Here with a different point of view is Mr. Irrelevant Caps and Terps correspondent Brad Parker, who — *gasp* — doubles as a Cowboys fan.
I’m not that guy you hate. You know, the one that can’t find Dallas on a map but still roots for the Cowboys. You’ll probably still hate me but at least I was born in Fort Worth and have been to many a Thanksgiving game in person. So yes, I live in the D.C. area, and I love the Dallas Cowboys.
I also love Tony Romo. As soon as I heard the news Monday the Kubler-Ross stages of grief hit the ground running. Depression took a little more time than the rest, but I still got to acceptance in record speed.
Then something came out of nowhere. Looking forward to another winner-take-all Week 17 game it dawned on me: Dallas fans need the Cowboys to lose. I’m not talking about fantanking, actively rooting against my favorite team hoping for a better draft pick. (No matter which pick we end up with Jerry Jones will make the selection; the guy he takes at 20 could be the exact same guy he’d take at 11.)
Dallas fans need the Cowboys to lose for one simple reason: If Kyle Orton wins where Romo has lost before, I can’t even begin to imagine what would happen to the narrative.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m still a Cowboys fan. Despite the rivalry with the Washington football team, there’s not a team I hate more than the Eagles (still holding a grudge from the Buddy Ryan/Bounty Bowl days). I’m just afraid the joy of winning would be fleeting and short-sighted.
A loss would mean another Week 17 disappointment and offseason of questions. But it would also mean that a coach that often uses his Ivy League brain to outsmart himself could be gone. A play-caller that refuses to run with a 23-point lead at home would likely be gone. A coordinator running the worst defense in the league, if not NFL history, would definitely be gone.
Here’s how bad that defense is:
— Five QBs have thrown for 400-plus yards against Dallas this year.
— The Bears and the Broncos didn’t punt against Dallas. NOT ONCE.
— The Saints got 40 first downs against Dallas. In one game!
— If Dallas played Detroit two more times this year and held Calvin Johnson to one yard, he would still average 110 yards/game against the Cowboys this year.
— The Cowboys forced Washington to punt with 3:47 to go in the game on Sunday; it was the first time they’d stopped anyone in the second half since THANKSGIVING.
A win on Sunday would put the Cowboys in the playoffs where they would likely host either San Fran or New Orleans. Would you give the Cowboys defense any shot at stopping SF or NO? I’ll root for it to happen, and might convince myself that it can, but is getting to the playoffs and losing at home in the first round worth the drama that would ensue?
If a Romo-less Cowboys team actually wins on Sunday, Dallas would be 1-6 in elimination games with Tony Romo and 1-0 with Kyle Orton. You think there’s been drama in DC lately? That would be like the riddle of RGIII’s knee wrapped in the mystery of Albert Haynseworth’s conditioning test inside the enigma of Snyder suing season ticket-holding grandmas.
Orton is under contract next year so Romo would spend the 2014 season looking over his shoulder at the guy who actually won a winner-take-all game for Dallas. That delicate psyche can’t take more tweaking.
Romo will lose you games you have no business losing. Romo will also win you games you have no business winning. You may believe he’s a choker, but I believe he does way more good than bad. John Elway had the reputation of not being able to win the big game and lost multiple Super Bowls. He was 38 before he finally won one. Romo is 33 now. I’m not saying Romo is a latter-day Elway, I’m just saying there’s still a chance he can win it all.
A win on Sunday also means that Garrett is definitely coming back. Bill Callahan might be back calling plays. Monte Kiffin would still be fired.
What if Orton plays well Sunday night but the Cowboys’ horrific D can’t stop the Eagles? A season-ending loss with a backup QB is no fun, but you can live with it. What about an entire offseason of hearing that Orton gives the Cowboys a better chance of winning than Romo? I might be able to survive that, but I’m not sure Romo’s career would.
(Romo-Orton image taken with love from Deadspin.)