Perhaps it is not Tony Romo that is the problem, but rather the Dallas Cowboys that should catch much more of the flak for their perennial disappointments. Should America’s Team fail to make the postseason for the third straight season and NFL.com’s Adam Rank be correct, we will likely get our chance to see what Romo is capable of elsewhere.
Rank stated that the 31-year-old quarterback is on a "short leash" heading into the 2012 season and could very likely lose his job as the starter for the Dallas Cowboys should another ill-fated season take its course.
With one year remaining on his contract following the 2012 season, it is fair to assume Romo may be allowed to walk while the Cowboys seek to fill the void he has been unable to fill, let alone live up to expectations.
This may not be all bad news for Romo, however.
While Romo has garnered himself the “choker” label, much of the blame does not rest only on his shoulders. The Cowboys have failed as a team, and their dismal pass coverage has cost them more than a fair share of games since Romo took over in 2006.
Though the six-year Cowboys quarterback has always boasted impressive stats which rank him among some of the NFL’s elite gunslingers—he has ranked within the top 10 in passing yards and passer rating three of his last four seasons, excluding 2010—his record late in games has left something to be desired.
According to Cold Hard Football Facts, Romo was just 10-18 through Week 1 of the 2011 season in close games in the fourth quarter or overtime.
It is evident that Romo has had a tough time handling the pressure of being the leader for the NFL’s most popular team in pivotal moments, especially since his memorable fumbled snap during the Cowboys’ playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks in 2006. It is possible a change of scenery may be the best option to enable Romo to live up to his full potential as an NFL quarterback.
Romo is easily a top-15 quarterback who still has the capability to improve as he enters the 2012 season well into his prime.
Being surrounded by the right talent and a more competent coaching staff could do wonders for him going forward—all three Cowboys head coaches’ decision-making has constantly been questioned during Romo’s tenure as the starter. His receivers, meanwhile, have been constant troublemakers off the field, and his offensive line has always been laden with question marks.
There are plenty of teams heading into the 2012 NFL draft with a gaping hole at the quarterback position. While most will look to fill that void through the draft, only two teams—the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins—are going to find an immediate, long-term player at quarterback.
Other teams, such as the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, and even the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs, could benefit from waiting another year in their quest for their franchise quarterback.
The addition of a quarterback of Romo’s caliber, capable of passing for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns while usually avoiding costly interceptions, would be a major benefit for each franchise’s offense. Coupled with lethal receivers such as Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, Buffalo’s Stevie Johnson or Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe, Romo could evolve into the complete quarterback he has been unable to become in Dallas, despite having Miles Austin and Dez Bryant for the last few seasons.
Romo is focused on taking the next step with the Cowboys this season, but there is no telling what the 2012 season may hold for the struggling team. Regardless of how well the veteran quarterback plays, this could be his last hurrah in Dallas.
If that is the case, have no fear, Romo. The future may hold greener pastures elsewhere.