye week in itself is a long time off, and rust can accumulate. That said, I don't think it's ideal for either player Sunday if the offensive line is depleted (Tyron Smith and Ronald Leary haven't practiced this week). Jason Garrett didn't ask our opinion, of course, but I would start Prescott as usual and try to put a couple of strong drives together, then have Mark Sanchez ready to take over at some point against the Eagles.
David Helman:You can go back in this website's archives and find stories where I argued for Tony Romo to play. Even with Dak Prescott playing well all season, I thought the Cowboys would be well-served to figure out what Romo had to offer – if not as the starting quarterback, then as a potential option for an offseason trade. But I honestly feel like that ship has sailed by Week 17. The Cowboys have locked this thing up, and I'm not sure what there is to gain by playing Romo in the second half of a meaningless game. It's not going to change anyone's opinion of his ability, and I honestly don't think it'll make much difference in getting him ready. It also might get him hurt. On top of that, you run the risk of creating a distraction if he lights the Eagles up. There was a window to give Romo some game action, but it has closed. If it were up to me, I'd leave Romo in street clothes this weekend and give Sanchez the backup reps. I have every confidence that, even with game reps, Romo will be ready to go if the Cowboys need him in the playoffs.
Nick Eatman:I know I'm in the minority on this, not only among these guys but a lot of Cowboys fans. But I think it's crazy not to play Tony Romo this weekend. To me, I'm starting Dak and letting him play a quarter. But Romo should then come in and play this game. He's the backup quarterback. They've made that very clear. He's the backup! Why are they protecting their backup quarterback, who has missed a full calendar year of football? Are they counting on him to save the day in the playoffs even though he's never taken more than a handful of snaps since last year? What if it was the other way around? If Romo had returned as the starter but didn't play this weekend, don't you think Dak would get some reps? Of course he would, because he's the backup. He's the one who is one snap away from having to play. Yet, the Cowboys don't want to give that guy one snap in a real game because he might get hurt? Whatever it is, it doesn't make sense to me. And if the reason for not playing him is because Emmett Cleary is the left tackle, then that guy doesn't need to be on the team at all. Let's not forget he's one play away from having to play in any game. And let's not forget Romo has played behind a ton of bad linemen over the years, as well. To me, Romo plays the final three quarters to get him ready for the possibility of playing in the playoffs.
Bryan Broaddus:First off, I am not asking Tony Romo to play in a meaningless game during the regular season - rust or not. With that being said, I am not playing Dak Prescott as well due to my starting offensive line not being intact. No Tyron Smith and potentially no Ronald Leary who is missing practices with back issues - no thanks. There is likelihood that Romo is done with the club in 2017 so I am taking this time to evaluate Mark Sanchez for that backup quarterback spot next season. Let's see if Sanchez can in fact move the team under a difficult situation. He might surprise you.