We've had months of radio silence from the brass of the Dallas Cowboys - well, radio silence is relative when discussing Jerry Jones. He has spoken some this offseason, but it's been a trickle instead of the standard Niagara Falls torrent. True to their word, Wade Phillips has been enjoying a media-free interregnum before he returns to his regular duty of providing treatment for insomniacs everywhere. He's not exactly a one-man Broadway show at his press conferences. Both Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips have opened up to the media at the current NFL meetings, sharing on various subjects but mostly it's all about Tony Romo.
The wunderkind is now being watched with a suspicious eye by some media and fans. His very hot start seemingly came out of nowhere - except to us hardcore Cowboys fanatics. His meteoric rise in the media and in the public consciousness, his ability to make a spectacular play out of a looming disaster, his monster stats put up in 2007; all of these things and more made him the answer to our prays. "Dear Football Gods, can you please send us another Troy or Roger, even a Danny or Dandy, or anybody who hasn't once played professional baseball?" Then Romo showed up and all was fine. Until recently. This is what happens in sports, you always have to be climbing or people will say you're slipping. Glittering regular-season stats and wins are one thing, winning playoff games and Super Bowls are another. Fairly or unfairly, it's a given that a QB will be judged to a higher standard than the rest of the team. By custom, he's the leader. He handles the ball more than any other player on the field (well, except for the center), and what he does with it is the catalyst for much of what happens on offense. He's the natural focal point and is always the first position people look at when teams don't perform well.
The Dallas Cowboys didn't perform well last year. Tony Romo is being watched, where will he take his team from here? He'll be entering his fourth season with significant playing time as the starter. He lost one of his biggest weapons but through the looking glass it can be debated that it might help him. He has an offensive line that is also being eyed suspiciously. Their play is intricately intertwined with Romo's play.
So questions are being asked about Romo this offseason. And the Cowboys are finally answering
More after the jump.
"I wouldn't trade Tony for anybody," Jones said.
Well, there's an answer that nobody expected. Yes, that's sarcasm dripping on your monitor. We know Jerry; we know he loves him some Romo, he just gave him a big fat contract and he's a believer.
I'm a believer too. Sure, Romo definitely has some areas to work on. One area could be leadership. This is his team now. The other large figure that carried much sway in Dallas with a very charismatic personality has moved on.
[Jerry] Jones said he did not consult with Romo about cutting Owens but said the two have talked about the best way to utilize personnel.
"I think in the sense that I am quick to focus on that we want to do everything we can to have Romo play his best, and I made the decision to release Terrell, then I must have thought it gives Tony a better chance to play at the optimum for the Cowboys," Jones said.
Jerry is handing this team over to Romo. He has provided the tagline for the Cowboys offense in 2009 - Romo-friendly.
Jones said Romo's focus on his physical conditioning has been increased as well as his determination to cut down on turnovers.
Ah yes, the turnovers. The age old debate about gun-slinging. Since Romo's entry as a starting QB, costly turnovers and putting the ball on the carpet a little too often have been an issue. His line let him down to some extent in 2008. Still, there are things he can do to help like throwing the ball away more often or tucking it and scooting for a few yards before sliding. Also, protecting the ball in the pocket until you're ready to throw has never been a strong suit. Part of that is his desire to make every play a winner, which is something you don't want to totally drive out of him, but learning when to cut-bait is still a challenge he has to master.
His ability to make plays, move the offense and put points on the board far outweigh some of his faults. He just has to make them payoff in December and January.
His head coach is a believer, too.
"I have great confidence in Tony," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said Tuesday. "Cutler is a fine quarterback, but no, I wouldn't trade Tony for anybody, really. I think he's got a special talent that a lot of other players don't have. I think he'll continue to show that. Again, his record was 21-8 the last two years. Now, did we win the right ones and so forth? No, but he's still a winner, and he's going to help you win a lot of games. It wasn't just him, but he's been very successful."
But Jerry hasn't just handed things over to Romo, he's also showed a little love to head coach Wade Phillips. He's making the team more Phillips-friendly.
"Just [Jerry] saying, 'Hey, Wade wants these guys for this team and thinks they're going to fit well' just reiterates his confidence that we're trying to get a team that all of us will be excited about," said Phillips, who is supposed to have his first full-scale media appearance during Wednesday morning's NFC coaches-media breakfast here. "That's what you're looking for, those kinds of people."
Also, according to Jerry, the Cowboys might be looking to a little Wildcat this year.
"We may want to do some things in our offense this year with a third quarterback," Jones said. "That's something other than be there as a backup to the second quarterback and be there in case you lose all the quarterbacks ... We could hopefully find a quarterback with a set of skills that we could put some packages in for."
Stanback? Someone from the draft? You decide.
Jerry Jones has hitched his wagon to Tony Romo. He's given Wade Phillips the freedom to get the horses he wants to help Romo pull that wagon.
Are you guys on the bandwagon?