This may be an unpopular opinion among Redskins fans, but I like Tony Romo. I think he seems like a perfectly nice gentleman. As a quarterback, he is better than his reputation suggests. Last season, he threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 28 touchdowns on an injury-plagued team with a weak offensive line. That’s a pretty good season. Sure, I would rather have Aaron Rodgers or RG3 running my offense, but you could do a lot worse in the NFL. Still, I’m not ready to induct Romo into Canton. So when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones calls into a Sirius XM radio show and describes his vision of the Cowboys offense as one in which Romo assumes a Roger Staubach-like role, it is tough not to laugh.
Speaking with NFL.com writer Gil Brandt, Jones defended his quarterback:
“He’s played a lot of games now. He certainly had a lot of time on the job before he ever started and played. He has a unique grasp of our offensive concepts. The people who are around him the most – his coaches – tell me he’s never had a bad idea.” (emphasis mine)
A few comments on this while I repress Jessica Simpson jokes. First, there is a period in which college quarterbacks need tutelage before really understanding how NFL schemes work. For elite players like Andrew Luck or RG3, this time frame is a matter of months. Aaron Rodgers held a clipboard for three years before getting his chance with the Packers. Tony Romo has been in the league for ten seasons. He’s 33. We are beyond the point where experience is a benefit; the real question is how many more seasons his body will allow him to play.
Secondly, the most poignant criticism of Romo is that he too often has “bad ideas” in the pocket. He forces throws into coverage trying to “make a play.” Last season, he threw nineteen interceptions, tied for the most in the league. If you are a warm-blooded Redskins fan and can read that quote without a chuckle, you are a better person than I.
Finally, I would have less of a problem with the “never had a bad idea” quote if it came from the coaching staff. You know, one of the people who are around him so much. Jones just can’t help himself when it comes to making personnel decisions. Ask any Cowboys fan if they would like to hear more decisions articulated by Jerry Jones or less. You will understand what I mean.
“If you think about where he’s at right now, he’s 10 years older than most of the players we have on the field. We think his skill level right now is very much where we hoped it would be and will be for several years to come. But what we want to use more than we ever have is the kind of thing that Staubach contributed – input into designing a plan that helps us beat that opponent.”
Again, having a player that is “ten years older than most of the players” on the field is a great advantage when playing little league baseball. It’s less of an asset in professional football. It’s also a completely false assertion when you look at the Cowboys depth chart.
Romo better be at the skill level you think he is, Jerry. You think he is worth $108 million over the next six years. That is a lot to pay a quarterback entering, or perhaps already in, his decline phase. I don’t have a problem with the field general of the team involved in game plans or play-calling. Just don’t compare Romo to Staubach. You are opening yourself up to ridicule.
“You’ve got to do more than look at a couple of quick plays on Tuesday or Monday. You’ve got to get in and study, spend time and look at 100 plays to really have that input. We think he can bring that to the table. That will be a big change. He certainly has had input but not the kind of input he’s going to have going forward.”
That’s a big change? Does that mean Romo has just been skimming the playbook on Mondays in the past? No wonder he has only one career playoff victory.
“When you talk about a guy who’s been behind the center, they’ve seen it. They know what it looks like when it’s coming at them. They know how loud it is out there. Plus, we all know that when it’s your idea and you’ve got to execute it just seems to work better. We all do better when we’ve got some of our own proprietary input in it.”
Historical note: It was Jerry Jones’ idea to draft Felix Jones. How’s that for propriety?
Jerry talks about running the Cowboys’ offense like parents discuss the possibility of getting their children a puppy. If they show they are responsible for the next couple years, we can get one. It will mean more to them because they will know they earned it.
Jason Garrett has the worst coaching job in the league. He was promoted to head coach because he was a “play-calling genius.” After narrowly missing the playoffs last season, his responsibilities have quickly evaporated. Bill Callahan was hired as the offensive coordinator, a move that signals Jones’ displeasure with the direction of the team. Now the owner is asking that the quarterback have more influence over the game plan. For once, it is nice not to be the most dysfunctional team in the division.