Article by: Artie Cappello
When Tony Romo took over for Drew Bledsoe at half-time in October 2006, his first pass was intercepted. We in Cowboys Nation didn’t care, we were tired of Bledsoe. If you watched the game, the game was winnable until Tony’s third interception of the half. Again, and I think I speak for most Cowboys fans, we didn’t care. Tony Romo was new. We were asking for a changing of the guard and we got it.
It’s was OK that he was raw. He was also mobile, fun, and a gun slinger. Always had a smile on his face, our own Brett Favre. For older fans, he reminded us of Roger the Dodger, Roger Staubach. And Romo played well, the game wasn’t too big for the kid. We had found a worthy heir to the Dallas Cowboys QB Thrown. Staubach and Troy Aikman approved, so the bandwagon was quickly assembled and we all jumped on it. The media broke out the anointing oil despite coach Bill Parcells warning them to put it away.
The Cowboys made the playoffs that year, lead by our undrafted free agent out of AA Eastern Illinois. This was a Cinderella story in the making.
Then the fumbled snap… No Cinderella story.
Tony was devastated. Bill Parcells was devastated too and when faced with the prospect of coaching a player with so much talent potentially making such a critical mistake in the future with the game or maybe the season on the line, he quit. (recently commented that Tony Romo’s gift is his curse) I wish he’d have stayed. Tony played arguably his best football the next season. The talent of the rest of the team around him was the best he played with including now. With Parcells’ coaching, that was their best chance of going to the Superbowl to date.
Because of what Romo had accomplished in just ten games in 2006, he probably shouldn’t have been holding for the Kicker anyway, the fans and the media gave him a mulligan (look Tony, a golf term) in 2007 and he played well… mostly.
Tony Romo was getting the breaks in 2007 for sure. He threw 5 interceptions against the Buffalo Bills, but still won the game. The Cowboys and Romo were on a roll into the playoffs. Best record in the NFC and a first round bye. Then the New York Giants come to town and they unleash a pass rush that rattles Tony and takes him out of his comfort zone. (no team had been able to do that before, did they just create the blueprint on how to play him?). He looked shaky at times.
Even though the Cowboys lost that game because their defense let the Giants score a touchdown with 40 seconds left in the half, and Patrick Crayton dropped a pass on one play and gave up on his route not expecting Tony to throw to him for an almost sure touchdown on another, still- because the QB looked rattled- he got the blame.
That blame wouldn’t have been put on him if he hadn’t made another critical mistake. He spent the Playoff bye week in Mexico chillin by the pool instead of taking an extra week studying the playbook or at least staying under the radar (then again, how do you stay under the radar when your dating Jessica Simpson). Now all of a sudden, all anyone remembers is he threw an interception on the last play in another playoff loss.
Doubters and second guessers began to put away the anointing oil. The Danny White comparisons started, which is kinda funny because, while Danny White was not as talented as Tony Romo, he had way more post season success. ( Danny White’s style of play was actually more like Troy Aikman’s. Don’t believe me?, watch them play and compare)
Tony Romo’s next three years after that were a blur and can be summed up with the title of a Clint Eastwood movie. That’s right.. The Good, Bad and The Ugly. The Good were wins at Kansas City and New Orleans and back to back wins against Philadelphia. The Bad were losses to Denver and Washington and Tennessee and most all the losses really. And the Ugly were losses to Arizona (Romo’s broken finger. Not to mention McBriar’s broken foot), the 44 to 6 beating by Philadelphia in the Playoff Bowl 2008 (and the infamous “If this is the worst that happens to me I’ll be fine” speech); Minnesota’s 34 to 3 playoff drubbing; to Green Bay, where the entire team quit on Wade. (I threw that one in even though Tony didn’t play in it, because it was the most significant game the Dallas Cowboys played in the last three years)
Now we have his performance last Sunday. Another critical mistake. The interception (not the fumble). Man I was pissed! So, I set out for this story to nail Romo to a wall. Too many critical mistakes for me. I went back to compile evidence of his blunders, and I found them, recounting some of them in this story. It was easy, they were always there. I also found some other stuff…good stuff that’s easy to forget when Romo goes off the reservation.
Here’s some things I found: Four years BR. (before Romo) The Cowboys won 30 games. The four years AR.(after Romo) 39 games. So it seems we win more games with Romo than we do without him. The more wins, the more likely to get to the playoffs, right? Right, because in that same four year span AR. the Cowboys made the playoffs 3 out of the 4 years. The four years prior (BR.) they went once.
Those numbers don’t always reflect just the QB, so in just looking at Tony Romo’s performance over his starting career I’ll see the inconsistencies of his up and down play, right? Wrong. Romo’s QB has consistently ranked 5th or 8th in the league with ratings in the 90’s, with his lowest in 2008 91.4-while QB’s like Ben Roethlisberger posted an 80.1 that year and Matt Ryan an 87.7. Romo’s highest in ’09 was 97.6, in that year he threw 2 less touchdowns than Tom Brady but 4 less interceptions.
Couple more things popped out at me. In 2006 his QB rating of 95.1 was better than Brady’s 87.9 or River’s 92 . In 2007, only Tom Brady threw more touchdowns than Romo. Lastly, in 2005, Drew Bledsoe’s last full year as Dallas Cowboys QB, Drew’s rating was 83.7-Good for 17th place. Last year Jon Kitna rated a 88.9, good for 14th.
Stats and ratings, of course, can be construed to benefit the point of view. In my case, I had a change of heart writing this story. Reviewing Tony Romo’s career and his stats reminded me what I like about him and just how good he really is.