The start of the Dallas Cowboys season is right around the corner, meaning, among other things, the constant overvaluing or overvaluing of quarterback Tony Romo. Quarterbacks around the league generally receive either too much praise or too much blame for the win or loss of their team, but it seems with Romo, it is even more extreme than most other teams. While the overreactions of fans over their QB may never change, his play must change in order for him to lead his team to a Super Bowl and maybe quiet a few doubters in the process.
First off, Tony Romo is at least a top 12 quarterback in this league. After going undrafted out of the University of Central Michigan, Romo has made quite a career for himself as the man in charge of the Dallas Cowboys’ offense. Every year he plays, he puts up good numbers, including last year; he was 3rd in passing yards per game, 3rd in passes completed, and 6th in passing touchdowns in 2012.
Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, Romo had a few glaring deficiencies last year. He led the league in interceptions, was sacked the 6th most times, and lost the 3rd most yards due to those sacks. Granted, sacks are due to multiple reasons including a poor offensive line (which the Cowboys have), the receivers’ inability to get open and give Romo a place to throw the ball, or Romo simply holding on to the ball for too long. Last season there was a nasty combination of the three, which led to Romo’s gaudy sack totals.
For Romo to take the next step, he must cut down on his interceptions this season. Interceptions go on the stat sheet of the quarterback, but Romo must get help from the players around him in order for the Cowboys to be a better offense. The running game, second to last in the NFL last year in total yards, must improve so the offense can be balanced and allow Romo to utilize the play action pass.
But in all honesty, the Cowboys’ season rests on the play of Tony Romo. After receiving a six year, $108 million contract this off season, the Cowboys have clearly committed to Romo as their quarterback and now it is up to Romo to prove the Cowboys right. As mentioned earlier, Romo has always been able to put up stats, but this year he has to be able to turn those stats into victories, and hopefully for Cowboys fans those victories become playoff wins as well.
The biggest improvement Romo must make is his play at the end of games. He can make all of the plays to get his Cowboys ahead, but then the 4th quarter hits and it’s like something happens to the Dallas quarterback that doesn’t let him make those same plays. I don’t know what it is, but it seems to be a constant problem for him and the rest of the team. Until he is able to make those plays at the end of games and lead his Cowboys to wins that they shouldn’t really get, then this Dallas team will continue to underperform.
With that huge contract also comes a sense of leadership thrust onto Romo. Fans have always watched Romo and seen a player who gets excited when things are going his way, but gets very pouty if something goes wrong for him or his team. In order for him to be the quarterback to lead his team to Super Bowl victories, he must have control of the huddle every time he goes out onto the field, no matter what the circumstances of the game.
He has done a good job of that this preseason, going over routes with his young receivers while the offense is on the sideline and doing everything he can to ensure he’s on the same page as his young receivers. He has seemingly taken on those leadership responsibilities on the sideline as well, getting his team fired up and ready to go back out onto the field and score on every possession.
That type of leadership is what this Cowboys team needs. It has been a team that always gets attention no matter what they do, but they have struggled in past seasons because it has been a disjointed locker room. Perhaps Romo, with his newly found sense of leadership and responsibility on this team, can bring the locker room together and help the team play up to its always high potential. His play late in games, along with his leadership and continued good counting stats, are the quickest way for Romo to go about justifying his massive contract and reward Cowboys ownership for their faith in him.
Tony Romo will play a huge role in controlling just how long the Cowboys’ season lasts; Dallas fans are hoping the season ends with him holding up the Lombardi trophy at the end of the season.