Sullivan: Seeing What Romo's Got & Numbers Don't Matter Among Thoughts

Some of the thoughts that run through an oversized, bald head:

  • The narrative of Sunday's finale at Philly certainly changed with news of Tony Romo playing. Can't imagine him taking more than a few series, but as with anything, Jason Garrett certainly isn't going to let anyone know what the plan is before it actually takes place on the field. Is there a more secretive profession than head football coach? It's nothing like other sports, either, where, say, a baseball lineup is posted several hours before the first pitch and basketball teams are running mostly the same offense and defense throughout the season.

My guess is that Garrett wants to see what he has in Romo. As a head coach, why wouldn't he? If he looks rusty, sure, it could affect his trade value in the offseason, but that's the last thing on Garrett's mind right now. He needs to know who his best backup quarterback is entering the playoffs. Romo has looked like his old self in practice by all accounts, but that's obviously a whole new ballgame compared to 11 dudes trying to hit you on Sunday.

  • Been reading this week about the Cowboys wanting Dak Prescott to set the record for most wins by a rookie quarterback, then there's Ezekiel Elliott in pursuit of Eric Dickerson's first-year rushing mark and, of course, no team in franchise history has won 14 games. Guess what? None of that matters. The focus of the front office, Garrett, the coaching staff and the players is winning a championship. It's kind of like having a steak dinner at your favorite restaurant. If they bring out a salad to start, sure, you're going to eat it, but that's not why your there.

Was talking with Zeke last month and he had a great quote on this: "I don't think it's really healthy to be mesmerized by numbers and records, consumed by winning awards and that stuff, I really don't. It's a team sport and you aren't remembered for your numbers. You're remembered by how many championships you won. You win a few championships, you've had a memorable career at that point. … No one remembers how many yards I rushed for in the championship game when I was at Ohio State, but they know we won, and I'm a champion. They remember that. We win a Super Bowl, I promise you the fans, the media, they will remember that."

  • As for what to expect with the lineup/playing time on Sunday, my best guess is it's going to be similar to a third preseason game. If the player is healthy, and we're talking as healthy as any player can be in Week 17, they will start, play some series, maybe even the entire first half. If a guy has a tweak, sprain, anything beyond wear and tear, they aren't playing. The only difference to keep in mind is the roster. A head coach has 90 guys for that third preseason game and with the three quarterbacks all active, minus Dan Bailey, Chris Jones and L.P. Ladouceur, he'll have 40. Big difference.
  • Someone asked me who the worse-case scenario would be injury-wise on Sunday. This is one of those where it's impossible to argue with several answers. My first instinct was Zeke, then Sean Lee was mentioned, and that makes sense, too. Zack Martin and Dez Bryant also have to be in the discussion. Know who would be pretty high on my list as well? David Irving. My pick for breakout player of the year the first week of training camp has finally put back-to-back performances together and appears headed for stardom. In the last two weeks, he has 16 QB pressures, eight QB hits and three sacks.
  • The only three NFL teams with more than 50 starts by rookies this season are Cleveland (67), Chicago (62) and Dallas (51). The Browns and Bears are a combined 4-26. That's mind-boggling. And these have been world-class starts for the Cowboys as well: Zeke and Dak in the mix for NFL MVP, Anthony Brown the highest-rated cornerback on the team the last two months and Maliek Collins leading all rookie defensive tackles with 5.0 sacks. Along with the Bears' Leonard Floyd, Collins is also one of two rookies with at least five sacks, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.

And Stephen Jones told me last week that the team expects second-round pick Jaylon Smith to be 100 percent for the start of training camp. He was fifth on the Cowboys' original draft board before his knee injury in Notre Dame's bowl game last year. Just incredible to think about this draft class and what they could be going forward, never mind just this season.

  • Found it amusing that some people were asking if Dez was left-handed. As if Garrett, who has stayed away from what Tom Landry called "exotic plays" for years, would call for him to throw a pass with his weak arm. This was enjoyable for me since I've been begging for a Dez pass for several years. I've even asked Garrett about it multiple times. From the moment Dallas drafted him to here and now, Dez has had the strongest arm on the team.

Also saw that it was the first left-handed touchdown pass thrown in the NFL since Kellen Moore tossed one to Cole Beasley in the fourth quarter of last season's finale against Washington. The last non-Cowboys southpaw to throw a touchdown pass was Michael Vick earlier in 2015. What in the name of Boomer Esiason and Steve Young is going on with this? Maybe they are focusing on baseball careers, thinking left-handed pitchers have a better chance of being drafted or landing a scholarship. Just a guess.

  • Was looking back on my NFL predictions column from the preseason, and did pretty well this year. Had the Cowboys and Giants making the playoffs, had Zeke averaging more than five yards per carry, Jack Del Rio Coach of the Year with the Raiders being the league's surprise team, Jordy Nelson Comeback Player of the Year. Had Pittsburgh beating Seattle in the Super Bowl, but for my playoff preview this week in Star Magazine, I tweaked that to Cowboys beating the Steelers. Yes, all-in.
  • Entering Week 17, five teams haven't scored 30 points in a game this season. Amazingly, two of them are headed to the playoffs: the Texans and Giants. The other three are San Francisco, Cleveland and Chicago, who have six wins between them. In their last last four outings, the Giants are averaging 15.0 points per game. And all of us thought the offense would be New York's strength.
  • Still think the Cowboys win on Sunday, but honestly, 13-3, 14-2, this season is only going to be remembered decades from now for what takes place in January. Just hoping to avoid any injuries. As for who they play in the divisional round, it is what it is, be it the Giants, the Packers or the Seahawks. There are no easy paths to immortality.

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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