It's been more than a week since Tony Romo announced his retirement, and the tributes in his honor have been plenty. There have been tributes from fans, from his teammates, from the Dallas Cowboys organization, and even the Dallas Mavericks have paid tribute to Tony Romo. While it may be a bit late to the party, this is my little tribute to one of my favorite Cowboys ever, and the QB I watched growing up.
Here's to you Tony, thank you for the memories!
There were more moments I wanted to include in the list, but left out, so make sure to comment with your favorite Tony Romo moments. Here are mine, I hope you enjoy them, #CowboysNation.
#10 The J.J. Watt Spin
I mention this spin specifically because it was against one of the greatest defensive players of all-time.
On second down and four to go, Tony Romo snapped the ball. J.J. Watt did something few can by bullying Tyron Smith with a speed rush to get to number 9. Romo, with Watt just a few steps way, executed a perfect spin.
Watt ended up on the ground while Romo threw a 43-yard TD pass to Terrance Williams. This is an honorable mention to Tony Romo's signature spin move. While there were many, this might have been the best one.
#9 Fighting for 4 Yards
"Wow, what a four yard run!"
That's something you don't hear every Sunday. But if you watched the Dallas Cowboys play the then St. Louis Rams in 2007, you probably said something similar.
After a high snap on third and three, Romo chased the ball 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage (he kicked the ball, too).
When he finally picked it up he managed to get back to the line of scrimmage and four more yards, including the first down.
We all knew
Superman Tony Romo was in the house.
#8 Breaking the Cowboys' All-Time Passing Yards Record
When the Cowboys played the Indianapolis Colts in 2014, they had fun and secured the NFC East title by beating the Colts 42-7.
But Tony Romo was on fire that day. He ended the day with four touchdowns and a new Cowboys franchise record. He became the QB with the most passing yards in the history of the franchise.
While maybe it wasn't one of the most exciting games in Romo's career, I loved this moment. He broke the record by throwing a 25-yard TD pass to Jason Witten... my two favorite Cowboys making history.
#7 His Last Comeback
Week 1, 2015: Sunday Night versus the New York Giants.
The Cowboys started off with a couple of turnovers; Dez Bryant went down injured and Dallas was facing adversity. With the score at 26-20, 1:29 on the clock with no timeouts, Tony Romo settled in and drove Dallas down the field.
With under 15 seconds to go, on third and two from the 11 yard line, the Cowboys snapped the ball. After dropping the ball and picking it up, he threw the TD pass to Jason Witten and won the game.
We never expected that game would become Tony Romo's last comeback win in his career.
#6 One Last Drive
I can't remember being as excited about a meaningless game as I was for last season's week 17 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys had already clinched the number one seed in the NFC and had nothing left to play for. They were visiting Philly and there was nothing to be excited about that week... except that Tony Romo was going to play some football.
During the second quarter, he led a TD drive. Cowboys Nation went completely crazy rooting for Tony, our QB, one last time. Seeing Tony walk back to the sidelines, smiling after his last play as a Dallas Cowboy was, for sure, something special.
#5 Football is a Meritocracy: Tony Romo's Press Conference
Wild Card alert! For my number five spot, I'm picking a moment which doesn't involve a football field.
Tony Romo spoke in a press conference last November. After asking for a chance to compete with Dak for the starting role and being denied, he decided not to be a distraction and spoke about what many already knew about Dak Prescott: "He's earned the right to be our quarterback."
Romo was a class act. He stood in front of the media at The Star in Frisco and put the final point on the debate everyone was talking about. Romo did what was best for this football team. One of a million reasons to thank Tony.
#4 Beating the Lions in the Playoffs
I remember this day like it was yesterday. I watched the first half of this game in a restaurant. I was out with my family for a New Year's trip to Las Vegas. Behind me, an annoying Lions fan was making fun of the Cowboys.
You can imagine my frustration.
When halftime came, I ran to the hotel room. Little did I know, I was about to witness an epic comeback, engineered by none other than Tony Romo.
With all the time in the world to throw, he stood patiently in the pocket and threw a perfect pass to T-Will, and walked away with a win in the playoffs.
#3 Losing to the Denver Broncos
Yeah, I included a loss in this list, but this game describes Romo's career perfectly. Facing the 2013 record-breaking Denver Broncos, led by Peyton Manning, Tony stood up.
He threw for 506 yards and five touchdowns. Tony played at the level of All-Time great Peyton Manning.
Unfortunately, the defense did not step up. Denver didn't punt once that day.
Why does it describe his career perfectly? Because everyone remembers the interception Romo threw at the end of the game. Not the five touchdowns.
People don't remember Tyron Smith stepping on Tony's foot right before that INT. And nobody remembers 9's incredible performance in this game. But we do.
#2 Through a Punctured Lung
Yes, the Punctured Lung Game.
In 2011, when the Cowboys visited the San Francisco 49ers, Romo punctured a lung and a fractured rib in the third play of the game. At one point after halftime, Tony looked to be done for the day, but he wasn't.
He came back to the field and led the Cowboys to an OT win, throwing for 345 yards and two touchdowns.
Tony Romo was a hero once again.
#1 Beating the Redskins With an Injured Back
Week 16, 2013: The Cowboys visit the Redskins.
Dallas had to win their next two games if they wanted to play in January, and Romo was playing with an injured back. With 3:39 left on the clock, the Cowboys were trailing by six.
Tony engineered a comeback drive and it was something that I'll never forget. After every single play, Tony Romo looked to be in pain. On one play in particular, he ran out of the pocket and you just knew every single step he took hurt him.
He didn't care though, that play resulted in a 51-yard pass to Terrence Williams.
I thought, "No way he can do that again..." but on the final play, he scrambled in the pocket again before tossing the ball to DeMarco Murray. Murray caught it, and scored the game winning touchdown.
That's my favorite memory of Tony Romo. What he pulled off, can be described in one word: heroic.
What are your favorite moments?
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
Can Rookie OL Connor McGovern Compete For A Starting Spot?
Raising eyebrows in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cowboys added Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern to their already deep OL depth chart.
McGovern, who played guard for the Nittany Lions, was reportedly by-far the best player remaining on the Cowboys draft board when they came on the clock in round three. Still, with seemingly more pressing needs yet to be addressed, Dallas' selection of McGovern was certainly a surprise.
When you watch the tape, though, you immediately see what the Cowboys loved about Connor McGovern.
A "plug-and-play" type guard, Connor McGovern is the type of rookie you'd expect to contribute in year one. On many teams he may be a candidate to start at guard or center from the beginning of his rookie season, but here in Dallas, his role for the 2019 season is somewhat in question.
Clearly, being a day two pick, there's no doubt that McGovern will make the Cowboys roster. But can he compete for a starting job?
During OTA's McGovern took reps at both guard and center, pointing towards the possibility of him being the first interior offensive lineman off the bench if one of the starters were to go down with an injury. Fellow interior linemen Joe Looney and Xavier Su'a-Filo each contributed in big ways during the 2018 season, however, and will be tough to beat out during camp.
While possible, I would still say it's unlikely. The Cowboys selection of McGovern seems to be more about 2020 and beyond than it is about the 2019 season. With right tackle La'el Collins coming up on a contract year, Dallas might elect to let him walk in free agency, move Williams back to his college position of tackle, and slide McGovern into the left guard slot.
This seems fool-proof in theory, but this many moving parts across the offensive line could spell trouble early on in 2020. Regardless, Connor McGovern's arrival gives Dallas the flexibility to consider all options on their offensive line.
In reality, McGovern strengthened a strength for Dallas, and may be needed to prove himself as early as this Fall if injury issues arise.
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