What this world needs is another opinion on Tony Romo. I'm certain of it.
Please bear with me and resist the urge to eye-roll. Throwing my hat in the contributors ring around here should call for an initiation of sorts, complete with a formal declaration, as in Name, Rank, Serial Number, and Stated Position on Tony Romo. I know and accept that what I say here will be held against me forever more, and might even prompt an audit.
The name's Erod, scrub captain, BR549, and Lord help me, I love the knucklehead at QB. Can't help it, and the intervention and therapy you prescribe won't work, so stuff it.
So let's get to it without trudging the tired and beaten paths more than minimally necessary. Romo is synonymous with politics, religion, chickens, eggs, and Gordon/Earnhardt. Hadn't been an original thought on this subject since TO had money and LeBron was a Cavalier. I mean, the first time he was a Cavalier.
Simply put, never has a player this good been this summarily and unfairly dismissed in the NFL, ever. If you can name another, please share.
Before I make my case for Romo, know this about me. I detest statistical arguments. Despise them to their core. Why? Because they're too often used definitively to cloud the truth. Too many think stats win arguments, when they do exactly the opposite. We have an inherent skill to create them from thin air, and ambiguously skew them as our agenda requires. Reality is, you can't quantify players in team sports with just mathematics. It ain't golf.
Football is more art than science, so to truly know and understand a player, it takes time and thought and prolonged observation, something not everyone can or will devote to a single player. I can't say from here that I fully understand or appreciate Matt Ryan or Jay Cutler or Phillip Rivers either. I don't drench myself in the day-to-day with those teams to have more than a fan's impression from afar. However, I still take care not to lean on stats for any of them, and base my impressions from my mind's eye, with room to change my mind.
Jeff George had kickass stats. So did Ernest Givens and Herman Moore. Troy Aikman and Drew Pearson and Lynn Swann didn't. Peyton Manning has them; Russell Wilson doesn't. Numbers reflect circumstance, style, and approach. Imagine if Emmitt had been drafted by Kansas City, or Jerry Rice was catching passes from Steve Pelluer.
Hey, let's be honest, Romo has great stats. A bajillion yards passing and enough TD passes to make Roger and Troy blush. "Greatest QB rating in the 4th quarter of all time" is the coolest one to say out loud. Whatever, I don't care about Romo's numbers because his case doesn't depend on them. All I've had to do is open my eyes and my mind, watch the games, and ask myself....
Where would this team have been the past five years without him?
Pardon the shudder, that's scary to ponder. Romo has danced the Charleston on a high-wire act throughout this ongoing circus since Tuna left town, suffering through Wade, and now waiting on the rebuilding hopes of Garrett, McClay, and now Linehan. I so wish Parcells was 10 years younger and could have raised him properly in this Beatles-band spotlight of Dallas.
Way back when, Romo inherited a pretty salty team, but he was an NFL quarterback in training at the time, relying on Jedi mind tricks and a boyish grin to get him from one huddle to the next. As the newness wore off and his game sharpened, that same roster began to age and falter almost overnight. His arrow pointed opposite the team's, without enough fruitful draft picks and cap room to catch the fall.
The offensive line became tattered and torn, and the defense regressed into historic incompetence. There were still shiny, skilled objects to distract the masses, which allowed Romo to amaze us all with sleight-of-hand and Houdini acts along the way. Because of him, this 4-12 roster got more attention than it deserved.
Garrett knows this. So do coaches and quarterbacks past and present, who often seem to be the only public voices to support Romo. Even the likes of Jaworski and Simms and well-intentioned RG3 have made a distinct point to say to him and us, "You're a damn fine quarterback, don't listen to what everybody says about you."
What grits my teeth is that so many Cowboys fans don't get this. They go full goose-step and adopt the opinions of ne'er-do-wells hundreds of miles away, instead of trusting their eyes and their instinct. It's easier and less exhausting to just chime in with the thoughtless hordes.
No, I haven't forgotten the bobbled snap. (How many starting QBs hold on field goals?) I watched the failure of 13-3 end against the Giants. (If Crayton doesn't drop the ball.) I saw the 2011 finale in New York. (Romo played with a sprained throwing hand), the 2012 pick against Washington, (the defense gave up nearly 300 yards rushing before Romo's awful pass), and Orton against the Eagles (if Romo played that day, they win easily).
