Nov 13, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) runs with the ball and tries to jump over Buffalo Bills linebacker Nick Barnett (50) and safety Jairus Byrd (31) in the third quarter at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Bills 44-7. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Why Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo Will Excel in 2012

With the exception of Jerry Jones as GM, Tony Romo is unquestionably the most polarizing figure associated with the Dallas Cowboys organization.  He is often made the scapegoat for all of the Cowboys’ shortcomings.  Many of the pundits say that he lacks what it takes to win in the Playoffs.  Many fans, despite his impressive statistics, want Jerry Jones to bring in a new QB.  Those of us with a more objective approach were shocked, baffled, and then nauseated when Cowboy fans started suggesting that the Cowboys would be better off with Tim Tebow under center.  That suggestion is so prima facie without any merit, it would be insulting to even waste time penning a response.

Jan 1, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Dave Tollefson (71) pressures Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/The Star-Ledger via US PRESSWIRE

Whether you like him, love him, or hate him, Tony Romo will be the Dallas Cowboys QB when the 2012 NFL Season begins.  The only way you will see another QB taking snaps in a Cowboy uniform is if Romo gets hurt.

Tony Romo will have a career year in 2012, and here are a few reasons why.

The aquisition of Lawrence Vickers and a healthy DeMarco Murray will provide the Dallas Cowboys with a formidable running game.  The Cowboys have not had a balanced offense on a consistent game to game basis since Jason Garrett became the Head Coach.  Many analysts and fans mistakenly believe this is because Garrett, being a former QB, prefers an offense based on a passing attack. This is not true.  Jason Garrett wants a balanced attack.

Jason Garrett is not stupid.  He knows the benefits of a balanced offense.  The problem is that they haven’t had an effective running game.  The problems with the OL , omnipresent injuries to the RB’s, and a defense that results in playing from behind a lot,  have all combined to make it almost impossible to implement a balanced offensive attack.  You can not have a balanced offense if your running plays are always getting stuffed for 2 yards or less.

Garrett will, and has, call a balanced game when it is working.  Look at the 6 games last season (St. Louis, Seattle, Buffalo, Washington, Miami, and Tampa Bay) when DeMarco Murray was healthy and the running game was effective.  They were all wins, and they all featured a heavy dose of running, and they were all very balanced between running and passing.

Garrett will call lots of runs when he can do it effectively.

If I can look at the win-loss column and the ratio of run to pass and discern a correlation between wins and a balance between the number of runs and passes, surely Garrett can.  In the six wins mentioned above, Garrett called a balanced game: St. Louis: 24 passes/31 rushes, Seattle: 31 passes/25 rushes, Buffalo: 26 passes, 31 runs, Washington: 37 passes/30 runs, Miami 34 passes/23 rushes, and Tampa Bay: 30 passes/34 runs.

Aug 21, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner (34) runs with the ball without his helmet in the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Cowboys Stadium. The Chargers beat the Cowboys 20-7. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

When you think about Garrett’s decisions last year: taking Tyron Smith with the 9th pick, drafting DeMarco Murray in the 3rd round despite having Felix Jones, Tashard Choice and Marion Barber on the roster, and then stockpiling young OL-men, it certainly seems like Garrett is making an effort to build a team that can run the ball.

The decision to aggressively seek an upgrade to Tony Fiammetta, who played very well when healthy, also suggests a renewed commitment to running the football. (Vickers has played 6 seasons; he played all 16 games in four of them.  In 2011, he only appeared in 14 games; in 2008, he appeared in 12.)

Don’t forget about Phillip Tanner.  The Dallas native showed real promise last season.  He should be even better this season. It would be nice to see Murray average 15-18 carries a game, and Tanner about 7-10.  (Don’t be surprised if they draft a scatback type player in the later rounds to give them a real ‘change of pace’ back, especially if there is one who can return kicks.)

A genuine threat to run the ball effectively on first and second down will help Tony Romo in a plethora of ways:

1. It will slow down the pass rush from the DE’s because they will have to stay in their lanes to contain the run.

2. It will hold the LB’s close to the line of scrimmage for longer in anticipation of a run, rather than being able to focus on pass coverage.

3. It may force the defense to bring an eighth man into the box to defend the run, which makes it much easier to complete deep passes over the top.

4.  It will make Romo’s play-action much more effective.

5. It will lessen the frequency with which defenses will blitz LB’s from the edges since the LB’s will need to protect the middle against the run.

6.  It will keep them out of 3rd and long, and other obvious passing situations where the defense can ‘pin their ear back’ and sell-out on the pass-rush.

7. A balanced offensive attack will allow Jason Garrett to ‘use all of the play book’; it should make him a much better play-caller.

