Expectations For Cowboys High, Higher For Romo


If you’ve been a Dallas Cowboys fan for any substantial length of time, it’s pretty easy to spot a championship contender when you see one. Improbably, last season’s squad found their mojo and made a surprising run in the NFL playoffs.

Of course, the season effectively ended with this. And while it was no guarantee of a win had Dez’s catch held up (it was a catch), we can only imagine what would’ve have happened had the Cowboys defeated the Green Bay Packers on that cold January day.

While watching the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks duke it out a few weeks later, I couldn’t help but think they were fighting for our title. The nagging feeling that the Cowboys matched up very well with both teams was a bit excruciating.

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For me, the main reason for the distressing feeling was–and is–the dwindling window of one Antonio Ramiro Romo. Love him or hate him, the guy generally manages to give his team a chance, no matter the circumstance.

This quality is what made last season a surprising and unbridled joy. The sustained level of brilliance he achieved whetted the appetite of a Lombardi-starved fan base. It’s amazing what happened when the GM finally committed to keeping his signal caller clean and upright.

So for all the hand-wringing about losing DeMarco Murray, for all the spilled ink over Dez Bryant’s apparent (and so far non-existent) off-the-field issues and lack of a long-term deal, the expectations for further success sit largely on the shoulders of the quarterback.

Tony Romo has proven plenty capable of taking on the burden. For all criticism he takes for fumbles, interceptions, and general choking, it is absurd to hold fast to the belief that he isn’t an elite QB. The numbers don’t lie. And last season, his play was spectacular.

This was after an off-season in which he endured a second consecutive back surgery. It led to him taking Wednesdays off so that he could work on his core and strengthen the affected area.

Those measures still almost didn’t help, as the Washington Redskins knocked number 9 out of a tense Monday-nighter on October 27th. The fact that he came back (unnecessarily so) during the game only attested to his toughness.

In the end, though, even two fractured bones in his back couldn’t stop the train. Every time the team got knocked down, they got up. Any bit of adversity was overcome. Only a single-elimination game derailed the hopes for further fortune and glory.

And that brings us to the cusp of another training camp.

So while the fans expect the team to continue flourishing, the onus will be squarely on our quarterback. Can Tony Romo pick up where he left off last season? Will he remain the premier field general we’ve come to expect year in and year out?

While it is no secret that Tony Romo’s championship window is rapidly closing, the team is certainly at its most well-constructed stage as it has been at any time of his career.

Guys like Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin will perpetuate this vibe as long as Tony is fit to play. The latter two are beautiful dancing bears. As a former high-school offensive lineman, watching those two kids rip and tear only makes me well up with pride.

Even the lack of a good, every-down RB like DeMarco Murray may not hold them back this coming season. The combo of Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle, and Lance Dunbar may be able to replicate last year’s punishing rushing attack. The offensive line will at least give them every opportunity to do so.

So while the fans expect the team to continue flourishing, the onus continues to be on QB1. Can Tony Romo pick up where he left off last season? Will he remain the premier field general we’ve come to expect year in and year out?

Signs point to “yes”.

Criticism from outsiders–and so-called fans–only goes so far. Fact of the matter is, we’re witnessing a wonderful late-career performance from a locally transcendent and supremely tough athlete. Any hater or fan who thinks differently can’t be reasoned with.

I hate to put more of a personal stake on Tony’s performance, but the way he played last season with a top-of-the-line offensive front and running game evokes visions of championships past.

As training camp looms, it’s difficult not to dream. No matter how you feel about Tony Romo, we’re all going to miss him when he’s gone. I root for the guy. I hope he can eventually join Dirk as King(s) of Dallas.

I’ve said this before, but when my team is approaching greatness, it’s damn-near impossible to refrain from getting greedy and wanting more. I’m sure the rest of Cowboys Nation feels the same way.

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