The old adage goes that "fine wine only gets better with age". At 36 years old with 11 NFL seasons under his belt (a few seasons cut short by major injuries), Tony Romo has truly been through a lot in his career with the Dallas Cowboys. Since Romo became the Cowboys' full-time quarterback, the team has enjoyed a record of 78 wins compared to 49 losses. The Cowboys have also made the playoffs four times in Romo's tenure, yet the quarterback only has two wins to show for it in comparison to four losses.
Romo's career path has been somewhat of an interesting one. For the first couple of years in his career, he was known to take chances down the field, which led to more turnovers in the process. Romo's gunslinger, throw-vertical mentality paired with an inept offensive line created an unhealthy offense in Dallas and it's evident considering his interception percentage was always above 3% for his first three years.
But in 2014, the offense's devotion to becoming a more balanced offense paid huge dividends to Romo's production. He was no longer throwing for around 5,000 yards, but he was still throwing for similar touchdown numbers and points. A running game led by the offensive line combined with a zone-blocking type back made the Cowboys' offense a success. Romo also had a career-high in completion percentage.
The offense wasn't the only thing that changed their ways. Romo became much more comfortable with the offense Scott Linehan was running. He dedicated time in training camp and in OTAs to tweak his mechanics and change his quick release to become even quicker. Romo's knowledge of the offense led to fewer turnovers and more chances to put the football in spots where his receivers can make plays.
Dallas' offense in 2014 is the epitome of what the 2016 Cowboys want to become. When the Cowboys were on the clock with the fourth pick in the draft, it was clear that the team was down to two players: Ezekiel Elliott or Jalen Ramsey. The Cowboys decided to go against the general consensus about running backs and pick one in the top five. Missing out on an elite defensive back like Ramsey may obviously hurt the team in the future, but the difference between the two players is that Elliott will help the team in more ways than one, the biggest being helping the Cowboys become more two-dimensional.
With three All-Pros at 25 years old on the offensive line and a back like Elliott who can simply do it all in or out of the backfield, Romo will have all of the tools to perhaps have his best statistical season... ever. Dallas has seen the dividends an offense like the 2014 one can have on an entire roster.
The Cowboys are going to pound the football, using all of their resources at the running back position (not just Elliott). Dallas' ability to run the football with success will lead to defenses stacking the box. This will lead to open opportunities for Romo to work with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Cole Beasley in the passing game.
When you take Romo away from the Cowboys, the team becomes one that doesn't have much bite. That was the case in 2015. Any team in the NFL will become worse from losing their starting quarterback, but the Cowboys may be the team that hurts the most without theirs. That's how vital Romo is to the Cowboys.
His efficiency has only improved since he entered the NFL and that all has to do with his commitment to improving and the number one goal of bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to the Dallas Cowboys. Romo's improvement can be seen in his quarterback rating and passer rating from the 2014 season. In that year, his quarterback rating was 83.6. His previous best quarterback rating was 66.5, which came in 2007. Also in that year, his passer rating was 113.2. His previous best passer rating was 102.5, which came in 2011.
In 2016, the Cowboys hope Romo will continue to age like a fine wine and turn in numbers that top even his 2014 season, the best of his career.