There are several reasons why Tony Romo is poised to have the best year of his career, but a bruising FB, healthy DeMarco Murray, and commitment to pounding the rock is the most important.  Once Jason Garrett has the ability to call a balanced game, Tony Romo and his trio of talented receivers (Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten) will be nearly impossible to stop.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray Jason Garrett Lawrence Vickers The Wright Perspective Tony Romo Tyron Smith Why Tony Romo Will Excel In 2012

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  • Jonathan Barger

    A balanced attack would be legend (wait for it)… dary.  2012 will be the best year for Romo yet.  Austin will get a full off-season to not have hamstring issues, Witten will continue to be Witten, and Dez Bryant will be entering the magical third year. I thought it was you CJ that wrote an article about Dez Bryant and all the big name receivers that have had monster 3rd years, but it is late, work is almost over, and I’ve given up.  Plus, switching Free and Smith will leave Romo standing more often, along with the added beef and competition in the middle of the line. I think the only thing the Boys’ need now is a 2nd stud TE and run a pass-happy 12 personnel like the Patriots do.

    • cjwright

       @Jonathan Barger I forgot about Free and Smith switching, but you are exactly right – that is another reason that Romo should excel in 2012.  The article about WRs in their 3rd year was not me, but it sounds interesting.  Send me a link if you can find it sometime.

    • cjwright

       @Jonathan Barger I meant to include something about the TE position.  I think the running game will miss Marty B.  I don’t think the average fan appreciates or understand the significant contribution he made to the blocking game.  That being said, the prevailing theory is that the lack of ‘distractions’ he caused will more than make up for the loss of his blocking prowess.

      • B-rad

         @cjwright I think that FB Vickers may end up being the gem FA signing for the Cowboys, and if a return to a 2 back backfield is in the works the departure of Marty B may not sting us as badly as you presume. No doubt Bennett is a great blocking TE but his failure to emerge as a passing threat was extremely disappointing, especially given his physical tools, and left it impossible to justify a 2.5M/year salary such as the one he duped the Giants into. That said I would still like a blocking TE for short yardage but I believe we improve the running game, and thus the offence as a whole, by returning to the “21″ personnel as our base offence, especially if Vickers can provide anything other than blocking.

        • cjwright

           @B-rad It will be interesting to see whether Garrett experiments with having both Murray and Jones in the backfield at the same time, possibly with one of them then going in motion in to the slot.

      • Artie C

        @cjwright @Jonathan Barger There you go again about the great, under appreciated, Marty B

        • cjwright

           @Artie C  I almost referenced you in the comment, but then I took a chance that the mere mention of something positive about Marty B would somehow bring you running – it is kinda like you have your own special spidy sense.

        • jbbravo

          @cjwright @Artie C I thought about it some and I might be unfair to Marty B when I expect more out of him. I can’t away that his Attitude just annoys the crap out of me the way he walks around like he don’t care and all but what I thought about is that it’s all great that he blocks good. The idea though is why did we draft him in the 2nd round for a blocker? Now if he was drafted let’s say 4th or 5th round I’m fine with him just being a good blocker but at number two we need more. I mean think about what round did we get Witten like 3rd I believe and he is a pro bowler but like I said maybe I’m to hard on him. I mean he is not the dummy that picked him up so early but the move is about as dumb as himself lol.

        • cjwright

           @jbbravo    @Artie lol.  It will be interesting to see how he does with that other team.  It wouldn’t surprise me if he does well, but it wouldn’t surprise me is he continues to fail to live up to the expectations in the passing game.  One thing is sure: he is getting paid to be much more than a blocker this season (I think they paid him 2.5 million for the 1st year.)

        • cjwright

           @jbbravo    @Artie  lol.  It will be interesting to see how he does with that other team.  It wouldn’t surprise me if he does well, but it wouldn’t surprise me is he continues to fail to live up to the expectations in the passing game.  One thing is sure: he is getting paid to be much more than a blocker this season (I think they paid him 2.5 million for the 1st year) and he will not have a marquee TE in front of him to justify the lack of production as a receiver.

  • Artie C

    I worry that Romo’s injuries could speed up the closing of the window of opportunity we have with him.

    • cjwright

       @Artie C I suppose that is always a concern, but hopefully his risk of injury will dwindle as the pass protection improves. 

  • jbbravo

    I hope we get a good center in the late rounds like 3rd or 4th. I would not mind one thing from Tebow though and that’s his heart and leadership and give it to Romo. The guy just don’t have a good throw to be a QB. Is this something a guy can get good at or is too late to be taught now?

    • cjwright

       @jbbravo With the extra draft pick the Cowboys were awarded, the potential to draft an OL increased a ton.  And I agree with you, I think that Center is a much more pressing need than Guard.

  • Jose

    This is a great article, and I believe it’s gonna happen as long as D-Murray and Romo stay healthy. I hope the Cowboys have a great season DC4L!

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