Tony Romo just simply cannot win. He cannot win with his fans. He cannot win with analysts. Whatever he does, he will continuously be heavily scrutinized and ultimately his feats will be taken for granted.
Looking at Romo’s previous seven seasons in the league, he has had quarterback ratings of 95.1, 97.4, 91.4, 97.6, 94.9, 102.5, 90.5. That is an average of 97 which would easily place him as a top 10 quarterback in the league. Conversely, during that same time frame, Tom Brady is at 100 and Eli Manning is at 85.
If we look at his first four games this season, Romo had a completion percentage of 72%, with 8 touchdowns and only 1 interception. That equated to a 105 quarterback rating. Unfortunately for him, the prevailing thought from experts and analysts was that Romo was playing too conservative and needs to go back to being the “old” Romo. Just this morning on NFL Gameday Morning, Kurt Warner lauded Romo’s play, however he claimed that his risk taking ways need to return.
And now we sit here after a thrilling 51-48 defeat at the hands of the best team in the NFL, the Denver Broncos. Romo was absolutely masterful for 58 minutes of the game. He made some houdini-like plays, avoided rushers and pushed the ball downfield as well as he ever did. Romo connected with 8 different receivers and three of them had amassed over 120 yards. He not only broke his own Cowboys passing record yards with 506, but he came 45 yards away from Norm Van Brocklin’s record of 551. Whether it was man coverage or zone, Romo knew exactly where the ball needed to be and showed terrific precision on all of his throws. Well, almost all of them.
It was a story all too familiar for Romo and the Cowboys. Just last year, virtually the exact same play ended the Cowboys season in Washington. It ended up in yet another late game interception and, ironically, was by a linebacker just like today’s matchup against Denver. Kudos to Danny Trevathan for virtually sealing the game with a late interception on a great play in coverage against Jason Witten, who bested the 2nd year linebacker for all but one play through the entire game. With that said, Romo should not be vilified after what was easily his best game of his career against, arguably, the best quarterback of this era. Yes, we expect this from Romo and he surely is prone to these mistakes late in games. He has this tendency to over think during the late stages of the game and again it backfired. Did he cost the team the win? Absolutely not. He should not be void of criticism and there is definitely something to be said about his play he int dying moments. But in no conceivable fashion are the Cowboys in this game without his tremendous play throughout the entire game. The Dallas defense, for a second straight game, was putrid up the middle and was gashed all over the park by Julius Thomas and Eric Decker. Romo matched Manning play-for-play and was every bit as prolific as the future hall of famer
Because of his stature, his new contract and being the quarterback of the Cowboys, the media will focus on his one bad play more so than the bad plays of the likes of Cam Newton, Matt Schaub Eli Manning, Carson Palmer and other quarterbacks that have looked mediocre this season. It would be interesting to see which of these teams would still rather keep their under performing quarterbacks over Romo. I would venture and guess that Romo would win in each case.
Romo will always get the blame for whatever he does on the field. He couldn’t silence his detractors after his great start to the season and he surely won’t be able to after a five touchdown, one interception game where he threw for 506 yards. Unfortunately, that type of interception is the one that has plagued Romo during his entire career. Romo will never be able to win over the media and fans and that is unfair. His many feats (considering the great Dallas quarterbacks that have come before him), will continuously be taken for granted and looked passed because of his late game deficiencies.
His play is as good as any quarterback over the last seven seasons. He is a unique player and if you want the best of Romo, asking him to hold back is not conducive to his skill set. Similar to Brett Favre, with Romo, the team must take the good with the bad and asking him to temper his play, while not giving him an above average defense or a true commitment to the running game, is asking a great deal of him. The player that he is, a very good one at that, is due to his risk taking, willingness to keep the play alive and make big plays. It is unfortunate that for Romo gets criticism about his first four games and his newfound conservative style slowing down the Cowboys offense, yet that is what media, experts and fans wanted from him in the off-season.
Short of winning the big one, which only a few quarterbacks can do, Romo will never get the respect he deserves and will continuously damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.