Tony Romo is 31 years old. Since becoming the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback in 2006, Romo has steadily improved at the position. He's steadily risen among quarterbacks and ranks 11th in Lead Writer Matt Miller's new in-depth QB breakdown for the B/R NFL 1,000.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys as a team have been stagnant. Jerry Jones hasn't built a consistent winner during Romo's tenure.
Every year, Romo is among the top in yards per pass. He's been in the top 10 in passing yards per game in each of the last four full seasons. He's cut down interceptions and become more accurate.
Four of the eight Cowboys wins last season were comeback wins led by Romo.
By the way, two of those came while Romo was playing with a broken rib and punctured lung—further showing how he's upped his competitive spirit.
Also, Romo was the fourth-highest rated quarterback in the NFL in 2011. One would think he's done as much as he can to bring the Cowboys to being a solid, playoff caliber team.
But some question whether the Cowboys can win a championship with Romo. Ahmad Bradshaw became the last one to say they can't; he didn't think the fans or people within the organization believe in him (via the Dallas News).
Despite what the critics say about Romo—tearing apart his demeanor, leadership or other qualities—he's not the reason why the Cowboys struggle.
Jones should take more blame for their failure to win a Super Bowl under Romo.The Cowboys owner hasn't done enough to build around his star quarterback. The defense and offensive line are key points to Jones' failure to give Romo support.
The Offensive Line Doesn't Protect Romo
Jones hasn't put a good enough offensive line in front of Romo. Romo has been among the 10 most sacked quarterbacks in his last two seasons. In 2011, he was the sixth most sacked quarterback.
He has suffered three significant injuries in the last four years.
Jones can't have his star quarterback getting hit as much as Romo does. He needs to fortify protection in front of Romo. Signing a good interior lineman like Carl Nicks is a must, as well as drafting one. Romo had a reliable center in Andre Gurode for his entire time starting before 2011.
Since Phil Costa might not be able to carry the load at the position, Jones would be keen to look for another one.
Winning A Super Bowl Is Tough Without Defensive Support
Jones hasn't given Romo a defense that allowed Romo to lead comebacks whenever needed and doesn't give up games. The Cowboys defense has been up and down during Romo's tenure. Only twice have the Cowboys had a top-15 scoring defense during Romo's tenure. In 2011, the Cowboys fell in the middle of the pack in scoring defense and yards allowed.
Their red zone defense and passing defense were ineffective.
A few games saw the Cowboys defense bow down. Part of the reason the New York Giants came back against the Cowboys in Week 14 was because the Cowboys couldn't make a stop on defense. The Arizona Cardinals pulled off a late touchdown drive in the fourth quarter and a single big play to beat the Cowboys.
In October, the Cowboys defense couldn't preserve the lead against the New England Patriots after Romo had brought the Cowboys back from a 10-point deficit.
In the finale, Romo attempted a last stand against the Giants with a second half comeback. Nevertheless, the defense folded once he brought the Cowboys within seven.
Romo shouldn't have to carry the Cowboys to victory every time. The defense should be able to hold the fort down when the time comes.
Eli Manning was able to count on the Giants defense to keep other teams out when he rallied the team. They forced the San Francisco 49ers to three-and-outs in their last three full possessions in the NFC Championship Game. The Miami Dolphins had a turnover and two three-and-outs in their three fourth-quarter possessions as Manning brought the Giants to victory.
Certainly, Jones will have an eye on defensive players in the draft. A solid cornerback like Dre Kirkpatrick or Janoris Jenkins is a must, as well as a pass-rusher to help DeMarcus Ware.
Conclusion: Jones Needs to Help Romo Before It's Too Late
As surprising as it is, Romo is already headed towards the latter part of his career. He'll be 32 at the beginning of next season. Eventually, he won't have the stuff left to carry the team on his own. At that point, Jones will have to make sure Romo has a good offensive line to keep him healthy and a solid running game to supplant him when he's having an off game.
The Cowboys have let Romo get injured and have had only one playoff appearance in the last four seasons.
Romo's team has quit on him, not the other way around.
As Dallas Morning News writer Rich Gosselin said on Fox Sports Southwest's SportsDay On Air, Jones and the Cowboys have "wasted the prime of his career."
Romo is a very good quarterback. He's accurate, competitive and endearing. This last season saw Romo overcome blown games and injuries to carry the Cowboys to compete for the NFC East title.
The only thing missing from Romo's resume is playoff success.
Critics would say that it's on Romo. He can't win in December and he can't win in the playoffs. He doesn't have the demeanor to be a great quarterback.
However, critics fail look beyond the national talking point that they reiterate when talking about Romo.
This tired national talking point misses the real picture with the Cowboys. Jones hasn't given Romo an effective offensive line or a stout defense. Also, Jones has stumbled through drafts of recent years with reaches and inflated talent. One can't forget how Jones projects his ego on the Cowboys organization.
People who persistently harp on Romo for his purported inadequacies should shift their eyes and wonder what Jones has done for his star quarterback.