See, my theory is that Tony Romo being injured caused more problems for the Cowboys than in just the three games he missed. Sure, suffering through the play of Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger was bad, but nobody seemed to catch on to just how limited Romo was after he came back.
Most people can tell you about the splint he wore on his hand, and how that affected his game, but overall, the splint couldn’t have been the cause for his troubles after his return. Just look at the numbers from the season and you can see that before Romo’s injury, he played a lot better than he did after. Just for the record, the before represents the 6 games he played before, including the loss to Arizona where he was injured. The After represents the 7 games he played starting with the second Washington game.
|Tony Romo||Yds.||YPG||Comp. %||TD||INT||Fumb||Turnovers||Sacked||Rating|
The only real confusing statistic there is that he had more yards after his injury, but remember he only played 6 games before, and 7 games after. His average yards per game tells the story better, but looking at his average yards per completion is the most telling.
Before his injury, he averaged 13.2 yards per completion, and never had an average below 10.7 or above 15.3. After his injury, his average per completion was only 11.7 yards, with his low and high being 8.7 and 15, respectively.
Now those numbers show that Romo was obviously different after returning from his broken pinkie finger, but it wasn’t just his injury that caused problems. Another injury that compounded the affects of his injury was that to Pro Bowl Punter Matt McBriar, who was also injured in week 6 against the Cardinals.
He was averaging 49 yards per punt, and his replacement, Sam Paulesque only averaged 41.8. Sam did punt the ball twice as many times as McBriar did, but looking to McBriar’s numbers from last year shows that he punted 10 more times than Paulesque did and still averaged 47.1 yards. In a game where field position means so much, this is a huge statistic.
During the same time frames of before and after Romo’s injury, the running game played a part as well. Never mind that Felix Jones didn’t take another snap after that Arizona game. The Cowboys ran the ball an average of 23.5 times per game before, and 20.8 times per game after Romo’s injury. As we all know, the primary job of a defense is to make a team one dimensional, and these numbers clearly show that once Romo came back, this team was forced to rely on its passing game more.
That also lends to the increased number of times that Romo was sacked after his injury than over the first 6 games of the season.
So when someone says that every team sustains injuries in a season, I have to agree, every team does; just look at New England. But unlike the Patriots, who only lost one key player for the season, the Cowboys lost several. It doesn’t take long to figure out that the game against the Cardinals affected every game we played after.
It’s also not hard to understand that Romo, as a quarterback, had less to do with this team’s failures in 2008 than people want to believe. It’s still something he has to work on, but every quarterback spends all year working on less turnovers and more completions. That’s his job.