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Speaking with NFL Network’s Judy Battista, in an interview that will air Monday on Up To The Minute Live at 5 p.m. ET, from the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, O’Brien again declined to talk about the possibility of adding Romo, and instead praised the two quarterbacks on his roster.
“Well first of all, Tony is under contract so he’s a Dallas Cowboy,” O’Brien said. “We feel like, right now, we have two quarterbacks that’ll be there on April 17, the beginning of our offseason program. It’ll be Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden. We are really looking forward to working with those guys. Both those guys can throw the football. Tom is a guy who played two or three games for us last year, played well, did some good things for our football team. Still a young player, so we’re real excited to work with him. We’re excited to be working with Brandon. Two years ago, he helped us win a couple games as our starting quarterback, so that’s where it is right now. Now, every day in this league is a fluid situation. Every day, whether it’s the draft or free agency or someone gets released or whatever that is. But today, as we sit here right now, we’re excited and we will be excited about who we have in that room, and of course, over the next few weeks, maybe we add to that room, maybe we don’t…”
While the Cowboys and Texans have an intrastate starring competition regarding Romo, it’s reasonable if O’Brien’s praise of Savage and Weeden reminds you of his famous Hard Knocks declaration in 2015 that “both those kids can play” when stumping for Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer.
O’Brien doubled down on his belief that Savage can be a starting quarterback if the Texans don’t add a veteran quarterback. (The unspoken Romo speculation is the grease in which all quarterback discussions marinate this offseason.)
“Absolutely,” O’Brien responded about Savage’s ability to start. “He came into some tough games, the Jacksonville game last year that we had to win. We were down in the game, he helped us come back. He helped us beat Cincinnati on Christmas Eve, which was a big game that we had to win to clinch the South. We knew we had to win because of what happened earlier in the day in our division. And he helped us win that game. He got injured, and that’s been kind of one of the things that’s happened to him. He’s been injured over the last three years of his career. But if you look at the history of the league, there’s a number of guys who have played that were injured early in their career. Tom is a smart guy, he can throw the ball really well, he knows our system and he’s a guy that we’re real excited about working with.”
Savage certainly was an upgrade on Brock Osweiler last season. The 26-year-old has the arm to open up a previously restricted offense and understands O’Brien’s system.
While we are skeptical of Savage’s ability to lead a playoff-ready team deep into the postseason, O’Brien believes the former fourth-round pick has the talent and confidence, if he can stay healthy.
“I believe he can,” the coach said. “Now look, I think the thing about the injury question, that’s a tough question for any coach to answer. Ultimately he knows what he needs to do to stay healthy. He’s a smart guy. He’s actually worked very hard to change his body in the years that he’s been with us. He’s gotten stronger and in better shape, more flexible. But you know, when he plays the game maybe he needs to do things a little bit smarter with the experience that he has now, to stay healthy for 16 games.”
If or when the Cowboys release Romo and the Texans dive into the fray, this entire post becomes mostly irrelevant. Yet, with Romo’s injury history, we could still see O’Brien’s faith in Savage put to the test in important games in 2017.
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