Romo Changes Everything

November 6, 2008

Football fans have watched, some with great glee, the recent plight of the 5-4 Dallas Cowboys. The early season struggles of "America's Team" have led many to question just how good the Cowboys really were to begin with. Did everyone just overrate them?

Partly. The easy answer is to blame the defense. While it is obvious the Cowboy defense has had its problems, some of those have explanations. Most obviously the secondary, which has been hit hard due to the injury to Terrence Newman and the suspension of Pacman Jones. Nonetheless you will get no argument from me that the defense has clearly underachieved and it hasn't helped that defensive-minded coach Wade Phillips is unable to do anything but radiate fear and disorientation in a manner reminiscent of Dave Campo. But that's another issue...

In this article, I must take exception with some of the "conventional wisdom" related to last Sunday's 35-14 domination by the New York Giants which some say is indicative of a total team collapse. These critics contend that the Cowboys are done. Many now also suggest that Eli Manning is far superior to Tony Romo. A recent online ESPN poll had 93% of respondents saying they would rather have Manning than Romo.


While there may be many All Star parts to the Cowboys, the engine has always been Tony Romo. How good did all of those All-Stars on offense look without Romo the last 3 weeks? It was just a few years ago that the Cowboys were stuck in the Drew Bledsoe era. Truthfully, Bledsoe was not that bad a quarterback. However, the moment Bill Parcells handed over the reigns to Romo the possibilities changed entirely. In 2006, Romo had a 95.1 quarterback rating over 16 games and more importantly had revitalized the Cowboy offense. When he dropped the snap on a potential game-winning Field Goal in the playoffs at Seattle, many questioned how he would mentally respond. But, few understood then that Romo's gunslinger mentality refused to allow himself or the Cowboys to get too down.

Last year, Romo threw for 4,211 yards and 36 TDs while completing 64.4% of his passes. Sure, he threw 19 INTS as well, but his high risk/high reward philosophy served the Cowboys throughout the year. Despite this, Romo was scapegoated after the close loss at home to the NY Giants in the playoffs. Romo did not have a great game, but was far from the sole reason for the defeat. Few who criticize Romo for this loss have cared to note that the NY Giants, whom the Cowboys were trying to beat for the 3rd time that year, were a hot team with the top pass rush in the NFL. The Giants defensive pressure was so disruptive that it allowed them to beat the other top 2 quarterbacks of 2007, Brett Favre and Tom Brady, in the next two games as well. Yet I didn't hear either of those two quarterbacks treated as choke artists. Nonetheless, critics have pointed to this game as proof that Romo may lack certain "intangibles" to take the Cowboys to the Super Bowl.

Tony Romo is all intangibles. At his best Romo aggressively attacks defenses by throwing downfield rather than quickly settling for the dumpoff in the flat. He is great in the 2-minute offense and has been big at the end of countless games. While this year he seems to have perhaps been more hesitant to use his legs to get out of the pocket and buy extra time, he has still been effective in his 6 games. While the numbers far from tell the whole story, he is averaging 281.5 yards per game, 14TDs, 5INTs, 64% completions, with a QB Rating of 103.5.


Taking nothing away from Eli Manning, but without an incredible catch by David Tyree (anyone remember Patrick Crayton and TO's playoff drops?) there is no basis to even suggest he is better than Romo. Last year, Manning threw 23 TDs and 20 INTs while completing only 56% of his passes. Manning has never been asked to produce offensively in the way Romo does for the Cowboys. This year, Manning's numbers have improved in every category over the first 8 games: 216.9 yds/game, 12TDs, 5INTs, 61.2% completions, and 89.7 QB rating. This has led to a 7-1 start for the Gians. Yet, if Romo produces these kind of numbers in 2008 the Cowboys almost certainly cannot finish better than 8-8.


Those who have watched this team closely enough over the past few years have a much simpler explanation for last weekend's performance: The Cowboys, without Tony Romo, are not even a playoff team, so don't expect them to play like one. However, the Cowboys, with Romo healthy and playing as he did last year, are one of the top 3 teams in Football. Yes, they started slow and the schedule is tough, but everyone just settle down and watch the show. If they get in the playoffs, I still wouldn't bet against the 2008 Dallas Cowboys.

By Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...