The internet is alive with various opinions on what Cowboys Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones meant when he said, several times I might add, that Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo needs Peyton Manning (or Roger Staubach) like involvement in the offensive game plan. Some feel this was Jerry’s way of telling Romo that he needs to spend more time at the Cowboys’ facilities and less time doing things like, for instance, playing golf. In in the opinion of some, Jerry was calling him out. I could not disagree more.
Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) reacts to a play on the sidelines during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Of all the rumors flying around on this issue, I tend to believe the one about Romo asking for more involvement in the offensive game plan during negotiations for his new contract. In keeping with that, it would not be a stretch to also believe that Romo has voluntarily given up some of his golf activities so that he can be more involved with the team during this offseason, as he asked to be.
So, what does this extra involvement mean? Opinions vary from Romo having more input on the game plan being developed during the week to him being the “de facto” offensive coordinator, putting the game plan together and calling all the plays on the field himself. I suspect the truth, as is usually the case, is somewhere between these two scenarios. The way I see it shaking out is Romo being involved with the offensive coaches in creating the game plan during the week and having the ability, as he always had, to change the play at the line of scrimmage.
We still don’t know for sure who will call the plays to be sent in from the sideline, but how much does that really matter? As long as Romo has the ability to change the play at the line, based on what he is seeing from the defense, any play sent in is subject to being changed, which decreases the importance of the play initially called. However, Romo’s increased involvement in the game planning during the week increases the possibility that the play sent in will be a good one and not have to be changed, no matter who is sending it in.
Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett talks with quarterback Tony Romo during a timeout from the game against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
“Experts” in the media, you know, the ones that couldn’t play and can’t coach, but still somehow make people believe they know what they’re talking about, are saying that Romo calling the plays would be a disaster. They must not have watched the same games I did last year. It is difficult to quantify the success of plays changed at the line of scrimmage because, for instance, Romo might have seen a look from the defense that indicated coverage tilted towards the pass, so he changed the play to a run. But unfortunately, the line did not block very well, so there was no gain on the run.
It is easier to quantify what happened when Romo had to go to the two minute offense several times, for a large portion of the game, because they were way behind on the scoreboard. In those instances, the offensive comeback was nothing short of amazing. And the play calling was all Romo, because there is no time in the two minute offense to send plays in from the sideline. I was very adamant in my columns last season about needing to see more of the two minute offense as a regular part of the game plan, because of this success.
And for those that say Romo should not have this much input because he has never won anything, I say they have no understanding of the team concept. No matter how great your quarterback is, you have to put some quality around him to succeed. Look no further than the career of Dan Marino as proof. No, I am not saying Romo is as good as Marino was (although Romo is a better scrambler). But I am saying that if you put a good team around him, he can do some really good things. Perhaps we will see evidence of that as soon as this coming season, because I think this roster and coaching staff have both been improved.
Either way, this is a team in transition, as it should be after two 8-8 seasons. Decisions are being made now that will determine how well the team does later. You may, or may not, like all of them, but changes had to be made because the status quo was unacceptable. That certainly applies to an offense that couldn’t run the ball and had trouble getting into the end-zone.