And yes, I've seen the late-game interceptions that transfix the zombies. Games, mind you, that Dallas had no business being competitive in without Romo. Brady and Manning throw late interceptions, too, but their defenses put out the fire, so nobody remembers. Other quarterbacks do - or don't - throw picks late, but they're down three touchdowns, so nobody cares. I share your frustration with Romo at times, understand, but balanced in context.
Just how perfect does he have to be for this team to win?
Forgotten too often are the numerous games, more than most any QB, that Romo has taken the Cowboys down the field to win a game late, too. Most of those included flaccid rushing efforts and a Cowboy defense giving up yards and points in droves. So many losses that should have been, but weren't, thanks to No. 9. So many drubbings made competitive.
Perhaps the pinnacle of my pissed-off-edness came last year against Denver. We ALL saw Romo outplay Peyton, stem to stern, on every level, before stepping on his lineman's foot and throwing a plucked duck that led to a OT field goal. Romo was brilliant beyond brilliant, but couldn't overcome his French-ified defense that day, and he finally made a mistake. Nanoseconds after the game, the simpletons and dolts spilled from every crevice and hung Romo in effigy. It explains so much about so many things, I suppose, especially beyond football.
I contend that if Romo was the QB in Seattle, he'd be going for his third straight championship this season. Same for San Fran. He's markedly better than both Wilson and Kaepernick, though his circumstances aren't. Jerry's past failings ladle over this team and haunt Romo's legacy.
If there's football justice - and there often isn't - good health will allow Romo a real shot or two with a worthy roster. It's getting better, but it might oughta hurry it up. Bad backs are onerous injuries.
When Romo is no mo', it'll finally sink in among us all. I hope it doesn't come to that, but I know this. We're going to miss him when he's gone.
Was Sunday A “Wake Up Call,” Or Were Cowboys Exposed?
Entering last Sunday's game in Indianapolis, the Dallas Cowboys were riding high. Having won five straight games, including key victories over the top seeded Saints and division rival Eagles, everything seemed to be breaking right for the Cowboys heading into the home stretch.
Their defense was playing like one of the best in football, and after firing Paul Alexander and trading for Amari Cooper their offense was clicking just as they'd hoped. They needed (and still need) just one win to officially close out the division and clinch a home playoff game in January.
Instead, the Cowboys got absolutely demolished by the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, there's no shame in losing a road game to an 8-6 team in the NFL, but the way in which they lost certainly deserves some shame. Not even the 23-0 score can encapsulate the complete butt-kicking Dallas received at the hands of the Colts, and it was the type of loss that can sometimes make you question the blueprint.
The Cowboys, however, are not looking at it that way. Multiple leaders in the locker room have spoke this week about how they "needed" to lose like that. Running back Ezekiel Elliott called the loss embarrassing, but also said it is better for Dallas in the "grand scheme of the season."
Clearly, the leaders and coaches are calling the putrid performance a wake up call, something that will galvanize them and reset their win streak heading into the postseason. But is this really the case, or was the shutout defeat more of a sign of things to come?
Obviously it's too early to say for sure, but I do think it can be a little bit of both.
No, the Cowboys are not the class of the NFC, despite beating what can be called the best team in the same conference a couple weeks ago. There probably will prove to be some drop-off from the top 3 seeds in the conference and the Cowboys, if for no other reason than Dallas will have to go on the road to play those teams in the playoffs. It's really hard to win on the road in the NFL, especially with the increased wackiness of 2018.
The Cowboys offense is far from perfect or prolific, though if clicking they now have the skill talent to drop 30+ points any given Sunday. Their defense is talented, has a high ceiling, but is still very young and inexperienced. Though they've played elite level games before, they've also had some stinkers against the Colts and Titans during the same season.
All of this can be true. The Cowboys can be a team deserving of the playoffs, a team we should not be panicking over, but still a very flawed football team. They can be a team that if "hot" could make a run through the postseason, but also will have to answer some tough questions about coaches and players during the next two offseasons.
After all, who isn't greatly flawed in today's NFL? Hell, we just saw the beloved Rams lose two straight games.
Is it Too Late For Dallas to Fire OC Scott Linehan?
Grab your pitchforks and your torches, it's time to run the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan out of town. His playcalling has been absolutely atrocious season and it's time for him to hit the road, even if there are only two regular-season games left on the schedule.
