Tony Romo: 2012 Should Be His Last Season with the Dallas Cowboys

Todd McElweeCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2012

Romo against the Giants on Jan. 1.
Romo against the Giants on Jan. 1.Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Barring a trip to the Super Bowl, this should be Tony Romo’s last season with the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cowboys are going nowhere fast with Romo under center, and they would be wise to look in another direction following the ensuing campaign.

Romo just isn’t the guy to guide Dallas back to its first Super Bowl—or even their first NFC Championship Game—since 1996.

Capable of taking a team to the edge of greatness, the former undrafted free agent is just good enough to lose when it matters the most.

Romo’s career numbers are sound, if not impressive.

He’s completed 64.2 percent (1,672 of 2,592) of his attempts for 20,834 yards, 149 touchdowns and 72 interceptions.

However, he’s a meager 9-14 in December and January and, like his overvalued franchise, has seen his star has fade in critical circumstances.

Beginning with his infamous fumbled snap against the Seattle Seahawks in 2006, Romo has botched one playoff game, or knockout contest, after another while leading the Cowboys nowhere.

A fourth-quarter interception in the end zone by the New York Giants’ R.W. McQuarters during the following year’s Division Round ended No. 1 seed Dallas' season prematurely.

Three-turnover showings against the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings in consecutive seasons only contributed to Romo’s playoff woes.

After spending most of 2010 on injured reserve, Romo returned last fall, posting his best statistical campaign yet: 66.3 percent passing, 4,184 yards, 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Romo-led fantasy teams surely finished in the money, but the Cowboys finished 8-8 and missed out on the playoffs for the second straight year.

In Week 14, Romo and the Cowboys had the chance to finish off the Giants at home.

Losers of four straight, New York was in a tailspi,n and needed a victory to have any realistic shot at the playoffs.

Up 34-29 with 2:25 remaining, Romo overthrow a wide-open Miles Austin, who had nothing but field turf in front of him, on third down.

Eli Manning would drive for the game-winning touchdown on the ensuing possession. Dallas did miss a potential tying field goal in losing 37-34.

Romo could have taken the sword to New York, but instead ceded to the G-Men, seemingly extending their season.

Three weeks later, with the NFC East title and a playoff berth on the line, Romo laid another egg.

Outplayed by Manning (24-of-33, 346 yards, three touchdowns), Romo completed 29 of 37 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns.

Unfortunately, he also threw an interception and lost a fumble. Dallas was a dismal 4-of-12 on third downs and lost 31-14.

Romo’s propensity for shrinking has cost Dallas over the past five years.

In 2013, his salary cap figure of $16.8 million will cost Jerry Jones even more. He’ll be the most expensive player on the roster.

But is he worth it?

Dallas will need to reload through free agency and the draft to keep pace with the Giants and Eagles. (The Washington Redskins are of no concern.)

Years from now, will Dallas fans look back at how Romo’s contract hamstrung the organization, now stuck in the division basement?

One has to wonder how much confidence the Cowboys have in their quarterback during the twilight moments of a critical game.

Do his coaches shrink back into their shell, opting for a more conservative call in order to protect Romo and themselves?

Do his teammates play tight, knowing there’s no room for error because of their quarterback’s shortcomings?

How could you blame them?

Whatever the case, it isn’t working.

Romo and head coach Jason Garrett are tied at the hip.

Heads will roll, including Garrett’s, should Dallas miss the playoffs for a third consecutive season. Maybe the incoming head coach will want Romo—or maybe he won’t.

Romo needs to shed his unflattering reputation for choking. Maybe he’ll do it in Dallas, but it’s unlikely he will.