The Real Romo?


play-caller since Jerry Jones bought the team. Ernie Zampese served four years tutoring Troy Aikman from 1994-97, running much the same offense Norv Turner had in place from 1991-93. The Cowboys switched to Chan Gailey's system in '98 and '99, before Aikman played the last football of his career under coordinator Jack Reilly in 2000.

From there, the Cowboys pinned their hopes on Quincy Carter, who had the offensive coordinator shuffle as one of several built-in excuses during his Cowboys career. He went from Reilly's offense, in the Coryell-Zampese-Turner mold in 2001, to Bruce Coslet's version of the west coast system in 2002, to Sean Payton's passing tree in 2003, never really getting the hang of any of the three playbooks.

Though I've heard Romo say before it's not all that tough to learn a new coach's system, he is undeniably blessed to still have Garrett monitoring his progress. But how can progress be measured with Romo turning 30 on April 21?

Improvement from here on out, or evidence he's turned a corner, would be making sure the ball security from 2009 is not one day seen as the statistical outlier of his career. Until he repeats last year's performance, though, that's what it is. His interception percentage was 1.6 last season, almost half his previous low of 3.1 percent in 2008. That number has been trending downward his entire career, from 3.9 percent in those 10 starts in 2006, to 3.7 percent in '07, to 3.1 percent in '08.

Cutting his likelihood for minus plays in half was a major step in Romo's development. The key to meeting expectations in 2010 will be not taking that same step backward.

"I think he's getting a better understanding every day of what we're trying to do," Garrett said. "He's getting a better understanding of how to function within game situations and he's playing better and better.

"He's made a lot of progress and there's still a long way to go."

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