This is a dangerous time during the offseason. Especially for Dallas Cowboys players. This is the time when many media members begin to speculate on whose the best player at their position simply because it’s a slow news day…or month. And, of course, the quarterback position is usually the first victim of their idle minds. And that can only mean more unwarranted Tony Romo bashing.
In a recent ESPN article, a group of NFL insiders were chosen to rank the top quarterbacks in the league. The group included eight general managers, two former general managers, four pro personnel evaluators, seven coordinators, two head coaches, two position coaches and a top executive.
“A few evaluators questioned whether Romo had the mind-set to play at the highest level consistently. It’s a familiar refrain in league circles, a feeling that Romo is an undisciplined QB playing for an undisciplined organization with a poorly constructed roster. ‘People want to knock him,” one GM responded, “but the guy has talent and is one of the top 10 starters in the league.’
Now whether Romo belongs higher lower on this list is a separate issue that I’ll address below. What was especially disturbing was the way his ranking was explained. In the few years I’ve been covering the Cowboys, nothing about Tony Romo speaks undisciplined to me. And that term would certainly not describe head coach Jason Garrett. In fact, the term “inexperienced” is probably more fitting to describe Garrett’s reign in Dallas. When I think undisciplined, I think about draft busts like quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf. But not Romo.
Romo is a natural athlete, whose football I.Q. is at an all-time high right now. And he has certainly grown into being another coach on the field and a locker room leader. He’s already statically the greatest quarterback in Cowboys history. But it’s Romo’s own ghosts of mistakes past that will continue to haunt him until he wins the big one. And it’s those incidents that fuel the criticism from the national media, friends and foes alike.
Now it’s hard to disagree with the poorly constructed roster portion of this quote. Especially with a general manager like Jerry Jones at the helm. As was evidenced by the parade of defensive lineman last yearn, the Cowboys roster has lacked quality depth. But this offseason, this squad feels more like Garrett’s team than ever before. And it’s now a roster chalk full of untapped potential and young talent like never before.
But of course, these Insiders had to get one last jab in before finishing their explanation of Romo’s ranking on this list.
“Romo is 34 years old and coming off back surgery, but he still could be in line for a “monster” season, one evaluator said. “But I absolutely believe they will not win big with him. As soon as he decides it’s a clutch moment, his brain goes elsewhere. He loses focus and tries to create something.”
As a fan who actually watches the Cowboys games, I agree that Romo seems to pick the most critical moments to make mistakes. But it’s his stellar play and Houdiniesque escapes out of a collapsing pocket are the main reasons this team is in contention in the first place. Without Romo, this Cowboys squad would be far worse off. Instead, we’ve been one win away from making the playoffs for three straight seasons. (This is certainly a glass half full mentality here)
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