Tony Romo, as you know if you follow him on Twitter, is not one of those athletes who shares his every thought with the world via social media. His most recent tweet, a snippet from the movie Major League, has caused a bit of a stir since it sums up exactly what each of us envision in our wildest dreams.
The National Football League is not Hollywood, and the end result that each of us would secretly, or not so secretly, hope for is far-fetched to say the least. Thinking along similar lines as what Romo's tweet will most likely lead to further frustration, so I asked my colleagues here at Blogging The Boys what they felt was realistic for us to hope for when #9 steps back under center.
The first dish of reality was served up by Rabblerousr.
I think the idea that Romo will suddenly be in mid-season form is ridiculous. That, combined with the fact that he'll have two games in four days, the latter against arguably the best team on the Cowboys' schedule (I'm looking at you, Patriots) means they will struggle to win the first two. After that, there are five tough games, several on the road, in the northeast. I'll say they go 3-2, so 4-3 overall and a 6-10 finish.
I find myself in full agreement with Rabble in his assessment of the tough task that will face the Cowboys quarterback as he gets his feet wet. The Thanksgiving game would have been a challenge even if Romo had not gone down to injury against the Eagles. That opponent is a legitimate contender this season and a perfectly healthy Dallas team would need to be firing on all cylinders in this game.
One Cool Customer also has reality firmly within his grasp.
At his press conference today, Jason Garrett addressed expectations for Tony Romo's return.
"If we feel like just because (Romo) is back everything is good, that's the wrong approach."
Improved QB play is probably the biggest single lever for the Cowboys to improve, but it is far from the only one. A lot of things that have gone wrong over the last seven games will still go wrong with Romo under center. But I do feel that the team will have a much better chance of turning field goals into touchdowns with Romo, and with Sean Lee back next week and the defense rounding into shape, wins will come. However, with the remaining schedule in mind, the Cowboys should be happy to win a majority of their remaining games, and ecstatic if they go 5-2 or better.
On occasion Tom Ryle might be accused of sipping a little too freely on the sugary blue elixir, but Tom also chimed in on the side of those known as realists.
Getting Romo back is going to tell us a lot about how deep the other issues on the team run, and perhaps how much of the problem is in the players' heads. A lot of people are pinning hopes on going 7-0, but that seems highly improbable. As Shawn said, the best team in the NFC and perhaps the NFL comes to town on Thanksgiving, and that will be a big hurdle, and the Miami game is no gimme with their defensive line. Plus I am not sure just how easy the games against Washington are likely to be. 4-3 is most likely for the rest of the year, but 3-4 is not hard to see, with 5-2 probably being about the most they can really hope for. And if the team is not able to win this Sunday, which is a real possibility, things could really be bad the rest of the way.
Admittedly, I am rather pessimistic about Romo as savior given what we have seen over the past two months, but it is time to face the fact that things have gone very wrong in Dallas and he may not be able to make enough of a difference.
I too have been known to drink from the fountain of optimism, but there are issues that go far deeper than just missing the team's quarterback. I have touched on the fact that I feel that something was not right about this team as they came out of Oxnard. Getting Tony back at the helm will give the staff a chance to evaluate things for 2016 and beyond. I suspect that wins will come, starting against Miami, but at this point the more important thing is problem solving and building for the future.
The Phantom in the room also commented on the issues the Cowboys face.
I think it is apparent to all of us now that there are clear issues for this team that extend beyond the play of the quarterback. Having said that, I think the return of Romo does in fact, spark the team. One thing that I have really come to appreciate about Tony is how smart he has become in dissecting the defense. If you go back and look at the Giants game in week one, the most significant thing that stood out about the passing game is how evenly he spread out his passes to so many different targets. There were five players who were targeted at least six times, and all of them caught at least four passes. Even Randle caught three passes for 42 yards. Neither of the backups have been able to come remotely close to replicating this type of distribution. The point being, Tony has developed into a great field general and has figured out to exploit the matchups.
With Tony, I expect to see these new things...
Extending the play, but instead of taking off running, he dances around in the backfield and hits an open receiver down field, which will leads to...The return of the big play - a touchdown catch greater than 40 yards, which will leads to...Better yards per carry from our running game, which will lead to...More manageable third downs, sustaining drives, which will lead to...More points from our offense, which leads to...Defense getting opportunities to go after an offense that is forced to pass more.
I do not believe Romo will be the savior because he's still going to be Romo and that means some of these tough defenses that lie ahead on our schedule will get the better of him. He's not perfect. But I do think life creeps back into our season for a brief moment, before it is taken away from us for good. The only expectation I have is that these next seven games are more enjoyable to watch than the previous seven.
It was at this point that Rabbs chimes in again and reminded us all that we can easily be wrong in how we read the tea leaves. His thoughts also serve as a counter-point to my impression that something is amiss, or at least they show that whatever is off is only slightly off.
Jim Scott, who also wrote his own post on reality for the team, concurred.
Romo can't throw either of those 4th qtr balls to dez any better. The best receiver in the game had better make those plays
That having been said, this team is absolutely capable of running the table, just as they were capable of winning six of the last seven games. They just have to do it. And they'd better learn to do it again or all the personnel moves draft picks and dreams will not matter.
I do not see a team devoid of talent. I see a team making critical mistakes at critical times. All they have to do is stop.
His take on things is supported by Michael Sisemore.
I'm with Jim. Sure it's a tall task but looking back at the games they've played without Romo and the factoring him in those games, we're talking about a completely different team. It will be very hard and there is rust to consider but it's still a top five passer maybe top three we are talking about. If the team lifts their spirit because his return, it's enough to make a magical run.
Rabble did remind us that we could all be reading the tea leaves incorrectly. Perhaps Romo's return could be the "it" factor that changes the game completely. Whatever has been amiss has obviously not been as bad as what was behind the dawn of the Jason Garrett era. The Cowboys have not plunged to those depths in 2015.
Then again, maybe we're letting out disappointment rule over our reason. People who note that the Cowboys have been in a lot of close games aren't wrong. How many points is Romo worth per game? And might that not be enough to make a difference for a team that has shown itself capable of avoiding blowouts (blowouts are the mark of a bad team; Wade didn't have to leave because his team fell to 1-7; he had to go because the team experienced 18-point and 38-point losses in the first two games without Romo).
The truth is that we, as writers, are as much in the dark about what we will see from the Cowboys as anyone. We all anticipate better play out of the team behind Tony Romo. None of us are going to go out on a limb with a statement that all is well because we do not think that it is. Sure, the could run the table or they could lose out. Neither one is likely. The truth is somewhere in between.