Enough is enough.
I am a big fan of Tony Romo's. HE is the guy that gives me hope every time Dallas takes the field in a way that I have not felt since Aikman retired. HE is the one who can make a play when everything around him breaks down. HE has demonstrated great accuracy. HE can make plays with his legs as well as his arm. I feel like HE can be the next great football hero on a long list of past heroes for America's Team.
But...right now, in this team's time of dire need, HE has to step up and be accountable.
It's time to end the reign of the Romo Apologists who find fault with EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE other than Romo himself for Dallas' epic failures in the face of such high expectations. Romo has 67 million reasons to make this the most productive and purposeful off seasons any NFL QB has ever had.
No one in their right mind would say that the o-line played better in 2008 than in 2007. It was worse. We know that. The left guard spot was a revolving door and it ruined some very good chemistry. To say Romo's play declined because of an injury to Kyle Kosier (who many people said was the weak link on the line) is unacceptable to anyone not wearing Romo-colored lenses.
Maybe it was T.O.'s fault. I've said before that T.O. could ruin Romo if Owens' ego forced Romo to do stupid things like forcing balls and over-targeting Owens. I've also said T.O. won't win a Super Bowl because he loves him some him more than he loves him some TEAM. But to blame it on T.O. is an excuse, and a poor one at that. T.O. is a supreme talent that Romo couldn't seem to perform well without when T.O. was hurt (Romo Apologists selectively forget that for some reason). So no, I refuse to pin Romo's play on T.O.
The play calling looked suspect at times and the running game suffered. You could say Garrett was the reason Romo didn't step it up. But, on those occasions when Romo had time to scan the field and then still chose to throw into double and triple coverage for INT's instead of tossing it away, was that Garrett's fault? I don't remember anyone other than Bledsoe getting blamed for his inability to get rid of the ball when he got into trouble. I also don't recall anyone calling for Sean Payton's head at that time. Curious how we bend our opinions about such things like a reed in the wind.
I refuse to accept the Romo Apologist contention that he is still young and relatively inexperienced. He is 27 and has had lots of study time as the #2. He's an NFL QB and there are no mulligans. I also reject the notion that you have to take the good with the bad when it comes to Tony. Why? What is Peyton Manning's bad? And before anyone asks why I invoke the name of the NFL MVP in comaprison to Romo, it's because Romo gets paid in the ranks of the NFL's elite QB's and, as with any other employee, should earn it through their performance. Either way, I'll take bad as long as it is far outweighed with good.
For those of us needing a simpler message; I am not comparing Romo to Bledsoe or Manning or Aikman or even Jake Plummer. I am simply asking us to look at Romo dispassionately, almost as though he was a QB on a team you don't care anything about (like the Chiefs or Bills) and see him for what he has been, what he is, and most important, what he needs to become. If that were the case, what would you say about Tony Romo?
I've said before that the only stat that means anything to me as a fan is winning. I don't play fantasy football because I only root for one team and one team's players. Tony can throw a hundred interceptions and have a hundred fumbles...as long as he leads the team to victory. I don't care about his private life either. He can date Chelsea Clinton, Kim Kardashian, Giselle, Kellie Pickler, Jessica Simpson, Ashley Simpson and their mom all at the same time and I won't care...as long as he leads the team to victory.
Yes, the o-line needs to perform better. Yes, let's hope injuries are not the factor they were this year. Yes, the play calling should be more balanced and creative. Yes, the receivers have to run their routes well. But tell me, how many team's fans aren't saying those things about their team? Maybe a select few? I've heard Dallas fans make similar comments after Super Bowl wins. I just cannot allow those things to blur my vision when it comes to Romo's performance like they do the Romo Apologist.
They say championship teams are built in the off season and I truly believe that. So, this off season, I want to see the kind of behavior that I see in other QB's who I admire. I want to see the fire in Romo burn so brightly that he spends weeks with RW11, Austin and T.O. working on routes and timing. I want to see him call Gurode and invite him over for a week to practice shotgun snaps. I want to see him stay late after the minicamps and work with Felix and Tashard on swing routes and blitz pickups. I want him to forget about how to throw the ball at different arm angles and learn how to throw the ball away when appropriate. I want him to learn how to hold the ball when sliding or scrambling. I want him to dissect every turnover and errant throw from this past season and, like any professional, do the things neccessary to ensure they don't happen again and that he improves as a player and as a leader.
I am ready for Tony Romo to WELCOME the accountability that comes with his position and to elevate his level of play AND OF THOSE AROUND HIM, while setting aside the external pressures that come with being the QB of America's Team, to a level that brings a Lombardi back to Dallas.
I believe he can do it. I just don't know if he has the mental toughness to do it.