On Sunday, the 2013 NFL regular season got a treat from the Denver Broncos and the Dallas Cowboys for Week 5. Both teams scored a combined 99 points, the fourth highest in NFL history. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo left everything on the field, throwing a career best and franchise record 506 yards with five touchdowns. But at the end of the day, Romo’s only interception of the day immediately overshadowed that amazing milestone. As expected, I type in espn.com the next day, and the headline description reads: “The Cowboys were done in by another Tony Romo mistake.” But the question of the hour is, was it really Romo’s fault?
I am not about to say Romo never makes mistakes, because let’s face it, he already has a plethora of them to choose from. His mishaps can date back all the way to his fumbled field goal snap in the 2007 NFC wild card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, which ultimately established his identity as a choke artist and put the monkey on his back. But last night’s instance is an exception. I mean, Peyton Manning is always a force to be reckoned with, and last night was a testament of that. The Cowboys put up 48 points, and it still wasn’t enough against this Bronco offense.
To answer my question, it isn’t always Romo’s fault. His struggles are just the tip of the iceberg. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones can have all the money in the world to build a fancy new stadium, pay Romo that ridiculous contract extension in the offseason, and draft some of the most athletically gifted players. But when you look at the big picture, this organization has not lived up to its expectations since its last Super Bowl in 1996. It seems like every year Jones sets the bar too high for his team, and he needs to wake up. The Cowboys haven’t won a playoff game since 2009. Part of the fault falls on the coaching staff. I am a firm believer in the running game, which is something the Cowboys refuse to bring back, despite having a talented back in DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys haven’t had a 1,000 yard rusher since 2006, and head coach Jason Garrett has been relying too heavily on the passing game. When there is no balance in the offense, your team becomes very predictable, which could play a part in why Romo keeps taking the rap for the Cowboys’ losses. Also, poor clock management has been a flaw in Garrett’s coaching abilities, which was evident in 2012 and against the Broncos on Sunday. Defensively, in 2012, the Cowboys were the third most penalized team in the NFL, and this year, their pass defense currently ranks 28th in the NFL. So maybe it is okay to let Romo off the hook just a little bit.
Statistically, Romo has actually had a stellar career under center. To date, he is No. 2 on the all-time career passing charts for the Cowboys’ franchise, and in the month of December last season, Romo’s QB rating was 101.2. But regardless, when Romo makes one mistake, all hell breaks loose. I guess that is the burden you bare as the quarterback for America’s team.