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Tony Romo: The Undeniable Mr. Everything

Brian Leatherman

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Cowboys Blog - Tony Romo: The Undeniable Mr. Everything

For me, there’s never been any question about whose the leader for this team. I can’t say that for others. That includes a lot of the media and a whole lot of fans. Even during the 6 game winning streak, Tony Romo was given very little credit for the team putting together 6 consecutive victories.

I’ve heard things like, “the run game is keeping him from making mistakes” or “He hasn’t been forced to win a game this year.” Yeah that last quote was by Heath Evans the weekend before the Washington game.

Never mind the Texans game or Seahawks game, what about the Rams game, Heath?

But this isn’t a bash of Heath Evans' piece for the obvious lack of oxygen to his brain preventing common sense statements about the game of football (Although, I could write at least 3,000 words on that).

This is about the hope I have that everyone’s eyes are open to how important Tony Romo is to this team.

Like I mentioned before, I’ve known this since he became the full-time starter back in 2006, and I’m not by myself here; a lot of people realize this.

I’m speaking to those people who continue to doubt or bash #9.

After Romo was hurt against the Redskins, Brandon Weeden came in and did an admirable job while he was in the game. Matter of fact, he scored points on both possessions before he took a seat so Romo could return to the game.

You know what happen after that. Romo wasn’t able to lead the team to victory and the chatter that Weeden should have stayed in the game because he had the “hot hand” began. And honestly, maybe that was the case. Who knows? Maybe the coaches would have relied more on the run game in that last possession in overtime. But that’s hindsight now, and hindsight is 20/20.

So the days following it looked more and more like Romo wasn’t going to be able to play against the Cardinals. But many people - the media included - felt the team could still function well enough to beat Arizona, and then if needed, Romo could sit out the next game against Jacksonville too, sending the Cowboys into their bye week with an impressive 8-1 record.

What Weeden gave many fans and media was a false sense of hope. I mean, in a way I can see why. The run game has been one of the reasons why this team has been successful, and the defense is leaps and bounds better than last season. So I get it, but I knew better than to believe it.

It took about 4 plays on the offensive side of the ball for me to see this team was going to struggle. And if it wasn’t for a defensive touchdown, the offense would have put up three points heading into the Cowboys last possession of the game.

I will say that the team not having two starting offensive lineman didn’t help things. But that wasn’t the big problem. The five o-lineman that did play did well enough for the team to be successful. What hurt them the most was the guy playing behind the center. It wasn’t just the fact that Weeden had a bad day or couldn’t make the same throws as Romo; he had no control over the offense.

The difference between Romo or Weeden playing under center was like night and day, or a playoff team to a team who was headed to top 5 pick in the next draft.

Yes, there’s going to be a difference, because one guy is the starter while the other guy is a backup. Not hard to figure out. But when that backup comes in and it changes everything, you’re going to have problems.

Weeden came in looking like a guy who just walked in off the streets and had only been working with that offense for a week. He most certainly didn’t look like a guy that got a big portion of snaps during training camp - almost all of the snaps during preseason games - or a guy that's been getting any snaps with the first team during the week up to this point in the season.

Like Troy Aikman said, “He should be the most prepared back-up in the entire league.”

But it just didn’t work out that way, and if Weeden continues to play, it will never be that way. Tony Romo is the heartbeat of this team; he’s the conductor of the train, the maestro of the orchestra.

He does things on the field that Weeden just isn’t capable of, and I’m not talking about just the physical play. I’m talking about running the offense; setting you’re o-lineman up in the correct blocking scheme, and letting your wide receivers know what they should do. There was none of that going on during the last game.

So it wasn’t just the throws or bad decision-making for me, it was the know how or lack thereof that stood out more than anything else.

Yes, this team has had much success running the ball this season, which has led to much success so far for this entire team. One could say the offensive line is the main reason behind it, and indeed that has a lot to do with it. But Tony Romo, with his knowledge of the game, his physical ability to make plays out of nothing, and his ability to carve up a defense, is the main reason this team has had success and will have success going forward.

If people want to think it’s the run game and this offensive line that’s the heartbeat of this team, that’s fine, they can do that. But they're dead wrong.

