Lots of debate going on. ESPN. BtB. The local barber shop. Water coolers everywhere. The question: Can Tony Romo
lead the Cowboys
to the Superbowl. The answer: no one knows really. Not even Romo himself. And THAT’s the problem. Prior to this year, it was always thought that the issue was something else: injuries or the offensive line or the defensive secondary or special teams . . . but not 2012. Yes, injuries happened, the O line wasn't the best and other imperfections occurred but toward the end of the year, lots of promise and improvement seemed to be evident. That brought hope. That raised expectations. That generated a genuine feeling among many Cowboys fans that this year was the year the Boys would push through and make the post season. It seemed evident from interviews and press clippings that Tony and the team thought that themselves.
But, it didn’t happen.
In most sports, there are so many moving parts that no win or loss can ever be attributed to one person or action. Teams win and teams lose and that’s the ENTIRE team (coaches included). Except in the NFL.
In the NFL, so much of what happens clearly falls on the QB – more so than any other sport. And, in an examination of this past year and the last game in particular, there really isn’t any other explanation for the poor offensive play other than Tony Romo not performing in a manner conducive to winning.
Tony Romo is a quagmire. After going undrafted and spending time as a back-up, Tony ascended to become a three time Pro Bowl selection, setting multiple franchise passing records and boasting a career completion percentage of 64.5% and a 96.9 passer rating. His career record as a starter is 67-48 and according to Pro-Football-Reference.com, he has amassed 18 4th quarter comebacks and 19 game winning drives. At the same time, his record in the month of December is 13-17 and his post-season record is 1-3 with a completion percentage of 59.3% and a passer rating of 80.8. His NFC East only record is 21-22. Since becoming a starter, he has thrown at least one interception and has never thrown more than 2 TDs in every single final game of the season that he’s played. He has fumbled the ball 51 times in 7 years. He has continually performed less than stellar in several “decision” games in which the Cowboys either make or miss the playoffs; including 2011 and 2012. His mistakes go beyond the QB position as he bobbled the hold for a potential game winning field goal in his 1st ever playoff game in Seattle; a game which the Boys lost.
So, should the Cowboys move on? Most of the data above certainly supports such a move. He turns 33 years old this offseason and is just finishing his 9th year in the NFL. His contract, in its present form, will give him $11.5 million next year and make him among the highest paid players – not just QBs - in the league. Perhaps the Cowboys can “catch lightning in a bottle” once more and develop a late round pick or UDFA into a better Romo, but that is risky and time consuming. More importantly, moving on from Tony is admitting to a rebuild of the entire program; once that commitment is made, it makes sense to move other prominent players (Ware, Witten, Ratliff and others) who don’t have the time to wait to rebuild from the ground up. Elite players are hard to replace; even if the Boys found Romo's replacement, they may never find Ware or Witten's. And, what would the Cowboys do in the interim while waiting for the next wiz kid QB to show himself – just tell America’s Team fan base to be patient?
So, should the Cowboys keep Tony? Well, there are certainly reasons to do that as well. One reason would be the lack of viable options for replacement. Orton is worse than Romo. The draft, at this early stage, doesn’t seem to offer anything close either. Even if it did, it’s not like another team is going to give away a 1st round pick for Tony . . . not with the data mentioned above (that team, most likely, would use the pick to draft that QB for their own franchise). Outside of that, there's still the chance that Tony CAN do it. The Cowboys are sure to improve their defense once Lee and Carter are healthy and Claiborne gains another year of experience. Even more compelling is the fact that, besides all the negative aspects, Tony Romo is still one of the better QBs in the league today. Other QBs, namely John Elway, didn't win a SB until late in their careers. And, when you think about the fact that there are several great players who never won a championship, the argument only gets stronger. Those that come to mind are: Barry Sanders, Dan Marino, Karl Malone, Randy Moss
, Charles Barkley, LaDanian Tomlinson, Dan Fouts, Eric Dickerson, Ted Williams, Dick Butkus, Jim Kelly, Terrell Owens
, Warren Moon, Bruce Matthews, and John Stockton (include Barry Bonds if you think he’s a great player as well). Either way, ALL of these players are better than Tony Romo and testament to the fact that being an elite player, or at least one thought of to be good enough to lead a team to the promised land, is no guarantee that it will happen. Every year, there are 31 starting QBs in the NFL that don’t win and it’s not always the best one in the league who does.
It seems as if Jerry Jones has declared that both Tony and Jason Garrett are safe for now. But if you were the GM, what would you do?
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