Last week, I read a news story about someone noticing a goat-man in a field with some goats somewhere out west. As it turned out, it was just some nutcase dressed in a goat suit preparing for a goat hunting trip, but it made me think of Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback Tony Romo.
OK, let me explain. We have all heard many times that the quarterback receives too much credit for the victories and too much blame for the losses. But, in review of the 2011 season, it appears to me that Romo received too much blame for the losses and did not receive corresponding credit for the victories.
Let’s cover when Romo was “the goat” first, such as in the losses to the Jets and Lions. Yes, he did turn the ball over at critical times during those games, but this is a team effort. And when others on the team are not doing their job, it reflects on the quarterback’s ability to do his. After those games, Romo was able to limit turnovers by, as he said, not trying to make up for other’s mistakes.
Let me expand on that. Romo was trying to make a play even though his receivers ran the wrong routes. Once he determined not to put it all on himself, his interception rate decreased. This allowed for the emergence of Laurent Robinson as the third receiver and was why he replaced Kevin Ogletree . Robinson was someone Tony could depend on to be where he was supposed to be.
So, with Dez Bryant still out there running all over the place, his disappearance in games was likely because Romo could not trust him to run the right routes. When you add to that Miles Austin’s hamstring issues, Tony did not have a lot of options. That one play against the Giants, if made, would have projected the Cowboys into the playoffs and left the Giants sitting at home instead. I don’t believe Romo overthrew Austin and I doubt lights were the issue. I think Austin’s hamstring issues kept him from getting to the ball. Yet, there are those that believe it was simply Tony making another mistake by over-throwing his receiver.
Now let’s address credit for what Romo did accomplish in 2011. Despite the previously described issues with the receivers and a young and inexperienced offensive line, the Cowboys still had an opportunity to get into the playoffs. I will always have images in my mind of Tony running away from a free defender while trying to make a play and the many times he succeeded.
I will always remember Romo coming back into that game against the 49’ers and pulling out a victory, despite two broken ribs and a punctured lung. And then he continuing to play in ensuing weeks as the ribs were healing, while continuing to take hits.
What was the result? Romo had the best statistical year and highest quarterback ranking of his career. His ranking was fourth in the league behind quarterbacks that were better protected by their offensive lines. Despite that, we continue to hear how Tony can’t win the big game and doesn’t get it done in the playoffs.
There are even those that think it is time for the Cowboys to move on and draft a top quarterback, or for Kyle Orton to replace Romo as the starter. Again, it’s a team game and along with the previously described issues with the offensive line and receiving corps, the defense could not stop anyone when it counted and played worse as the season progressed.
So, let’s give Tony his due and recognize him for the great player he is, which has always been surprising to me considering he wasn’t even drafted. Let us also hope that Jerry Jones has surrounded him with enough talent on both sides of the ball to allow him to fully go where his ability can take him and this team.
Yeah, it’s a team game.