(Editor's Note: Throughout the offseason, 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 2012 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features quarterback Tony Romo.)
Name: Tony Romo
Experience: 10 seasons
College: Eastern Illinois
Key stat: Romo completed more passes and threw for more yards last season than ever in his career, but he also threw 98 more passes than he had in any other season, tying a career-high with 19 interceptions.
Contract Status: Signed through 2019.
How He Played In 2012:The final game of the 2012 season wasn't Tony Romo's finest hour and afterwards he stood before the media and admitted as much. Should he have shouldered the load for that loss, probably so but let's also give him credit for putting this team in a position to even have the opportunity to win the division because it was his play down the stretch in December that was the difference. DallasCowboys.com writer Nick Eatman made a great point on the internet show, The Break, when he said what the best thing the Cowboys did as a team was throw the ball, which is completely true. They were able to throw the ball because of the play of Jason Witten and the development of Dez Bryant but let's not forget the ability of Romo to avoid the rush and improvise when things broke down in the pocket. As much as we all remember how things went opening day against the Giants.
The games I tended to focus on was the beating he took against the Buccaneers, the loss to the Ravens and the wins against the Bengals and Steelers. There is no way that I thought he would survive that Bucs game with all the trouble that the line was having with their scheme. Romo took some shots that lesser quarterbacks would have been out for weeks but he hung in there and with no running game and very little going right up front was able to make enough throws in the game to win. The Ravens game I remember because I was standing on the sidelines watching him make throw after throw trying to get the team in position to win the game. The crowd that day in the 4th quarter was as difficult as I had ever experienced in all my years in the NFL. But Romo had the Ravens defense on their heals and the two point throw to Bryant should have been a catch but it wasn't. In the end, he put the team in position to win the game but Bailey's kick was wide left. Later in the season with back to back games against AFC North opponents Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, I felt like the season was on the line. Defensively both clubs would present huge problems for the Cowboys to have to handle but Romo was once again at his best. The offensive line did a much better job protection wise against the Steelers than the Bengals and the club was able to get its fourth and fifth comeback wins of the season where I honestly felt like they had little chance. The season for Romo started with a bang against the Giants but ended in a big thud with the loss in Washington which is what most people remember. I am not here to defend Romo for that last game but just try to remind you to look at the whole body of work before you make that call.
How Does He Fit:The front office and Romo were able to work out a contract extension that will keep him in Dallas the next several seasons. I have to say that I do understand how fans feel about the situation good and bad but as I am typing these words, thoughts once again come into my head about those three years where I worked for this general manager and we didn't have a quarterback. When you work for a team and you know you have not a chance in the world to win a game because your quarterback play is awful, it's the worst feeling in the world and for three years I lived that.
But I am not going to sit here and let this front office off the hook for trying to find a quarterback to develop. Let's be real honest here, Stephen McGee was a waste of time and funds. Those are the types of mistakes that cannot happen while going forward. This front office and coaching staff needs to take advantage of the years they do have left to try and get someone else ready so what doesn't happen to us in 2000 when Troy Aikman walked out that door doesn't happen again. Romo's extension buys them time but now the clock is ticking and before you know it, there will be a time to say good bye to him as well. It's the job of the front office and coaches to get Romo as much help as possible, that should be job one.
Rowan Kavner –Many will argue Romo didn't play to the level of his new contract last season, which ended with another disappointing finish and an abrupt end to the year without a postseason to show. The other side of that is Romo was also responsible for most of the late comebacks when the team fell behind and was almost solely in charge of getting the offense down the field behind a porous offensive line and a struggling rushing attack. Last season was vintage Romo, with some questionable decision-making and other [embedded_ad]
dazzling moments. The reality is he's a top 10 quarterback who would've found a nice salary in free agency at the end of next season, wherever he ended up. But eventually, Romo will have to lead a run in the playoffs for his new contract to be considered any sort of a success. Until he does that, the questions and unfulfilled expectations will continue to loom over him.