Playing quarterback in the National Football League takes an ample amount of risk and reward. The job of the quarterback is to manage the risk to be rewarded with big plays and touchdowns. The challenge is to know when the risk outweighs the reward. This risk and reward management has been the bane on existence for Cowboys fans and their quarterback Tony Romo.
Tony Romo is the personification of a roller coaster, when it comes to the quarterback position. He had incredible highs and devastating lows. The problem is that these roller coaster rides happen so frequently, they can manifest game to game, or even worse quarter to quarter. With Romo, the good plays result in yards and touchdowns, while the bad plays result in interceptions, fumbles and scores for the other team.
The main problem with Tony Romo is that the good plays and the bad plays can be mixed together. Looking at the most recent game against the Carolina Panthers, Romo threw a touchdown pass to Miles Austin, which seems like a good play when you examine the end result. The truth of the matter is the pass was a mistake and never should have been thrown in the first place. Carolina was in a deep man coverage, and Austin ran a streak down the sideline. The Carolina defender was step for step with Austin, but Romo threw the ball anyway. The Carolina defender never looked back for the ball, as it floated over his head into the outstretched arms of Austin for a score. Had the Carolina defender looked back, or even put his hands up the play could have been blocked or much worse.
The difficulty of being a Dallas Cowboys fan, is that the play resulted in a touchdown because of superior talent and lack of awareness by the defender. We celebrated the touchdown as a fan, but if any of the alternatives happened, the reaction would be much different. There en lies the crux of the Tony Romo conundrum. He is a risk taker and his risk management skills have been very low to poor during his tenure as the Cowboys quarterback.
Romo’s idol growing up was Brett Favre, who Romo has many similarities to. Favre is the NFL all time leader in touchdown passes, but is also the leader in interceptions thrown. The touchdown to interception ratio is where the risk management portion of the quarterback position comes into play. The touchdown passes need to outweigh the interceptions and those interceptions can not take points off the board or set the other team up for points off those turnovers.
The fix for Tony Romo is difficult because his plays, when good like the one against Carolina, are celebrated but still need attention to assess the decision making process. The risk/reward possibilities need to be examined for each aspect of the play. Romo has a unique ability to make plays when there is nothing there, but it is that mentality of trying to make the big play that leads to disasters down the road.Turnovers in the red zone, trying to stretch a play and losing a fumble, or throwing across the body into traffic are all things that Tony Romo does on a consistent basis. The problem with Romo is that he has the athletic ability to make these plays work some of the time, and when he does he is hailed as a gunslinger and praised by the fans, media and coaches. However when the plays do not work, they result in horrific consequences for the Cowboys and he is labeled as reckless.
There are many factors that are causes of the up and down play of Tony Romo throughout the season. Drops by the receivers, missed blocks by the offensive line and coaching decisions are all factors in the need for Romo to take unnecessary risks. Even with all the other factors involved, ultimately, it is the job of the quarterback to weigh the risk versus the reward and decide on the best possible outcome.
The most important role a quarterback plays is the manager of the football team. He has to manage the risk and reward for each play and decision made during the course of a game. The difficulty in risk management on the football field is knowing when to take the risk and when to live for another down. Red zone turnovers take points off the board and turnovers in your own end of the field result in points for the other team. There are also throws a quarterback makes that cannot be made because if they are intercepted there is no one to stop the defensive player from returning it for a score. These are a few examples of decisions that can effect the outcome of games. The quarterback must manage the game and the plays to make sure that none of those disasters happen. Poor management has many factors outside the control of the quarterback, but it is the quarterback’s decision and the glory and the blame all fall on his shoulders. Tony Romo grew up idolizing a risk taker, like Brett Favre, and puts himself in the same mentality on the football field. From a fans prospective, Romo has given us good and bad moments, but sometimes the two merge together into the same plays. To live as a Cowboys supporter, or a Tony Romo fan, if you do not criticize the risks he takes even when they work, then you cannot place blame when the same risk backfires later on.
In week 1 Tony Romo controlled those risks and took advantage of a Giants Secondary that was decimated by injury. This Sunday Romo will have to do the same risk management skills he shows in that first game, for the Cowboys to pull off the season sweep of the Giants.