Sullivan: Decision To Play Romo, Losing Durant Among Bald Head Thoughts

By Jeff Sullivan

The author of "America's Team: The Official History of the Dallas Cowboys," Sullivan also writes a new column in each issue of Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine. For subscription information, please click here.

  • This was one of those games that was even more frustrating to watch a second time. So many mistakes, so many "why aren't they doing this?" and then, of course, the Tony Romo injury/entry back into the game and Jerry Jones on the sidelines. The melodrama that often develops within a Cowboys game is fascinating and infuriating all at once.
  • Literally was shouting with a buddy on this yesterday, and it's one of those issues where everyone is going to have their own opinion and we need to agree to disagree. For me, if Romo is on the sidelines and is cleared to play medically, Jason Garrett has to put him back in the game. He's the starting quarterback; he's the $100 million franchise guy. And he's been playing at an incredibly high level since Week 2.
  • We all know how tough Romo is. Would put him among the four toughest quarterbacks I've seen play in my 32 years of watching the NFL, along with Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre and Steve Grogan.
  • It's admirable that Romo wanted to play. We've seen him previously try to take the field before being medically cleared. That wasn't the case this time around; just illustrates how much he wants the ball. When he separated his shoulder in 2010 and missed the remainder of the season, the first thing he asked the trainers on the field was whether the pass was complete. He's the ultimate gamer.
  • Would Brandon Weeden have been the better option late in the fourth considering Romo hadn't been on the field for 40 minutes of real time, or whatever it was? Maybe, I see that argument more and more in retrospect. But, Romo was cleared to play. It's not for Garrett to decipher just how healthy Romo is. He was cleared. It's his job. And Romo has led this team down the field dozens of times in the final two minutes.
  • As for what role Jones played in all of this, that's impossible to say. Here's the thing: Jerry isn't a doctor, so he didn't clear Romo. So I tend to believe Garrett that once the medical staff cleared Romo, the head coach wanted him on the field, so it doesn't really matter what Jones wanted.
  • Not everything is a conspiracy theory.
  • The bigger issue was losing a divisional home game to a team that hadn't won back-to-back games in two years and was starting its third-string quarterback. This was a bad loss. No way around that. Certainly not time for doom-and-gloom. No one expected this team to be 6-2 through eight games, and the Cowboys are favored this week against a gritty Arizona team with perpetually rebuilding Jacksonville on tap in London.
  • Never envisioned losing Justin Durant would be so devastating. Few outside of the coaching staff spent more time this offseason at Valley Ranch. Completely dedicated himself to having a career year, and sure enough he was named captain and was having a Pro Bowl-type season.
  • Two defensive players stood out watching the game a second time. J.J. Wilcox had far and away his best game in two seasons with the Cowboys. His first career interception was ridiculously athletic, the way he swung his other leg around, making sure it didn't hit the turf out of bounds. He covered so much ground on that throw, too. Wilcox hasn't been great this season, but he continues to improve, which is encouraging. He's still only played the position for about 30 games in his life.
  • The second player was Henry Melton, who tallied two sacks and a third tackle for loss in just 27 snaps. That gives him 12 hurries and 3.5 sacks on the season. And he still seems to be playing himself into football shape. Can't imagine him not returning in 2015.
  • OK, I'm not a football coach, but doesn't everyone in the league know Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett likes to blitz. Like, a lot. And after two sacks on third down, on bring-the-house blitzes, why isn't there protection tweaks being made? How about some halftime adjustments? Maybe a quick read, with Gavin Escobar or Cole Beasley out of the slot.
  • Watched each of the five sacks multiple times and couldn't find fault with any of the offensive linemen. Lance Dunbar and DeMarco Murray both missed blocks, and the other three the protection just wasn't there. Romo needed to make an immediate decision and didn't. They had to prepare for such instances during the week, right?
  • Escobar played just six snaps after three touchdown catches in two weeks. Puzzling.
  • Punter Chris Jones is having a nice season, significantly better than the last two. And his tackle on Andre Roberts on that first-quarter punt return was impressive. Even kind of tossed him at the end.
  • Much like in the preseason, Weeden gave every indication that he's comfortable in this offense and can make the throws needed when and if his number is called. That has to give his teammates confidence if Romo can't go, whether it be this week or later in the season.
  • Hard to fathom that former Cowboys backup quarterback Kyle Orton has won three of four starts for Buffalo. He has also compiled a 104.0 passer rating. Didn't see that coming. Thought he was done.
  • The game would have been completely different if not for DeMarco Murray's fumble. Could have led 14-3 going into halftime. He needs to be smart in those situations. No one is knocking him for trying to break tackles, but there's a time and place. Don't recall Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders trying to break a ton of gang tackles.
  • Win these next two and no one is talking about the Washington game entering the bye week. Bruce Arians is the most underappreciated elite head coach in the NFL, though, and the Cardinals are 13-3 in their last 16 games. Yes, 13-3.

Follow Jeff Sullivan on Twitter, @SullyBaldHead, or email him at jsullivan@dallascowboys.net.

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