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.
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.
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.