With Troy Aikman’s retirement after the 2000 season, the Dallas Cowboys had a huge void at the quarterback position. Players that manned the position after Aikman were Randall Cunningham, Quincy Carter, Anthony Wright, Ryan Leaf, Clint Stoerner, Chad Hutchinson, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Henson, and Drew Bledsoe. Tony Romo was the player that solidified the quarterback position for the team in 2006, after coming in to relieve Drew Bledsoe in the second half of a Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants. I was at that game with my mother, and remember thinking at how much better the offense looked with Romo than with Bledsoe.
Romo signed with the club as an undrafted free agent after the 2003 draft, and was on the verge of getting cut multiple times before finally breaking through in 2006. Romo led the team to the playoffs in 2006, 2007 and 2009. Romo also was selected to the Pro Bowl those same seasons.
While being one the best quarterbacks in franchise history, Romo is often given much blame for the team’s lack of success during his tenure as starting QB. The 2006 season ended with the botched hold on a field goal attempt in Seattle. The 2007 team that had a 13-3 season ended in Dallas when the team couldn’t capitalize on opportunities throughout the game and lost to eventual champion New York Giants. The 2009 season gave the team it’s only playoff victory this decade with a home victory against Philadelphia, followed by a bad loss on the road in Minnesota when the offensive line could not get any protection for Romo. Romo suffered a broken left clavicle early in the 2010 season and was lost for the year. The 2011 season ended against the Giants with a loss on the road (31-14) that would have put the team in the postseason had the Cowboys won. The 2012 season ended against the Redskins with another loss on the road (21-18) that had the team won would have put it in the playoffs. Romo threw an interception at the 3:00 mark of the final quarter that sealed the loss.
While Romo makes mistakes at crucial moments that cost the team, had it not been for Romo’s brilliance earlier in the game, the game would not even be close for Romo’s mistake in the final moments to even matter.
Romo isn’t like a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, but more like a LeBron James. Jordan and Bryant lived for the clutch situations with the game on the line, and then thrived once in the moment. James and Romo are similar in that they can keep a game close and can sometimes close it out on their own brilliance. However, there will also be plenty of times where they will come up short if it solely up to them. James would have lost the 2012 finals in game 6 to the Spurs this past season had it not been for Ray Allen hitting some clutch shots at the end of that game. In 2011, OKC played the Heat tough in the finals, but the Heat beat them in five games because of ridiculous shooting from Shane Battier and Mike Miller throughout the series and especially the closeout in Game 5. Because James had the right teammates, he’s now a two-time champion and his place in history is secure. Had James not won, he would still be the most criticized and scrutinized athlete in the world today. That mantle now belongs to Tony Romo and Dwight Howard of the NBA. Make no mistake about it; Romo is a top 10 quarterback in the NFL. The following are the few I would take over Romo:
That’s it. That’s the list of guys I would choose over Romo. Football isn’t basketball or baseball where guys force their ways to free agency and switch teams often. It’s rare when a franchise quarterback hits the open market. Only Peyton Manning did, and that was due to his age and trying to come back from a neck injury that most experts felt he would not be successful.
Tony Romo has his nicknames, most notably “Roller Coaster Romo”, and “Tony OHno”. However, until the team decides to use a premium pick on a quarterback in the draft, they won’t find a better one to run this team. In the 2012 draft the Seattle Seahawks used the 75th overall selection to pick Russell Wilson. The Cowboys went ahead and used the 81st selections on Tyrone Crawford. What if the Cowboys had moved up and selected Russell? The team could have preserved massive cap space that instead went to Romo on a huge contract extension. Regardless, Romo is the quarterback for the foreseeable future, and fans need to embrace it. Jerry Jones runs the team, so we must get on the Romo Coaster, and enjoy the ride. The loss to Denver this past Sunday was sad, but the team lost because the defense was so sorry they allowed the Broncos to ring up 51 points. Had Romo not had a career game, the loss would have been much worse. Only due to Romo’s brilliance was the team even close, yet Romo didn’t get the help he needed to get the team over the top. What if Escobar ran a better route and came back to the ball, what if the offensive line blocked better on that play, what if someone else got open? Tony Romo stood toe to toe with the best quarterback of this generation for 58 minutes, and almost pulled the team to victory. If you want to put blame on Romo and don’t see where the blame really belongs, then I suggest getting your eyes checked or learning a little more about the game of football.
Follow Craig Cortemeglia on Twitter at @ccortemegliaTLH