IRVING, Texas – Tony Romo might be taking on another duty this week, but when it comes to his actual position of quarterback, it sounds like there could be less on his plate than in previous games.
No, he's still got the Baltimore Ravens with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the rest of the gang staring him in the face as he enters M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday. And he's also likely to be the holder on field goals with the Cowboys having two injured punters.
But Romo said last week that he was trying to do too much offensively out there against the Bears, who picked him off five times, tying his own career-high. Of course, the last time it happened, Romo was able to come back and win that game at Buffalo in 2007.
This time, the Cowboys had two weeks to sit and stew over their 34-18 loss. And, it's actually the second straight year that Romo and his team limped into the bye week at 2-2. Don't forget the 27-point lead Dallas blew against Detroit last year, a game in which Romo threw three second-half interceptions.
Yet, Romo only threw five picks in the remaining 12 contests of 2011, playing some of the best football of his career after last year's bye. That's obviously what he's hoping for again, starting this week.
"It's about winning games, that doesn't change," Romo said. "We're working on things to get better. Your team keeps changing every year. You're trying to find out what you do well and what the team can handle. You're always re-evaluating things week to week and year to year."
One of the things the Cowboys can do is run the football much better. The team is currently 29th in the NFL in rushing. Since DeMarco Murray ran for 131 yards in Week 1 against the Giants, he has only earned 106 yards combined over Dallas' last three outings, and has yet to get more than 50 yards in one game.
Offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who also serves as the offensive coordinator and constructs the weekly game plan, said a "less is more approach" could be used with Romo on Sunday against the Ravens.
"As time moves on, you watch a lot of these quarterbacks like [Tom] Brady and [Eli] Manning, they do a lot in their systems," Callahan said. "They control the ball, they no huddle, they're up at the line of scrimmage, a lot of code words, a lot of things taking place at the line. So that position is always going to require a lot. When you try to get everybody together and study everybody and get more consistency and try to get better execution, sometimes the answer is to kind of pull back a little bit. Less is better in our minds. We're trying to get to that point."
Callahan said the Cowboys want to be able to do that without hindering the aggressive nature of their starting quarterback.
"We're not taking things away from Tony and what he does best because he's got great command of this system," Callahan said. "He does an outstanding job communicating calls or changing plays. He's got a real uniqueness that I've found watching him play since I've been here. [Head coach] Jason [Garrett] and [quarterbacks coach] Wade Wilson do a great job with his reads in the passing game. It's simplistic. It's not very complicated. His progression is pretty simple, so we try not to make it really taxing on him mentally. He has a good feel for it."
Garrett, who is still the play-caller on game day, said Romo's feeling of wanting to do too much likely stems from the pressure of not being a balanced offense in both phases.
"Oh, it makes a great deal of sense," said Garrett, a former quarterback of 10 years. "When you don't run the football, when you're behind the chains a little bit and you're the guy who has the ball in his hands on every play, there's a natural instinct if you're a great competitor like Tony is to say, 'hey I can do something, I can fix this.' And ultimately, when you do that at any position, particularly at the quarterback position, you set yourself up for some difficult situations.
"He just has to go back and be 1/11th of the offense like he's been throughout most of his career and do his job and trust everybody else to do their job."