Tony Romo faces an incredible amount of pressure to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a Super Bowl this year. This is partly due to national sports media scrutiny. It is also partly due to the perception of Romo by a certain segment of fans, although that may, to a degree, simply echo opinions in the national sports media.
Some might go so far as to say that Romo is on the hot seat, that he must take the Cowboys deep into the playoffs or risk losing his starting job. Such an argument is baseless because it both disregards Romo’s 2011 season performance and Jerry Jones’ confidence in him.
Skip Bayless of ESPN is one of the loudest commentators questioning Romo’s commitment to winning. While saying that the 32-year-old is on the hot seat, Bayless said, “You’re setting the tone for your football team. Maybe you call Dez Bryant and say, ‘Meet me at the vacant lot.' That’s how you win a Super Bowl and he’s not doing it.”
Meanwhile, Bayless probably doesn’t have any reaction to Romo’s statement to ESPN Dallas-Fort Worth that the candidates for the No. 3 wide receiver role will have to “work their butts off.”
Critics don’t focus on that aspect of Romo. The competitive aspect goes unnoticed as this segment of football fans and commentators zero in on his mistakes and blown games.
The real objects in their mind are the three interceptions in the second half against the Detroit Lions in Week 4 and the fumble and interception in the fourth quarter of the Week 1 loss against the New York Jets.
What should be noted are Romo’s stats and comeback wins. The six-year starter has the second-highest quarterback rating all-time (96.9). He’s No. 1 all-time in net yards per pass (7.3). Despite the mistakes that critics like to pick out, Romo has the sixth-highest completion rate all-time (64.5 percent).
By the way, in his last two full seasons, Romo was in the top five in interception rate (third in 2009, 1.6 percent; fourth in 2011, 1.9 percent).
Besides interception rate, the 2011 season saw the Eastern Illinois product place in the top five in quarterback rating (fourth, 102.5), passing touchdowns (fifth, 31), completion percentage (third, 66.3 percent) and passing touchdown rate (fifth, 5.9 percent).
To mention his blown games without mentioning his comeback wins would be an injustice. He led four comeback wins in 2011. That includes back-to-back comeback wins with a broken rib and a punctured lung.
He left the game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2 with the aforementioned injuries and came back later to carry the Cowboys back from a 14-point deficit to win in overtime.
If fans need any further confirmation beyond Romo’s body of work, they should refer to the words of Jerry Jones. Jones said that he’s committed to having Romo lead his silver-and-navy blue squad.
The Cowboys owner and general manager told ESPNDallas-Fort Worth, “I want Tony Romo on this team. In my mind, he’s the best he’s ever been. I think he’s very capable of competing for a Super Bowl. I don’t have any thought of Tony not being here.”
Jones knows what he wants. He has a clear vision for the on-field product in Dallas. While his certitude in some areas may be questioned, his commitment to Romo is undeniable. He hasn’t made any moves to bring in anyone to compete with Romo. No legitimate effort to trade Romo has been reported.
The former undrafted free agent has risen up to become a premier quarterback. Somehow, some fans and commentators question his status and leadership, asserting that he should be out if he doesn’t put the team on his shoulders and carry it to a title. To set such expectations without placing any faith in Romo is more than unfair.
This assertion disregards his accomplishments and capability to do just what critics say he can’t do.