They say Romo wasn’t built in day. Or something like that. Friends, countrymen… let me borrow your eyes for a moment. There are fifty legitimate topics to cover for a first article, but from where I am sitting, none are more pressing right now than what could be an insane lack of depth at the quarterback position. And this, an offensive topic, from a guy who is very defense-oriented when it comes to just about anything ‘football’.If you would have told me three-fourths of the way through this season that I’d be railing about this, I’d call you a knucklehead. I admit I was just as succeptible as Roy Williams is in pass-coverage. I was near-ready to put Romo’s name in the Ring. I drank the Kool-Aid, and it was good. Oh, the Kool-Aid. But then reality set in. Tony Romo started playing like a second-string quarterback. And the cameras kept panning to who? Drew Bledsoe, and his irritated, frustrated, and angry mug. But for as much criticism as I gave Parcells for his unmanly retirement via email, his decision to stick with Romo was the smart one. Bledsoe was the same quarterback he was in Buffalo, not the one he was in New England. We all stared in surreal disbelief as T-Ro (I’ll take credit for that) bobbled that snap and the season went out like the Hindenberg. With the way that the season wore down and the players and morale seemed to degenerate more as the regular-season neared completion, the oucome was pretty obvious. There are few teams in major athletics who can flip a switch like that. Even against a hobbled Seahawks, most Cowgirl fans knew the season was over. And you have to place some of that blame on the quarterback.
See, for about four years, no one knew who Tony Romo was… except some local media outlets who were pretty spot-on when Romo was the man of the hour. During those years, Cowboys fans in and around The Metroplex were routinely told how good Tony Romo was, and how he just needed a chance, and how he was underrated (and under-valued) as a back-up. Romo got his chance and did well until the last few weeks. Well enough to garner a Pro-Bowl invitation, and a playoff bid. Which brings me to the pressing question that is in everyone’s minds: did this kid catch a lucky streak, is he the real deal, or is he really just a back-up quarterback? When the Tuna announced his retirement via email (which I will reiterate) to his players, coaches, and the Cowboys’ High Command, I was sure we were going to see one of those subtle “back-up quarterback” acquisitions that are always made to light a fire under the current guy’s ass, or just straight-up compete for the job. And we did, to an extent. The motion was made to bring in 38 year-old Brad Johnson. Let me ask you this: does anyone know who the Cowboys back-up even is, besides the new old-timer? I had to look it up. The only other quarterback on the roster is Matt Baker, who will be a second-year player in 2007, out of North Carolina. When the draft rolled around, the Cowboys did what I expected, which was to grab a middle-to-late round quarterback who people were sleeping on. They took Isaiah Stanback from U-Dub, an underrated player as both a quarterback and as an athlete, but most sources see Stanback in the form of wide-receiver than a quarterback, in the NFL. Make no mistake, however, this kid has good potential and is athletic enough to create plays from wherever Phillips puts him.
A strong quarterback is almost essential in today’s NFL. With as much riding on the play of your signal-caller, does anyone else feel like this season could be a rocky one, and end up in the toilet in a matter of a few short weeks? This could easily be a classic case of putting all your eggs in one basket. If Tony Romo doesn’t get his mind right, we’re looking at a playoff race that is absent of the words “Dallas Cowboys”, unless a miracle happens. Sure, Brad Johnson had an okay season in Minnesota, but the guy is 38 years old. He played quarterback at Florida State when Bowden wasn’t the head-coach, in about 1946. He is clearly not the answer, and I don’t know many NFL fans who want the fate of their team riding on the backs of a rookie, ‘slash’ quarterback, or a kid from a Butch Davis-less North Carolina.
But, see… we made another move that flew under the radar. The High Command hired former Cowboys back-up and former Dolphins QB-coach Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator. By all accounts, Garrett is one of those guys who is better at teaching than he is at doing, and is regarded as a sharp mind for the game. He is on the ‘watch-list’ already as a future NFL head coach. Brad Johnson is not foolish enough to misunderstand his hire. As you can see, with a longtime veteran, and guy like Garrett, molding Romo from the sidelines and whispering in his ear, he himself and the Cowboys’ fans should breathe a little easier. Maybe 2007 looks a little more promising at the quarterback position than at first glance. But the guy throwing those passes and making those judgements is Tony Romo, not Garrett or Johnson. All the king’s horses and all his men, right? Romo is better than that. And, sometimes, there’s examples when you can look back at the roster and see that maybe the writing was on the wall before the summer even rolled in.