It's completely unorthodox for an NFL team to fire an offensive coordinator this late in the season, but just last week we saw the Minnesota Vikings do just that when they parted ways with John DeFilippo. It was definitely a bold move to make considering the Vikings are still in playoff contention, but it was something they believed was in the best interest of their team.
I believe if the Dallas Cowboys want to do what's best for their team right now and not later, then they should go ahead and cut ties with Scott Linehan. His predictability and un-creativeness as a play caller is holding back a talented offense, which is hurting the overall team as a result. He's been given every opportunity to turn things around, but enough is enough.
I'd personally be on board with Jason Garrett taking over the playcalling duties. He has the experience and held the position with the Cowboys from 2007 until Linehan was hired. I'd even consider giving Kellen Moore a shot as the OC. He knows the system and has worked closely with Quarterback Dak Prescott. Regardless, the Cowboys need to find some way to increase their offensive productivity.
Right now the Cowboys offense is the 26th scoring offense in the NFL and are averaging just 19.7 points per game. To make matters worse they are the 31st ranked Red Zone offense in the league. I don't know about you, but I think that is completely unacceptable with the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball.
Firing Linehan has been a long time coming. The Cowboys flirted with the idea earlier this season during the bye week and should've pulled the trigger then, but for some reason or another decided to let him stick around. They are definitely still paying for that mistake now.
The Cowboys mistake not to replace Linehan could mean yet another early exit in the playoffs, something we have unfortunately become accustomed to. Scoring just 19 points a game isn't going to get them very far, which is truly unfortunate considering the talent they've acquired this season.
Unfortunately, as much as we would love to see Scott Linehan tarred and feathered and run out of town, I just don't see the Cowboys doing that before their season is officially over. But, in no way should he be allowed to retain his position beyond this season. He clearly isn't the answer any longer.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should fire Scott Linehan?
Despite Embarrassing Showing, Health Remains Biggest Cowboys Concern
What is it about the AFC South with these Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas' five game winning streak came to a close on Sunday, as they got straight-up embarrassed by the now 8-6 Indianapolis Colts on the road. The loss was the first since the Cowboys were embarrassed by a different AFC South competitor, the Tennessee Titans, on Monday night football earlier this season.
Though the final was 23-0, and not a single phase (or really even a single player) showed much fight or promise, the biggest concern I have for the Cowboys moving forward didn't change because of the putrid performance. It didn't change because the defense was gashed play after play or the offense failed to finish a single drive. And it didn't even change because both the Redskins and Eagles secured season-saving victories on the same day Dallas was dismantled.
The biggest concern is still their health, particularly across the offensive line.
That was not a playoff caliber interior offensive line the Cowboys put out their on Sunday. Not even close.
With their backup center in Joe Looney, backup guard in Connor Williams, and the very last interior offensive linemen on their roster in Adam Redmond playing for basically the entire game, this offense never had a chance. Dak Prescott wasn't any more inaccurate or indecisive than normal, but all those who like to scream "step up in the pocket" whenever he is sacked did not seem to have an argument this week.
There often was no pocket to step into, as those interior three, specifically Looney and Redmond, failed to provide much protection or confidence for Prescott at all. Joe Looney has actually been rather solid this season, but Sunday felt like one of his worst games of the entire year.
The Cowboys absolutely need Zack Martin to get healthy if they are to make any noise whatsoever in the postseason. At the very least, the need Xavier Su'a-Filo to come back and replace Redmond, and regain the form he displayed during his debut against the Eagles back in November.
Prescott already has issues with his pocket presence and footwork when pressured, so throwing three backup-level linemen right in front of him is not a recipe for success for the Cowboys.
I'm not jumping out of the window over this loss, and I don't think any of you should be either. Dallas had won three straight incredibly emotional and important home games to extend, save, and solidify their season respectively before this loss. They had also just about clinched the NFC East a week ago with their win over Philadelphia, and they played like a team that was due a flat performance
A letdown loss on the road, against a good team I might add, is not the end of the world. The bigger issue here is their health, because if Martin can return to anchor this offensive line, the offense should look a whole lot better than they did against Indianapolis.
It's time to move on from Sunday, go beat Tampa Bay, officially clinch the division, and get ready for Wild Card Weekend.
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