Scout's Eye takes a look at the Quarterbacks:
As four teams ready for the opportunity to represent their city in the upcoming Super Bowl, the focus of these championship games centers around the quarterback position.
We have heard and read plenty in the matchups of Peyton Manning against Tom Brady and Russell Wilson battling Colin Kaepernick and how the fortunes of these teams are on their arms. Football really is the ultimate team game but the real reason that these teams have a shot at the Super Bowl is because the play of these quarterbacks.
There is a reason why, as we get ready for these games on Sunday, we are also focusing on quarterbacks that are getting ready for the NFL draft in May. Teams and fans alike are hoping that guys like Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr and Johnny Manziel could be that next Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
Throughout my career in the NFL, I have lived with outstanding quarterback play, but I have also had seasons where it was helpless because we had none. There was no magical way to know that Russell Wilson was going to be better than Matt Flynn in Seattle. In St. Louis, Trent Green was going to lead the Rams back into the playoffs but suffered an injury in the preseason and the next thing you knew, Kurt Warner was starting a Hall of Fame career.
For the third consecutive season, the Dallas Cowboys finished outside of the playoffs and whether it is right or wrong, the quarterback is the one that is going to take the hit for that. There is not a more scrutinized position in professional sports than what Tony Romo goes through on a yearly basis. When these Cowboys quarterbacks line up behind center, they understand that this is part of the game.
If you go through the history of the Dallas Cowboys franchise, you will see that when these quarterbacks are put in that spotlight, they are expected to perform at the highest level. Some of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play this game have played in this city.
In looking back at the 2013 season, there were times where you did see the very best from Tony Romo, but on the other side, there were also times where that wasn't the case.
On the positive side, his run through the division put this team on the door step of a division title, but a back injury in a critical game against the Redskins took him out the opportunity to finish the job.
Take nothing away from Kyle Orton, but if Romo plays that final game against the Eagles, we are talking about a game the following week against the Saints -- there is no doubt in my mind.
As talented as we all know Dez Bryant is, you have to give Romo credit for his development into a Pro Bowl receiver. When there were those that were critical of Bryant and his route running and knowing his assignments, it was Romo that stuck with him.
Romo challenged Bryant on the field, telling him that he was the best damn player on the field and to act like it. Romo wasn't afraid to get on Bryant and when he needed an ear full, Romo gave it to him. Romo wasn't stupid, he could have gone other places with the ball, but he knew how important Bryant was to the offense and continued to try to keep pushing him to do better.
Romo also helped this offensive line. In 2012 when they had no running game and protection was marginal at best with their consistency, it was Romo that found ways to keep plays alive to work the ball down the field.
This season, the line was much improved and basically with two rookie starters in the middle, he was able to identify protections and get these five playing well together. As a group, offensive line was maybe the one spot that had the most questions coming into the season. [embedded_ad]
It became a strength and a large part of this was due to Romo's direction.
For the positives that I have mentioned, there were also failures along the way. There were gut wrenching losses to Kansas City, Denver, Detroit and Green Bay that could have gone in a different direction with just a throw here or a decision there, and in my view, this falls on the quarterback.
You might say it's wrong to ask him to be perfect the entire season, but that's what this team had to have and it just didn't get done. I do not believe it was unfair to ask Tony Romo to be the difference-maker for this team when so many bad things were happening with this defense.
There was a reason Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett put so much responsibility on his plate before the season started -- because they believed he could handle it.
As we look toward the upcoming season for the position, Tony Romo will once again be the starting quarterback for this team and Kyle Orton should be the backup. What will be interesting is if the front office and coaching staff make the decision to draft a quarterback to develop while they have Romo and Orton in place -- or do they wait another year or two and just transition from Romo to a rookie?
If there is a quarterback that is staring them in the face and he has better grades than another player that might be a reach, they need to get that quarterback because history will tell you that is the right move.