People often say not to judge one performance on future performances, and I’m usually one of those people who say that. But this team has no shot going forward with this 2014 season if they don’t have #9 under center.

For those that have doubted how important Tony Romo is, I hope the last game gave you a glimpse on how it would be going forward without him. And maybe, just maybe some of you can learn to appreciate what we have in Tony Romo.



Brian has been a football junkie from the time he was 5 years old. He lives, eats and breathes the game. Brian is a college graduate living in the south who loves his faith, his family, and his Dallas Cowboys.

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Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Next Day Rant: Cowboys Drafting LB Vander Esch Looks Pretty Smart Now

Dallas Cowboys' rookie Leighton Vander Esch has done enough to prove every single doubter wrong. When Roger Goodell called his name during the 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas, many in Cowboys Nation rejoiced at the thought of having a young linebacker for a defense surrounded with uncertainty. However, many analysts doubted the draft pick. For a lot of people (sadly, I include myself in this category), the pick should've been used on another player. For most, despite acknowledging his raw talent, Vander Esch wouldn't be able to provide the Cowboys with an instant impact player. Ah, well.

After a remarkable season, Vander Esch (a.k.a. Wolf Hunter) has earned a spot on this season's second-team All-Pro. When the Pro Bowl voting began, Vander Esch was snubbed from the ballot itself. It didn't took the NFL long to realize their mistake and add the Cowboys' linebacker to the list. Despite missing the cut at first, Vander Esch will be heading to Orlando to play in this year's Pro Bowl on January 27th.

https://twitter.com/dallascowboys/status/1085291591399546880?s=21

The former Boise State Bronco will be replacing Carolina Panthers' LB Luke Kuechly, who won't be participating because of an injury.

Vander Esch racked up 140 tackles (per Pro Football Reference), ranking third in the league in this category. He finished the season as the fifth best linebacker in Pro Football Focus' rankings.

But numbers aren't really enough to fully appreciate what Vander Esch did for the Dallas Cowboys. A team that was used to seeing its defense break when veteran Sean Lee went down injured, did not only get someone to fill in for Lee. Vander Esch actually upgraded the Cowboys' defense. It didn't matter where the ball went, he was always around when opponents were tackled. His speed and chance of direction allowed him to run sideline to sideline, covering a huge portion of the field.

Along Jaylon Smith, Dallas managed to have one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL.

The last time a defensive rookie from the Cowboys went to the Pro Bowl was in 1981, when Everson Walls made the team. Vander Esch is the 11th rookie in team history to be selected to the Pro Bowl. This year, the rookie will be accompanied by DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Ezekiel Elliott.

Tell me what you think about "Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Cowboys Expect C Travis Frederick Back for Offseason Program

Jess Haynie

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Travis Frederick

Lost in yesterday's hoopla over Scott Linehan's return was a positive report about Center Travis Frederick. In his comments to the media, Jason Garrett said that Frederick's recovery timetable should allow him to a full participant in the team's offseason program.

After never missing a start in his first five years, Travis missed all of 2018 dealing with the effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disease attacked his neurological system and required immediate and intensive treatment.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Jason Garrett says the team anticipates Travis Frederick being involved in the offseason program right from the start this spring if he continues on the same positive track in recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. #cowboyswire

While Joe Looney performed admirably in Frederick's absence, he's not an elite talent. Travis has been arguably the best center in the NFL since entering the league in 2013.

It's hard to qualify what effect not having Frederick had on the Cowboys offense in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott still led the league in rushing, but short-yardage plays weren't as automatic as we've seen in past years. A 4th-and-1 stuff was part of what led to the Cowboys' loss this past Saturday.

Dak Prescott was the second-most sacked QB in the NFL in 2018. After being sacked just 25 and 32 times in his first two seasons, the number skyrocketed to 56 sacks.

That's not all on Frederick, of course. Tyron Smith had some health issues and there were was turnover at left guard.

But having your All-Pro veteran center out there to help with the pre-snap reads, and help the rookie guard on his left, might have helped avoid some of those issues.

Indeed, Travis Frederick's return is just one of many reasons for optimism with the 2019 season. One of the best players on the team, he was sorely missed this year and can only help as Dallas looks to build on their division title and playoff appearance.



