What Has Gone Wrong With Tony Romo?

Stacy Revere

There are many topics to address concerning the state of the Dallas Cowboys, but one of the most alarming may be the sudden drop-off in production for their franchise quarterback.

Call it the 108 million dollar question.

Buried in the avalanche of injured players and blown plays that took the place of a football game being played by the Dallas Cowboys against the New Orleans Saints was another poor performance by Tony Romo. In case you haven't noticed, something has gone very wrong with the man that the Cowboys have bet the next six years on.

Romo was a very inadequate 10 of 24 for 128 yards passing. He converted exactly no third downs on the night. His passes were often off target, such as the one where he missed a wide-open Dez Bryant for what should have been an easy touchdown. He was bad. And this is a trend that has been going on for the past five weeks.

Here's a look at the first ten games of the season and Romo's quarterback rating in each.

Game QB rating
New York Giants 90.8
Kansas City Chiefs 99.1
St. Louis Rams 137.2
San Diego Chargers 108.6
Denver Broncos 140.0
Washington Redskins 72.9
Philadelphia Eagles 69.2
Detroit Lions 102.9
Minnesota Vikings 90.1
New Orleans Saints 72.9

It's like something happened to him after the incredible effort against Denver. Except for a bit of a rally against the Lions, Romo's ratings for the past five games are all lower than any he had in the first five.

There have been no reports of new injury issues for him. I do realize that with the way the team sometimes treats the health of the players as a state secret, he may have an undisclosed case of stage 4 halitosis or viral buck fever (the last actually would make sense, since the only know symptom is an inability to hit your target). Three of the last five games have clearly been substandard performances, and the 90.1 against the Vikings is really not much better.

Inconsistency plagues all aspects of the Cowboys, and it probably should come as no surprise that the leader of the team is afflicted with it himself. It is hard to figure why he would put up such outstanding numbers in the shootout with Peyton Manning and then slump to such an ineffective performance against Drew Brees. And that 72.9 is deceptive. There were at least two near interceptions where the Saints should have gotten the ball.

As I said, there is no known physical problem. The logical conclusion is that this is all about his confidence and mental state. He just seems to have become shaken after the grueling defeat against the Broncos, although there is no clear reason why. His accuracy is off, he can't find the open target as easily as he once did, and with the exception of an occasional series like the game winning sequence against the Vikings, he is just not able to sustain drives.

This is not just a problem. With a nine-figure, six-year contract involved, this is frightening. If Romo has indeed developed some mental block that is going to limit his effectiveness, there is truly no hope for the team. Without him, the offense cannot put up points. The defense is not going to carry the team this year. Having Romo able to run neck and neck against the offensive machines out there, the way he did against Denver, was the only real chance the team had. If that is gone, the final six games are going to be grim.

It would actually be a good thing if this turns out to go back to Bill Callahan and how he is calling the games, because that can always be fixed. Offensive coordinators can be replaced at will when you have Jerry Jones' financial resources. But if this is something that has changed with Romo, then it is not just this season that is in jeopardy. Quite simply, there is almost no way to tell from the outside. In all likelihood, only Romo himself knows.

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