fact, to quell all the backup quarterback tremors, Parcells' words were followed in the column with this passage:
*The Cowboys stubbornly remain committed to developing a young quarterback from within, and even owner Jerry Jones, when addressing this very issue, knowing he has no experience at backup quarterback, maintains the quarterback of the future might very well come from within. That means he's banking on either Romo or Henson. They indeed must know something we don't, or haven't seen. They're the experts. *
And you get the idea Parcells has a plan for developing Romo, and it's much closer to the one used to bring Billy Volek along in Tennessee or the one used to develop Jake Delhomme than the one the Cowboys used to groom Troy Aikman.
Again, this has been three starts, the Cowboys winning two, and should have won the third if they could have simply blocked for the game-winning field-goal attempt in the final seconds at Washington. Again, the Cowboys did only score 19 points in that game, and in the NFL, you always leave yourself open to chance when you don't at least put up 20.
But aside from the numbers (and they are pretty glaring, Romo compiling a 101.2 QB rating second only to one Peyton Manning, who will come calling Sunday with his 9-0 Indianapolis Colts) here is what, as well as passing for at least 270 yards in all three starts, has been most impressive about Romo's play:
- His accuracy. Romo is completing 65.8 percent of his passes, including at least 66.7 percent in all three starts. That's not the Romo we saw the first couple of years in training camp where he would spray the ball all over the field, usually far too high, as if he was launching the ball instead of throwing it.
- His impulse control. Now as Parcells says, this has been a little less than perfect. And it has, the audible at the end of the first half in Arizona coming to mind. But for the most part, Romo has followed his reads, and hasn't tried too drastically to improvise. Although I must admit, at times I do believe he has this little Leprechaun on his shoulder pad since he has gotten away with a couple of throws into 5 o'clock traffic that should, by all rights, have been intercepted - including his very first NFL completion, that woefully underthrown 33-yarder to Sam Hurd.
- His preparedness. Romo hasn't seemed confused yet, though his three starts have come against the currently ranked 17th, 30th and 29th defenses. He has been decisive in the pocket and gets the ball out quick, which means he knows what he's looking for and has the nerve to pull the trigger when he finds it.
- His elusiveness. Let's not wrongfully label him a scrambling quarterback. He's not. But he has shown the ability to slide in the pocket to avoid a sack or five in his three starts. He also has done a good job while moving outside the pocket of keeping his eyes down field, looking for open receivers. Or as he said after the Arizona game, looking first for where all the defenders are so he can better judge if he can get the ball to his guys.
- His "it." Looks like he has the charisma quotient to become a leader. The guys on the team are gravitating toward him and they seem willing to play hard for him - although, making plays and winning generally causes both of those to happen. Now if he can just get or has had that rumored date with Jessica Simpson, think of the locker room cred the guy will have.
This has all been a good start for Romo, better than anyone could have expected from a guy starting his first three games in the NFL, even if he's sat around for 3½ years before getting this opportunity. But the next few will be telling. The undefeated Colts come to town with the second-ranked pass defense, though that might be because teams find it so easy to run on their defense they don't bother throwing. Or because teams are afraid to throw, knowing incompletions shorten possessions, which mean more time for Manning and that second-ranked offense and second-ranked passing offense to have their grimy mitts on the ball.
Then it's three days to prepare for Tampa Bay on Thanksgiving and then that road trip to New York looming on Dec. 3 - not to mention three of the final four teams after that