IRVING, Texas -I won't add to the national Tony Romo dogpile here. It's starting to reach LeBron James proportions, which is a little ridiculous considering that Sunday was Week 1, and not the NBA Finals.
So when I say it's time to reassess expectations for Romo, it's not because I no longer think he can be one of the league's best quarterbacks, or that he can't win a championship. It doesn't take Tom Brady or Peyton Manning to win a title. As we know, championships can be won with quarterbacks like Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson if the rest of the team is good enough. It's a lot harder, of course.
Romo falls somewhere in between Brady/Manning and Dilfer/Johnson. He's good enough to win a game for you, and in the process can lose one occasionally. When a quarterback is asked to make every play for his team, as Romo was on Sunday, there will be some negatives.
He isn't a perfect quarterback. We've wasted a lot of time over the last few years talking about whether he is "elite" or not, but what is elite, anyway?
If it's Brady and Manning, then the Cowboys will probably never be blessed to have one that good. Those two aren't just the best quarterbacks of this era, but maybe the best of any era. It's unreasonable to constantly ask Romo to be as good as those guys.
But even they fall short. Last year in the playoffs the Jets beat those two in back-to-back weeks. Manning played the mistake-free game, no interceptions and no fumbles, but he also didn't make enough plays to win. He only threw for 225 yards and one touchdown, and the Colts only scored 16 points in a Wild Card loss. Then the next week Brady was more loose with the ball, throwing for 299 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he also had an interception and a fumble, a similar line to what Romo posted on Sunday.
So, you could've asked Romo to play tight, buttoned-up, and never make a mistake, but then the Cowboys probably wouldn't have been in a position to win anyway. And if the Jets can make Brady make mistakes, they're going to be able to force Romo into a couple of them, too.
The fumble was bad. In hindsight, if he just throws the ball away, the Cowboys kick a field goal and go up 10, and have a much better chance. But it doesn't guarantee they win the game, which still had 10 minutes left to play, so he tried to score a touchdown.
The interception was worse, but it was a tie game at the time, and he was trying to win it. He attempted to fit a ball into a tight spot and failed.
They were aggressive mistakes. Aggressive quarterbacks make mistakes, and they also win regular season games and Super Bowls a lot more often than bus drivers, guys who play tight because they are so afraid of ever making a mistake. Brady, by the way, has two more than Manning. And anyway, the last time Manning was in the Super Bowl, he threw a last minute interception that cost his team a chance to win the game.
The point is, Romo needs to be allowed to play aggressive, even in the fourth quarter when the Cowboys have a lead, occasionally.
If he's going to do that, it's wrong to expect him to be flawless.