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Roster Rundown: Romo Must Bounce Back From Surgery
Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players’ impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features quarterback Tony Romo.
Name: Tony Romo
Experience: 10 seasons
College: Eastern Illinois
Key stat: Romo’s touchdown-to-interception ratio of 31:10 was tied with 2011 for the best of his career. However, his average yards per game of 255 was also the lowest in his time as a full-time starter.
Contract Status: Signed through 2019.
2013 Impact: When a team fails to reach its goals of winning the division and thus misses the playoffs, the first thing we all focus on is how did the quarterback play? It’s not about the breakdowns on defense or injuries but about the quarterback play.
Fair or not, it is the nature of the position. As you look back on Tony Romo’s season, there were several games where statically, he was outstanding -- such as the Broncos game where he threw for a league’s best 506 yards, and the 51 completions against the Vikings. There were two comeback victories against the Vikings and Redskins with their playoff lives in the balance.
There were also some contests where he was not at his best. The Detroit and Chicago games come to mind in that regard. But what makes this season as difficult from the previous ones with him as the starting quarterback, that this was his best shot in three years to win the division. In my opinion, if Romo would have been able to suit up for that final game against the Eagles at AT&T Stadium, the outcome would have been very different. It was not that Kyle Orton was terrible that night, but he didn’t take advantage of several of the situations that Romo had been clutch in all season.
The biggest example was when the Cowboys drove into scoring territory with the ball inside the Eagles 26-yard line on three separate occasions but only managed nine points. The Eagles took advantage of their opportunities, while the Cowboys did not. With Romo, this offense was one of the best in the NFL when it came to finishing drives in the red zone. That night, Orton couldn’t do what Romo had done all season and this team paid for it.
With quarterbacks, I tend not to focus so much on the numbers, but how did they make the players around them better? The last three seasons, it has been more about Romo and him carrying the team, but this was the first season in a while where he had a running game in DeMarco Murray and an offensive line that gave him enough time to deliver the ball. But to my point, Dez Bryant continued to improve and grow as a player, while Terrance Williams made huge strides during his rookie season.
It doesn’t take a NFL scout to tell you how well that Bryant played overall, but you have to give Romo a great deal of credit not only working with Bryant but with Williams, as well.
No matter the situation, he showed just as much confidence in those two as he did with Jason Witten. Not matter the situation, Romo found ways to continue to get these players the ball and it was through his play that in the big picture will benefit this team going forward.
Where He Fits: The Cowboys will go into this season with Tony Romo once again as the starting quarterback and that is the good news. The bad news is that he is coming off a back surgery that cost him the final game of the 2013 season. All indications is that procedure appears to have been a success but we will not fully know how it affects him until we get to OTA’s and minicamps, then on to Oxnard, Calif., for training camp.
David Helman: I’ve said it several times at this point in the offseason: you have to give Tony Romo credit for playing one of his most efficient seasons in 2013. His 10 interceptions last season are tied for the second-lowest total of a season in which he started more than 10 games.
At the same time, the Cowboys’ offense last season just didn’t feel as dynamic as we’ve come to expect from Romo and Co. Credit is due to the offensive line and DeMarco Murray, but the stats don’t lie: the Cowboys were a middle-of-the-pack offense. As noted above, Romo’s yards per game in 2013 was the lowest total of his career as a full-time starter.
Maybe his back woes played a role in that, or maybe it was the scaled-back, West Coast style offense Bill Callahan likes to run, Either way, things can improve, and the hiring of Scott Linehan to call plays and coordinate the passing game seems like a response to that. We’ve talked a lot about Romo limiting his mistakes, but I don’t think the Cowboys can afford to sacrifice his explosiveness, either.