Let me go on record and say that I really was a big fan of TO. I always was going back to his San Francisco days. I felt like he was a freakish combination of bulk and speed the likes of which the NFL had never seen before. I was glad when he came to the Cowboys and had hoped that they could win a Super Bowl featuring him in their offense. That time has clearly passed now and the Cowboys are moving on to another brand of offense; one that (on paper) more closely resembles the 90’s offense and that’s what concerns me. Can Tony Romo run that type of offense?
The comparison between the units is becoming freakishly similar. The 90’s team had its dominant running game with Emmitt and their huge offensive line. This team has a similarly large line and keeping up with modern times presents three very different backs that could collectively help Dallas see a return to an overbearing rushing attack. That 90’s team also had a lethal passing game however to help balance the attack. Many a defense would stack the line early in games only to be burned by Aikman, Irvin and Novacek. Tired of getting burned they’d back their safeties up only to be counter punched by Emmitt and the ground game. The question I have is will this Cowboys team have the passing game necessary to truly create a balanced attack?
Many of the pieces seem to be in place. Witten is every bit the TE that Novacek was and then some. The 90’s team had Alvin Harper who was a big wide out with excellent down field speed; Miles Austin immediately comes to mind for the present day offense in this role. The 90’s team also featured perhaps the best possession receiver the game has ever seen in Michael Irvin. He was an expert at getting his body in-between the ball and the defender and you’d be hard pressed to find another receiver in the league, at the time that ran more precise routes. Aikman would often throw the ball to Irvin on plays were he did not appear to be open; knowing that he could put the ball in an area where only Irvin could make a play on it, (which he often did). The present day team may have a comparable type of player in Roy Williams. He's also good at shielding the ball from the defender with his body and has excellent hands. But herein lays my concerns; and I don’t mean this in a derogatory way but Romo is no Aikman.
I love Romo and think he is an excellent QB who has yet to see his better days but his game is nothing like Aikman’s. The 90’s passing attack was based on rhythm and timing and most importantly accuracy. Aikman may very well have been the most accurate passer the NFL has ever seen and very few QBs have ever lived that could have run that offense they way he did. Romo, by comparison, may actually become an ever better all around QB someday. His improvisation skills are outstanding and his quick release is actually comparable to Marino’s. The issue I have is accuracy does not appear to be one of his strengths and when working with a receiver like RW, in a rhythm and timing offense, it needs to be.
Romo has grown accustomed to throwing the ball to receivers that create more separation from their defenders than RW does. RW’s role in this offense will be to get his massive frame into a position on the field where he can shield off the defender or else go up for a jump ball, (i.e. his touchdown reception from Brad Johnson in the Tampa game.) Aikman used to throw the ball to a spot on the field where he knew Irvin would eventually be. The question I have is can Romo and RW get the same type of timing rhythm that our heroes of yesteryear had? I suppose time will tell.