For Romo & Kaepernick, Sunday Night Is More Than Just Another Preseason Game
It’s a stretch to call Sunday’s game at Levi’s Stadium a battle of Tony Romo versus Colin Kaepernick. It’s not a stretch to say that the performance of those two is at the center of the playoff hopes for the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.
Romo enters this preseason matchup with more than three times the amount of experience (119 starts to 39 starts). But whether either team can expect a return visit to the Bay in early February will depend upon its quarterback becoming and remaining efficient.
The ascension to the starting role was different for each quarterback. Bill Parcells waited more than three years before finally throwing Romo to the wolves. Kaepernick had less than half that amount of time. And though both have enjoyed their fair share of successes in the NFL, they still find themselves generally regarded as stricken owners of the fabled green thumb.
Each quarterback’s off-season has been characterized by a highly-publicized workload.
For Romo, the fact that he has been able to fully participate on the practice field this summer is noteworthy by itself. No quarterback has been closer to being declared a football vegetable the past two off-seasons than Romo, the recipient of back operations following the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
The fact that he is now healthy has some speculating upon Romo’s chances of improving upon his league-leading completion-percentage rate of 69.9 from the 2014 season. Others though foresee that his mercurial nature will result in a falloff for the Cowboys in 2015.
What Kaepernick has going for him that Romo does not is the pedigree of reaching the Super Bowl. Not that anybody outside of San Francisco remembers such a thing. Back in 2012, a lot of NFL people thought Kapernick had a brighter pro future coming out of Nevada than either Cam Newton or Andy Dalton.
Here we are in 2015, and those same people are prepared to renege on their prediction.
Although Kaepernick brings obvious intangibles to the game with his ability to run, his accuracy and mechanics have come under fire the last two seasons in which San Francisco failed to record a playoff victory., which resulted in him seeking out Kurt Warner for help before the start of mini-camps.
Romo’s job is tough. In 2015, Kaepernick’s is tougher. A twelve-year veteran, Romo is shielded behind the game’s best offensive line and an internal support system that deflects any and all criticism. Kaepernick is surrounded by the handiwork of the league’s most dysfunctional organization.
Romo is trying to get his team past the Eagles again. Kaepernick is trying to stave off the vultures while overcoming the functions of what appears to be a fast-decaying roster. Not only is he attempting to remain relevant at his position, but also keep the 49ers afloat in a brutal NFC Western division.
To listen to the head coach of each respective franchise, Romo and Kaepernick have been at the top of their game so far in training camp. That’s why Jerry Jones can dream about qualifying for the NFL’s golden anniversary Super Bowl, and why Jim Tomsula can talk about a return trip to the playoffs.
Two teams with high aspirations can’t afford to see their quarterbacks going in reverse. That’s why Sunday’s game in the San Francisco sun is, in fact, something more than just an exhibition. It, in many ways, is a chance to set the tone for an entire season.