During Sunday’s Dallas Cowboys Blue and White Scrimmage, owner and general manager Jerry Jones had some very interesting things to say about quarterback Tony Romo and his past actions in the huddle. Jones was interviewed by Brad Sham and Mickey Spagnola during their live commentary of the scrimmage, which was simulcast on dallascowboys.com and during the Ben & Skin radio show on 105.3 The Fan.
Dec 11, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) meets with owner Jerry Jones prior to the game against the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
When asked about what he was looking forward to the most in the scrimmage and about Romo’s touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten from earlier in the practice, Jones expressed his confidence in Romo:
"“If you look at our stats, we have been so productive over the years when Romo is in here literally making the calls. (He’s) got an idea, right now, of what he’s going to be going with. And really running the offense down the field. That’s one of the things that really got us encouraged too. Cause we think he’s at that stage in his career where he can do a lot of this on the field for us, not just in two minute drill situations.”"
After a quick play call by Sham, Jones continued with his thoughts. But it is here where I think he went off the rails a bit and revealed more about the quarterbacks past actions then he probably wanted to:
"“The trade offs that we’re having here is if we will incorporate a lot of the things that Romo likes, then the trade off is that he will never draw one up in the huddle again. (commentators laugh) And that is the trade off. Seriously. I say that with a straight face. But that’s the deal. If we practice them, we practice them on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. If we practice them here in training camp, we won’t be drawing anymore plays up in the huddle, in the dirt. And that should help us not make mistakes. That should help his receivers know more what to do. Help him have a better feel for where the defense is going to be. I think it’s gonna be a win-win.”"
What Jones is implying here is despite the well-publicized offensive wizardry of head coach Jason Garrett, that Romo had a tendency to simply create his own plays in the huddle. Drawing up plays “in the dirt” as Jones so eloquently put it, like you do when your playing with your buddies in the backyard.
This brings up all kinds of questions about the Cowboys past offensive problems: Was Romo frustrated by Garrett’s repetitive play calls? How successful was Romo’s off-the-cuff play-calling? Did this cause a rift between Garrett and Romo? If so, could it be the catalyst for why Bill Callahan will be the new offensive play-caller this season? Did Romo feel like he could override the head coach whenever he didn’t like a play? And how much of the Cowboy offensive inconsistency can be contributed to this? Did the Cowboys ever lose a game or games because Romo called his own plays?
And this statement also seems to clear up a bit of the picture concerning Jones’ earlier statements about Romo’s work ethic. Saying Tony needed to put more time in during practices, film study and in the locker room. He called it “Peyton Manning-type time”.
Jones continued in his interview to make it clear that he does not want Romo drawing up plays in the dirt anymore:
"“Let’s make a deal, so to speak. No more creating plays in the huddle. Let’s create them on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Or let’s create them in training camp. Incorporate them as part of your base, of which everybody here with, Romo’s experience (in) Garrett offense, knows the base.”"
How much would you like to bet that this little issue came up during contract extension discussions? Sounds a bit like Romo already thinks he’s an offensive coordinator, doesn’t it? But realistically, how many NFL quarterbacks do you think call their own plays from time-to-time? I’m sure Peyton Manning does. In fact, you could probably fire the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator right now and they’d still play the same this season.
But Jones clearly thinks this is something that Romo needs to stop doing in the huddle, if he’s going to grow as a quarterback. And the coaches are incorporating the plays into their existing playbook that Romo liked to run when Garrett’s play-calling wasn’t cutting it. I guess that’s what they meant when they said they wanted him to be more involved in the offensive play-calling scheme. Buy hey, if Romo doesn’t like what Callahan and Garrett come up with, there’s always the dirt!