While speculation swirls around the Dallas Cowboy's invisible, shrinking championship window, Jerry Jones contributed to the pressure by agreeing with that notion on the NFL Network on May 22.
Well, my window is getting shorter. Time goes by, Jones told the NFL Network. I do feel real pressure because we do have players not only in Tony Romo, but Jason Witten DeMarcus Ware, to leave out several that are (also) in the prime of their career. And we need to strike and strike soon with those guys.
Of all the players mentioned, Romo's stands out as the Cowboys starting celebrity quarterback, in addition to his one playoff win in six seasons in Dallas. As scrutinized as Romo is, he may not be the quarterback facing the most pressure within his division. That pressure falls upon Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.
Romo and Vick are among the six oldest quarterbacks in the league and both missed the playoffs last season. Despite playing in Philadelphia for fewer seasons than Romo, Vick has a shorter leash after throwing four more interceptions than his Cowboys counterpart, 13 fewer touchdowns and has been unable to engineer game-winning drives. This is the most talented team Vick has ever played with and the expectations in the City of Brotherly Love are at championship heights.
The window is closing for me as well. I'll be 32 next month and so I'm on the back now. Vick told ESPN. I still feel good, don't get me wrong, but it's only a certain amount of guys can say that they played with the group of guys that I played with and I'm just thankful to have a group of guys around me and the coach that I have.
Last, Vick style of play was again questioned after he suffered multiple injuries, which forced him to miss starts as well as the fourth quarter of multiple starts. If Romo doesn't pan out in Dallas, he'll likely get a starting job elsewhere because of his pure passing abilities and quick release.
As inspiring as Vick's return to gridiron glory has been, he still has another step to take in order to remain the Eagles starter. Vick has a rocket arm but at 32 he'll begin slowing down soon and teams may be weary about whether his penchant for taking physical punishment gaining extra yards running is viable for a diminutive starting quarterback. Andy Reid remains in his corner but if the Eagles struggle this season, he won't return in 2013. Vick also has financial concerns to worry about as he climbs his way out of bankruptcy.
Both quarterbacks will be pitted against one another in a stacked NFC East but they will have some factors in their favor. Romo will have DeMarco Murray returning to the backfield while Vick's favorite receiver, DeSean Jackson, will be re-inspired after receiving a five-year contract extension in March.
The Cowboys shored up their secondary with a slew of free agent pickups as well as the selection of 2012's top cornerback prospect, Morris Claiborne. The Eagles will also have to the opportunity to spend their first full offseason with their star acquisitions of last July.
The season will be difficult but both Vick and Romo will have to exhibit mental toughness in order to carry the mountain of expectations mounted upon their throwing shoulders this season.