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Cowboys Mailbag: September 14, 2011

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@14TheMoney: Do you think the criticism bothers Tony Romo? And if people keep saying he's a choke artist, does he start to believe it, like a self-fulfilling prophesy?

Rob: Romo's been hearing this stuff for six seasons now. If it doesn't bother him by now – and I don't believe it does – it shouldn't ever. I keep going back to this with Romo: his impulse decisions have been an on-and-off issue for nine years, and the two turnovers Sunday were inexcusable, really. But he's a little like Brett Favre in that you take the good with the bad. The aggressive part of his makeup is what makes him so good most of the time. He's also been pretty good in the fourth quarter over his career, but as usual, things get a little distorted around here because he plays in the shadow of Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. Just like Danny White, nothing will be quite good enough unless he wins a ring. That's just the way it is in Dallas, and he understands that.

Josh: No, I don't think it bothers him, and I don't think his fourth quarter episodes are happening at any increased rate. People say he always makes them in the big games, on the big stage, but the fact is the Cowboys play on national TV every other game, just about, so they all seem like big games. He's won a lot of them over the years, actually, and played well in some fourth quarters. This will work itself out over the season.

@DALCowboyyyy: What did Jason Hatcher do to win a starting job? Was he playing like a starter last year and earlier, or did he win it by default?

Rob: Good question. Keep in mind that Marcus Spears is coming off a groin injury, and the Cowboys plan to rotate their defensive linemen a lot anyway, so it could be a bit of a fluid situation. But Hatcher was active in preseason and against the Jets. He worked a lot on his quickness and his conditioning in the offseason and it appears to be paying off. He's always been a natural pass rusher; if he can stop the run on a consistent basis, he'll continue to be a big part of the rotation.

Josh: Well, he won the job outright in training camp and the preseason. He was more disruptive than either Kenyon Coleman or Marcus Spears, or Igor Olshansky for that matter. The upside has always been high for Hatcher because he is pretty gifted physically. Maybe a light bulb has come on. It's kind of a matter of whether he can stay healthy and keep his motor up.

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