Things haven't always gone as planned for Tony Romo. His career has seen more peaks and valleys than a Nepalese Sherpa, and his 2011 season is a perfect microcosm.
After a 2-3 start, Romo had already thrown six interceptions, more than a few of which came at the worst possible time. He struggled against the New York Jets and Detroit Lions and somehow managed to put up just 16 points against New England and the league's worst passing defense.
But then something changed. Romo stopped being...Romo. In a good way. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant traded missed time with various minor injuries, and Laurent Robinson began to earn some playing time. And Romo noticed.
Over the past three games, Robinson has snagged four touchdowns and become one of the most consistent players on Dallas' offense. And the Cowboys are winning again, moving a step closer to a division lead with the New York Giants losing to the San Francisco 49ers.
And somehow, the fervent desire to replace Romo and move on under center has returned to a quiet, cautious optimism.
It's not hard to see why. The Cowboys are making plays on offense again. DeMarco Murray is proving to be a steal after slipping beyond the first round last season. Dez Bryant is still improving. First-round rookie Tyron Smith is starting to play like a dominant veteran at offensive tackle.
And Romo has two receivers. Throughout his career, Romo has always performed better with two marquee receivers. That's not a huge secret, and it's not a trait limited to Romo, but it's certainly had a large effect on his career.
In both 2007 and 2009, two of Romo's better years, the Cowboys had two receivers go over 1,000 yards. Dallas made the playoffs in both seasons, with Romo picking up his first postseason win in '09.
Austin and Bryant each taking their time on the injured list throughout their respective careers has been a problem. With Jason Witten slowing down and not being a natural threat on the outside, Romo hasn't been able to fill the No. 2 receiver slot with Austin or Bryant sidelined.
At least not until Robinson showed up. He's the perfect safety net for the Cowboys offense, and although he's still likely to take a backseat when Austin returns, his presence will provide plenty of insurance when it's Bryant's turn again.