Eagles don't care who is at QB for Cowboys
Tony Romo (left) has a 95.8 career passer rating; backup Kyle Orton's rating is 79.7. (USA Today Images)
There was no big celebration in the coaches’ offices Monday.
When the ESPN report citing unnamed sources reached the Eagles that a back injury would keep Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo from facing the Eagles in Sunday’s NFC East championship game, the only thing that happened in the Eagles’ offices was a slight shift in film work.
After losing to a 3-9-1 Vikings team missing Adrian Peterson two weeks ago, the Eagles aren’t in the position of taking anybody lightly.
“I think we learned a pretty valuable lesson against Minnesota,” Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis said. "And it’s fresh in our minds."
That lesson was: With Matt Cassel starting in place of quarterback Christian Ponder and Matt Asiata starting in place of Peterson, you can still lose 48-30 if you’re not careful.
With Romo reportedly done for the year as he faces back surgery, journeyman Kyle Orton is expected to start at quarterback against the Eagles on Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in a game that will determine the NFC East winner.
“We may have to play a different guy, but we’re going to prepare for their offense and all their weapons,” Davis said. “He’s one man of 11 out there.”
Romo is 63-45 in his career as a starter with three Pro Bowls and a passer rating of 95.8 -- eighth-highest in NFL history out of 303 quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 1,000 passes.
Orton is 35-34 as a starter with a passer rating of 79.7. Since 2010, he’s 6-15 as a starter.
Orton has had five career games with three or more touchdowns -- two of them against the Eagles.
"I know Kyle Orton is a highly efficient quarterback," Davis said. "He’s started about 70 games, I believe, in the NFL. He has a great presence and sees the field well. He’s always distributed the ball equally to the open guy. I think some guys have favorites, some don’t.
“Kyle Orton is a great system quarterback in that he understands the coverage and what position in the routes [receivers are in] and he does a great job in getting the ball out of his hands and accurately thrown to the open guys, so we’ve got a great challenge no matter who the quarterback is. But Kyle Orton could start for a lot of teams in the NFL.”
Orton, 31, has thrown only five passes this year and threw just 10 last year.
His last starts came in 2011 with the Chiefs. Assuming he starts against the Eagles on Sunday, it will be his first start in almost exactly two years. His last NFL start was the last day of the 2011 season, when the Chiefs beat the Broncos -- the team he started the year with -- 7-3 in Denver.
Davis said the Eagles’ preparation for Sunday night doesn’t really change that much, no matter who starts.
“It does more with quarterbacks who are vastly different,” he said. “When there’s one athletic runner that wants to run instead of throw. I think these two quarterbacks are real similar.
“Tony Romo probably extends the play more than most in the NFL, I think that’s one of the knacks and the talents that he has, his ability that once the initial play has broken down to improvise.
“Tony was really running the offense efficiently. I think he had 30 touchdowns and just a few interceptions (10), so he was having a great year, and if he’s healthy we’re ready for his best, and if Orton’s the quarterback then we’re ready for his best and we’ll give him ours.
“I don’t think the offense changes too much with one or the other. We’re prepared for both of them and prepared to get the Dallas Cowboys’ absolute best no matter who’s at quarterback.”
The Eagles are 9-6 and the Cowboys 8-7 going into the nationally televised finale in Arlington on Sunday night. The Cowboys already have a head-to-head win over the Eagles and a tiebreaker, so whoever wins Sunday goes to the playoffs and whoever loses is done.
“We know that we have to step up no matter who plays and we have to be at our absolute peak,” Davis said. “[Who plays is] out of our control. We have no control of it. We can control the emotion and the work that we do today and preparation and what we bring to the field Sunday night and we don’t even worry about what we can’t control.”