To me the answer is simple Mr. GM, President and Owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones. The first decision that needs to be made for the 2013 team is the following.
Keep Romo or let him go. Then you can go from there.
In order to make an educated decision we should take a look back and learn from history. Not Cowboy history, but teams that have been successful in the last decade or so.
In the last 9 Super Bowls the winning Quarterbacks have been the following:
Tom Brady won 2
Eli Manning won 2
Ben Roethlisberger won 2
Aaron Rodgers won 1
Drew Brees won 1
Peyton Manning won 1
Wow what a group. Although, Ben Roethlisberger does not often hear the word Elite said around his name, you would be hard pressed to find any fan who would not want him leading their team with the game on the line within the last 2 minutes of any playoff game or Super Bowl.
I think we would all agree Romo does not belong in this class of Quarterbacks. So if the decision is to keep him anyway then perhaps looking back to a Super Bowl 10 years ago would help provide some answers. That would be Super Bowl 37.
This was the first super bowl in which the number one ranked offense, The Oakland Raiders, played the number one ranked defense, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers prevailed with Brad Johnson at the helm by a score of 48 to 21. Brad Johnson, elite Quarterback? No but that defense sure was.
One year later in Super Bowl 36 we once again find our elite quarterback at the helm, Tom Brady, as the Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams, 20-17.
And then there was Super Bowl 35, the Baltimore Ravens played and won by a score of 34-7 over the New York Giants. The quarterback for the Ravens was Trent Dilfer. Elite, hardly but once again there was that league leading Raven defense in many categories (2nd best in allowing yards) led by none other than Ray Lewis. On defense, it does not get any more elite than Ray Lewis.
So it seems pretty simple, not a lot of algorithmic calculations here for my MoneyBall NFL calculation for Jerry Jones.
If you want to win a Super Bowl; you better have an elite quarterback and if you don’t, you better have an elite defense.
The Cowboys have neither and thus mire in mediocrity and will continue to do so unless they begin to get this concept. Their offense can play exceptional at times but falters way too often; the same goes for their defense even when it’s healthy.
Now back to our choice.
Keep Romo = you better build a number one defense.
Cut Romo = only if you can get an elite quarterback to replace him.
Elite Quarterbacks are a valued commodity and not easy to find and unfortunately we missed a great crop of young talented quarterbacks in 2012. So the best course of action in the near term might be to re-sign Romo and build an elite defense through free agency and the draft.
The good news is on the defensive front, the Cowboys may not be far off with young and upcoming stars such as Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and Morris Claiborne; along with existing key players, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer (he will be re-signed) and Brandon Carr. However, they desperately need help at the Safety position and must add more talent and depth on the Defensive Line.
In the end, Cowboy’s Defensive Coach, Rob Ryan, had it right all along.
In week seven, when Middle Linebacker Sean Lee, the defensive leader of the Cowboys, was diagnosed with a season ending injury, it was rumored that upon hearing the news, Rob Ryan cried. I suspect a big part of his tears was the realization that it was now going to be up to the offense lead by Tony Romo. Unfortunately, we all now know how that ends; millions of Cowboy fans crying along with Rob, including Tony Romo himself.