Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo Is Playing without Confidence

Chad HensleyCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2009

DENVER - OCTOBER 04:  Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys is hit by Robert Ayers #56 of the Denver Broncos during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on October 4, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Cowboys 17-10.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

For all the pundits screaming about how bad Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was this weekend, I have news for you.

Losing to the Denver Broncos (17-10) on Sunday wasn't on Romo. 

If you have watched Romo since his first start, you can see a noticeable difference in his style of play from the past to what it has been the last three weeks. 

The difference is confidence.

And no, it isn't the weak mind, Brad Lidge-esq lack of confidence.

It is the confidence he has in his teammates and coaches. 

It wouldn't be hard to argue that the only receiver that Romo trusts on the entire team is his tight end, Jason Witten. 

Why?  Because Romo knows he is always going to run a precise route, and will always be "there."

"There" is the place in which the receiver needs to be based on the thousands of times they have run the exact same play in practice.

Troy Aikman once said that he sometimes just threw the ball to his tight end Jay Novacek without even seeing him, because he knew Novacek would be there. 

That is the kind of confidence that Romo has in Witten and no one else.

Besides not trusting where his starting receivers—Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton, and Miles Austin—are going to be, he has no confidence in them getting separation or catching the balls when Romo actually makes a good pass.

Romo has always been accurate; there is no way he lost that ability. It is all about confidence.

But Romo has been inaccurate the past three weeks, and a lot of that has to do with that extra second he loses with the lack of confidence in his receivers. 

You can see it in the throws made to Witten as compared to the others. 

The passes to Witten are crisp and with authority.  The throws to everyone else seem to be too fine. 

He is probably thinking, "Will he be there if throw it? Or should I just give it another second for a little more separation? Maybe I should just eat it and not cost the team."

Not to mention, that extra second he may want to wait isn't always there.

Romo was sacked five times by the Broncos, and he was constantly under pressure.

Specifically, left tackle Flozell Adams was consistently beat this weekend by Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil. 

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett smartly used Witten to help Adams with Dumervil, but that just took Romo's favorite weapon out of the mix.

What Garrett really failed to do (besides abandoning the run in the second half), is set up routes that are short in case of a blitz.

It seemed Romo was always having to wait for the receivers to finish their routes and by then it was too late. I believe this is because they were all mid to deep routes, and without protection those are impossible to finish.

Garrett's pass protection schemes have always been suspect, and Romo even spoke about it after the 2008 season.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick always has Wes Welker running across the middle, and Brady uses him as his outlet a lot. 

During the '90s Dynasty, Aikman always seemed to find Emmitt Smith right over line of scrimmage.

Garrett should be able to devise something similar to help Romo out a bit.

Now, obviously, some of Romo's lack of confidence is mental, having to always think "Don't turn it over" after the debacle against the New York Giants

But he can get more confidence if players make plays. 

Did you notice who Romo went to for the final two plays into the end zone, even though perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey was covering him?

Sam Hurd, who isn't a starter.

Hurd was the player who got open on that fourth down with about a minute to go in the fourth quarter, caught the ball and raced down to the Broncos 21-yard line.

I believe Romo found confidence in Hurd after that play, and he trusted Hurd enough to go to him twice with the game on the line. 

It may not have worked out, but it showed Romo could develop confidence in someone other than Witten.


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