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For Cowboys to Beat the Rams, Dak Prescott must Lead the Way

John Williams

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Playoff Scenarios Aim Towards Seahawks vs Cowboys in Wild Card

In the NFL wins and losses often come down to quarterback play. That isn't to say that if a team wins, it was all because of the quarterback and inversely, if a team loses that it was all on the quarterback. Teams win or lose games. Generally speaking, however, the quarterback has the highest amount of influence on the outcome of an NFL game. This will be no different for the Dallas Cowboys this Saturday when they take on the Los Angeles Rams in the LA Coliseum. For America's Team to make their first trip to the NFC Championship Game since 1996, Dak Prescott has to have a good game.

This looks to be a good matchup for the Dallas Cowboys offense, which should allow Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to take advantage in certain areas.

A few Rams Passing Game Notes

  • The Los Angeles Rams were middle of the pack against the pass this season, allowing the 14th fewest passing yards in the league this season.
  • The Rams allowed 7.7 yards per attempt. Dak Prescott is averaging 7.6 yards per attempt since week 10 of the season.
  • The Rams allowed the eighth most passing touchdowns in the NFL this season. They and the New Orleans Saints are the only teams in the top 10 of passing touchdowns allowed in the playoffs this season.
  • The Rams were 15th in the NFL in sacks, with 41, but Aaron Donald accounted for half of that with 20.5 sacks on the season. No other player had more than five sacks.
  • They were third in the NFL in interceptions, collecting 18.
  • The Rams allowed the ninth highest yards per completion on the season at 11.8. So on average, every completion went for a first down.

Dak Prescott is playing as well as any quarterback in the playoffs at the moment. Over the last nine games, he's averaging 272 passing yards, two total touchdowns, was only intercepted four times, and was sacked on average 3.2 times per game.

On Saturday night, we saw Scott Linehan put the ball in his hands on a couple designed runs that nearly scored touchdowns. It was an excellent addition to the offense that could help fix the Cowboys red zone woes. Getting Dak Prescott running on some designed runs or quarterback draws could help slow down Aaron Donald and the pass rush.

The Cowboys needed every bit of Dak Prescott magic to overcome a stingy Seattle Seahawks defense in their Wild Card win and they'll need him to step up again this week against the Rams. Every team is going to attempt to take away the running game to make Dak beat you and as he continues to mature, he's getting more and more comfortable doing that. He's comfortable with the big stage and the big moments.

NFL Research on Twitter

Dak Prescott Since 2016, including playoffs * 15 game-winning drives (Most in NFL) * 13 primetime QB wins (Most in NFL) * 19 rush TD (Most in NFL by QB) #DallasCowboys @dak

No Quarterback in the NFL has more game winning drives, rushing touchdowns, or wins in primetime than Dak Prescott. When we talk about Dak Prescott, we talk a lot about the things that he can't do as a passer and deservedly so, he still has some growing to do in that area, but in the things that you can't objectively quantify -- mental toughness, resiliency, clutchness, will, determination -- Dak is one of the best in the NFL. He's as mentally tough as they come in the NFL and he doesn't let the spotlight or the game situation phase him. He has that stuff that's hard to put your finger on.

The Dallas Cowboys will need more of that on Saturday night in Los Angeles. The Rams can score and can score in bunches and if the Cowboys defense starts sluggish or has an off night, they'll need Dak Prescott to keep them in the game. Even if the defense has a good game, Dak still has to come through in the passing game and on the ground to give the Cowboys a chance to pull off the upset.

The Dallas Cowboys are going to try to run the ball against the Rams on Saturday. That's their identity; run the ball, control the clock, and be efficient in the passing game. Prescott, either with his legs or with his arm will have to make some plays to extend drives and keep the Rams offense on the sideline. He'll need to be sharp in the red zone to convert those opportunities into touchdowns. Settling for field goals against the Rams is how the Cowboys get beat.

This matchup with the Rams looks to set up nicely for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, yet how things look on paper doesn't mean much when the lights go on and the whistle blows. It's a big stage and it's another win-or-go-home game for the Cowboys (like every game has been over the last nine weeks). In a big game, you need big time players, and the Cowboys have one in quarterback Dak Prescott.



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