Two weeks in the books for your Dallas Cowboys and the record now stands at 1-1. The pessimist in me says that is where a team led by the perpetually .500 Jason Garrett and Tony Romo ought to be. The optimist says it is only week two and the Cowboys are in a two-way tie for first place in the woeful NFC East.
The realist in me put yesterday’s Cowboys in the court of personal opinion and came away thinking that Tony Romo looks more conservative than ever. He seems to be taking fewer chances. Some would say that is a good thing, but I am not so sure. One reason Romo is such a lightning rod among fans is that he has the penchant for making the spectacular, jaw-dropping play one minute and the game-ending mistake the next.
Romo has always been a high-risk, high reward quarterback, ala Brett Favre. He has always had the uncanny ability to escape imminent danger, discourage voracious pass rushers and find open receivers downfield. He has been the master of the improbable. Now that he is basically the co-offensive coordinator, he appears to have reduced himself to more of a game manager. Throw the safe pass. Call the safe play.
Case in point: On the Chief’s goal line, trying to go in for six, he throws the called wide receiver screen pass to the right, rather than tossing a jump ball in Dez Bryant’s direction. Dez was in single coverage. Gunslinger Romo would have liked those odds and given Dez a chance to make another spectacular end zone grab. Conservative offensive coordinator Romo elected to try the “safe” play.
The result was no touchdown. The Cowboys settled for a field goal and ultimately lost the game by a point.
My contention is that the only thing that makes Romo special is his ability to do the extraordinary. Sure, that carries with it a high degree of risk. Sure, that means, like Favre, Romo will lose you a few games just as surely as he will win you some. Take that element out of his game and he is, in my opinion, the most grossly overpaid quarterback in NFL history. Reduce him to a game manager and he is a poor man’s Alex Smith, rather than a poor man’s Brett Favre.
I know it is only two games. I know this is a knee jerk reaction. But that is why I am here. To react to what I see. And what I see is a tentative quarterback leading an offense that is struggling to sustain drives. Sure, they scored 36 points on the Giants. Big deal. The defense awarded them six turnovers and scored 14 of those points for them.
The offensive line has improve in its pass protection, but continues to struggle in the run game. If Romo is going to be a close-to-the-vest game manager, he is going to have to lead a run-first offense. This is obviously not that kind of offense. Not yet.
Consequently, rather than leading what looks to be the NFC’s weakest division after week two, the Cowboys are right there in the mix, mulling about the .500 middle.
Right where they have been for three years.
Right where they will be if Romo is going to be Alex Smith, Jr.