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?
QB Dak Prescott Continues To Come Through In Clutch Situations
Dak Prescott is possibly the most criticized quarterback in all of football.
Of course, this comes with the territory of being the Cowboys starting quarterback, but each throw Prescott attempts is placed under an intense microscope, even by NFL standards. We analyze every snap of every game, looking to find where Dak was right or wrong with this reads.
There's no question, though, that Prescott has been inconsistent throughout his young career. Week to week, drive to drive, and even play to play, we seemingly have no gauge on just how Dak Prescott will perform.
One scenario where we can say with confidence he will come through, however, is when it matters most. Last Sunday, in yet another must-win game for the Dallas Cowboys, Prescott orchestrated a game winning drive to lead his team over the favored Atlanta Falcons.
The Cowboys offense was pedestrian for much of the afternoon, but when Prescott got the ball in a tied game, I felt confident he would give Brett Maher a chance to win the game. Even on the road, and even after the offense had struggled a bit through the air all day.
Prescott got the ball late in the fourth quarter, looking to answer former NFL MVP Matt Ryan's game tying touchdown strike to Julio Jones. Dak went for it all on the first play, looking for Michael Gallup deep down the sideline, but the ball fell incomplete. After that throw, Prescott went 4/5 for 45 yards, including a huge completion to Cole Beasley, putting Dallas in game winning field goal range.
This confidence in Dak Prescott is justified, as is shown by his numbers in late game situations. Prescott now has 12 game winning drives, tying him for the league lead over the last three seasons. For comparison sake, Eagles starter Carson Wentz has just 3 game winning drives over that same stretch.
Overall the box score shows a rather quiet day for Prescott, but it was exactly the kind of Sunday they need from him. He completed over 60% of his passes, ran for a touchdown, and avoided the key turnover which could have sung this close game.
He played efficient football, and gave the Cowboys a chance to win it late. Then, he did what he does best, making plays in clutch situations and coming through in the 2 minute drill.
For all of Dak Prescott's flaws, those end-of-half and end-of-game situations have been a clear strength for the young quarterback, and continued to be this week.
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
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