Taking Care Of Romo

completed. Obviously one of those would have to be a special teams coach.

To me, another would have to be a quarterbacks coach.

As of last week, the leader in the clubhouse appeared to be Chryst, and who knows why the Cowboys brought him in for an interview last Wednesday or who would have known of this current University of Wisconsin offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. But here's a guess. Chryst was an assistant coach for the World League's San Antonio Riders in 1991-92 when Garrett was a quarterback there. Red Ball just might have made a recommendation to the head guy about this long-time college, WLAF, CFL and NFL assistant who had Wisconsin averaging 29.2 points a game this past season. Evidently he knows something about offense, and quarterbacks, too.

But, according to Phillips on Tuesday, it won't be Chryst filling that now vacant quarterback coach role, whether that be because he decided to rejoin Norv in San Diego, where he coached tight ends for three seasons (1999-2001), or whether the raise Wisconsin offered him on last year's $200,000 deal enticed him to stay put.

Who does - assuming someone does - would seem vitally important. In fact, nothing to me is more important than surrounding Tony Romo with good people (i.e. good coaches). And right now, the only guy on this staff capable of taking care of a quarterback is Garrett. And frankly, no matter however much Garrett is a coaching wizard in the making, that's not enough. Romo needs more.

For his first three years in Dallas, Romo had the benefit of listening to Sean Payton and David Lee, not to mention Chris Palmer this past year upon Payton's departure. He also had Parcells, who has known something about grooming young quarterbacks during his head coaching days.

But at the moment, it's just Garrett. He needs another guy. And after all, no matter whatever defensive whiz Phillips might be, or however high Garrett's coaching arrow is pointed, their immediate success here in Dallas will be dependent on . . . .


Quarterbacks win, and don't you forget it. You might protect a deficient offensive tackle or running back or safety. But a quarterback, he's stark naked out there. His deficiencies eventually blink in neon.

Now this is not to say it's been Chryst or bust. But that position seemingly needs to be somebody with a qualified and experienced voice.

Least you all forget, Romo, last year's 10-game starter, is not a finished product. Hardly. Yeah, yeah, I know he went to the Pro Bowl. But don't diminish the Cowboys losing three of their final four regular-season games and then scoring all of 13 offensive points in the playoff loss. Don't just give Romo a free pass.

Those in the know told me Romo down the stretch started reverting to some of the bad habits that kept him under wraps his first three seasons in Dallas. They said the more he played, the lower his release point became on passes, something he had worked on religiously to bring more over the top those first three years.

Now in a rare chit-chat session with Parcells after he decided to pack his bags, he reiterated his belief in Romo having the ability to be the guy. But he said you got to be careful. He said Romo still needs a lot of coaching. He reminded of Romo not being a finished product, and even Romo admits Parcells gave him a list of things to pay particular attention to in his absence.

If Parcells didn't actually say it, then he surely meant the Cowboys must be careful not to let the 10-game starting quarterback wander too far off the reservation. Shall I say that again: 10-game starting quarterback.

There are those who insist the Cowboys' Caesar did not praise Romo enough, that the leash choke was being yanked far too much, gagging the flamboyant quarterback of his creativity. But, when you look at those late-season numbers, there was reason to keep Romo's feet planted firmly on the ground.

And frankly, there still is, and maybe even more so now. Because look at it this way: If Romo isn't the guy, who is? Scary still, huh?

And I'm guessing the Cowboys are at least obligated to spend 2007 finding out for sure. Maybe 2008, too. That's half of Phillips' deal. And say what you want about

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