Sullivan: Romo Will Return to Lineup When Healthy … And He Should

First and foremost, I really wanted to avoid this topic until next week. Alas, the world in which we now exist has made that impossible.

The fog, the haze and the smog, it's been all that. The befuddlement, the bewilderment and my brain just playing a game of ping pong, back and forth, back and forth. Romo or Dak. Prescott or Tony. And there were days the last few weeks when I thought, yeah, maybe just stick with the kid, see where this improbable winning run takes us.

Not going to bury the lede here: The megawatt "increase those sports-talk radio ratings and website hits" quarterback controversy of a lifetime that seemingly has been simmering in the witches' brew for about a month now? Well, here's the thing.

It doesn't exist. And from what I've heard, it never existed. It's been Tony Romo's job all along, waiting for him with open arms when his health cooperates. And I think that's the logical call, too.

I was blinded by the 4-1 start myself. This is one of those instances that it's important to understand that those of us writing and covering sports, we're just like those of you with other jobs watching and listening to sports. We're just as prone to miss the obvious as anyone else.

There is no quarterback controversy. At least not here and now. When Romo is healthy and ready to take those snaps, which barring any setbacks I think is looking more and more like Week 9 against an easier Cleveland opponent, he's going to be the starter. He is. It would be disingenuous to say the decision has already been made because there was never a decision to make.

Prescott can lead the Cowboys to wins at Green Bay and against Philadelphia, he can throw for 700 yards and five touchdowns in the process, he can turn water into wine and write the sequel for Hamilton in his spare time, and even then, he's going to be on the sidelines when Romo is ready to play.

[embeddedad0]And this makes sense. It does. For whatever reason, quarterback controversies make us irrational. It's a lot like political competitions. Honestly, when was the last time someone said they loved both candidates in any election, and wished they could vote for both. There is no juicer story in sports than a quarterback debate. Everyone has an opinion.

The misconception by some here is that this situation is Tony Romo vs. Dak Prescott. It's really not. It's entirely OK to be a fan of both. It's entirely OK to say, "You know what? Romo has been incredible the last decade (and it will be exactly a decade since he entered that Monday Night Football game against the Giants at halftime on Oct. 23, 2006), and he's better for this offense if he's healthy this season." Also, it's OK to say, "Dak is the future. He's the franchise quarterback of the next decade."

Maybe that starts in November if Romo suffers another injury. Maybe it's next season from the get-go of training camp if Romo retires after winning a Super Bowl. Who knows? There are so many variables here that it's ridiculous to try to predict the future beyond the fact that Romo, barring a setback, is going to once again be the starting quarterback of the Cowboys.

The comparison everyone has been talking about, really since before the season opener, is Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe in 2001. But there are significant differences.

Brady was in his second season, having had nearly 18 months to digest the playbook. His offensive coordinator at the time, Charlie Weis, has said that Brady knew the offense as well as Bledsoe by the conclusion of that preseason. It's been reported that head coach Bill Belichick almost named Brady the starter at that point, before the injury Bledsoe suffered in Week 2 vs. the Jets. If Romo was healthy, there was zero competition, zero debate. Heck, Prescott wasn't even the backup until Kellen Moore went down at training camp.

Also, and again I hate to keep repeating this, but I'm a huge Dak fan. Think he's going to have a hugely successful run in this league. He has impressed me across the board since that first drive of the preseason. That said, the Cowboys have been winning because of the superb play of the offensive line, the old-school ground and pound and a surprisingly solid defense.

Yes, Prescott deserves some of the credit, too, especially for the limited turnovers, just one in five games is almost non-human for a rookie. Still, the Cowboys are also tied with the Rams for fewest touchdown passes in the NFL with four. They are tied for 26th with the fewest 20-plus yard passes and are tied for second-fewest 40-plus yard passes.

And yes, Dak has made a few plays with his legs, rushed for three touchdowns, but he's not exactly Steve Young or Michael Vick out there. In fact, he ranks 12th among quarterbacks with 61 rushing yards.

The Cowboys have done a masterful job of limiting the chances Prescott is taking downfield. They aren't running the entire playbook either, as the Patriots were doing with Brady, who threw 16 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in the nine games before Bledsoe was deemed ready to return and Belichick decided to stick with Brady. Also, the Pats were 6-3 in those games with Brady. In Bledsoe's previous 26 starts, New England was 7-19.

That's also not the case with Romo. The Cowboys are 15-3 in his last 18 regular-season starts. Again, 18-3. It's hard to bench a guy who has won 86 percent of his starts the last few years.

Again, this should all be the greatest news possible for Cowboys fans. Sing, dance and be merry. If the Romo from 2014 returns in a few weeks, the guy who finished second in the NFL MVP voting, then wow, with this team, are you kidding me? Dallas is a Super Bowl contender, maybe the NFC favorite.

And there's Prescott, ready to step in if need be, proven, confident, and he's only going to improve. For the first time in forever, the Cowboys have their quarterback of the present and the future.

Check out Jeff Sullivan's column each week in Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine. Find out more at DallasCowboys.com/star. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter, @SullyBaldHead, or email him at jsullivan@dallascowboys.net.

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