NFL

NFL AM: Romo Begins Throwing

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Tony Romo throwing in individual drills:

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t won a game since Tony Romo went down with a broken collarbone, and there’s nothing about the play of Matt Cassel or Brandon Weeden that hint towards that happening until their starting quarterback gets back.

The Cowboys, who were talked about by some as Super Bowl contenders, are now on the verge of digging themselves a hole that even Romo may not be able to dig them out of.

At 2-5, the Cowboys are last in the NFC East, and only find themselves above the 2-6 San Francisco 49ers and 1-7 Detroit Lions in the entire NFC. The good news for Dallas is they aren’t out of the NFC East race, because the Giants (who the Cowboys beat in Week 1) are leading the division at 4-4.

Dallas may have an entire conference to leap-frog to grab one of the two wild card spots, so their best chance at sneaking into the playoffs might be finding a way to still sneak away with the division title. With the glaring holes and inconsistency in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, the Cowboys aren’t out of the race to win what is a very sloppy division in 2015.

There are major question marks about Romo’s durability now that he’s getting toward the twilight of his career.  Anyone who’s had consistent back problems knows how difficult they are to get rid of, and Romo is always one hit away from throwing out a back that hasn’t been right for a couple of years now. On top of that, this is his second broken collarbone.

Despite the criticism he often receives because he’s had a propensity to come up too small in the Cowboys biggest games, Romo is a great quarterback. The question is how much longer his body can hold up and allow him to be a great quarterback.

Ryan Fitzpatrick to start Sunday for the Jets:

It seems ironic that Ryan Fitzpatrick being able to start Sunday feels like such a big deal for the Jets. After all, it was Fitzpatrick’s inconsistent past that made the Jets tough to believe in heading into the season.

To his credit, Fitzpatrick has been solid under center this season and his play has kept the Jets pretty competitive offensively. While Fitzpatrick hasn’t been a dominant quarterback, he’s been steady, and that’s a welcome change to Jets fans who haven’t seen consistency at the position in some time.

Fitzpatrick has thrown a touchdown pass in every game this season until being injured against Oakland on the team’s first drive Sunday. More importantly, Jets fans have only had to bear witness to bad Fitzpatrick one time this season. While Fitzpatrick has been intercepted almost every week this season, he only threw more than one pick once (in Week 3), when he threw three interceptions against the Philadelphia Eagles.

In the end, Fitzpatrick lends a veteran presence that Geno Smith was too young and inexperienced to provide. That’s important for a team that’s going to rely heavily on its defense and running the football.

If the season ended today, the Jets would be the No. 6 seed in the AFC, but they are one of seven non-division-leading teams with at least three wins, so they can’t afford to hit a skid if they want to stay in playoff contention.

Of the Jets next six opponents, only the New York Giants, who are .500 at 4-4, don’t have a losing record, so the Jets have an opportunity to remain in the Wildcard picture. It’s not something you ever thought would be said about Fitzpatrick, but the Jets and their fans will feel a lot better about that upcoming schedule if the veteran journeyman can remain under center.

Joseph Randle clears waivers:

Former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle cleared waivers on Wednesday, as nobody felt like they needed running back help enough to bring in Randle, who faces a one-game suspension from the league.

Ironically, the Cowboys, whose owner Jerry Jones called girlfriend-battering thug, Greg Hardy “a leader,” after a sideline blow up that included Hardy slapping a clipboard out of special teams coach Rich Bisaccia’s hand, cut Randle for being a dummy and a pothead.

It’s difficult to feel too bad for Randle after seeing the young man throw teammates under the bus while in police custody after being arrested for stealing cologne and underwear. Yes, you read that right. A guy getting an NFL pay check was arrested for stealing underwear.

Randle is a talented back who averaged 4.5 yards per carry while playing 35 games over the past two and a half seasons for the Cowboys, but he’s clearly got some things going on upstairs. He’s likely going to have to prove he’s matured a lot before another NFL team gives him a shot, because it’s one of the teams that often overlooks that stuff that just cut him.

At the end of the day, when you look at the transgressions that Randle has committed, you have to wonder if he’s the kind of young man the Cowboys should have committed themselves to helping turn around instead of a dirt bag like Hardy. I suppose this is just one more example of pass rushers being more valued than tailbacks.


About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.