It’s inevitable. In fact, it always was. The warning signs were there all along, and in last night’s game against the New York Giants, the first domino in the path to Tony Romo’s return fell. Quarterback Dak Prescott, who has led Dallas to 11-straight wins, had his worst game of the season, completing 17/37 passes for 165 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Naturally, the buzz around a Tony Romo return began to pick up steam. Should the Cowboys lose this week to the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the shouts to re-insert Romo will quickly become deafening. Here’s why.
Tony Romo has been injured for a while now, this much we know. He missed 2015 with a collarbone injury and this season with a back injury. But in 2014, when Romo was playing behind the offensive line that’s currently paving the way for Ezekiel Elliot, the Cowboys went 12-4, and Romo had one of his best individual seasons. During that season, Romo completed 69.9% of his passes (the highest completion percentage of his career) for 3,705 yards, 34 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions (the least of his career). Point being is that when playing for the currently constructed Cowboys, Romo has been money. People are holding his previous decade of play against him, which is fair, but forget how great he truly was when he was a part of this team.
Let us not forget that behind this offensive line, Romo had Dallas one bad referee decision away (Google ‘Dez Bryant non-catch’) from playing in the NFC Championship.
Fun fact: Tony Romo is more successful in the month of December than any quarterback in the history of the league. That’s right: In December, when the wins count most, Romo is at this best. From 2009-2014, Tony Romo has thrown 34 touchdown passes and only eight interceptions in 16 December games. That’s just five touchdowns less than Aaron Rodgers, who has 39 TDs and eight INTs over the same span. Over those 16 games, Romo threw for 4,342 yards on 359-for-549 passing (65.4%) for a passer rating of 104.1 in December from 2009-2013. That’s good enough for the highest December QB rating in NFL history. Tony Romo balls in December, and so far, Dak has not, throwing for less than 200 yards in three straight games. Should the Cowboys lose another December game, look for them to bring out their December ace.
Tony Romo Is A Better Quarterback (Right Now)
For right now, when healthy, Tony Romo is a better NFL quarterback than Dak Prescott. Now, while Prescott is safer, and maybe a better fit for this Cowboys team, Romo is still the superior player. While Prescott’s steady hand may have been the Cowboys’ key to success during the regular season, the playoffs are an entirely different beast. Where as the regular season is a marathon, the playoffs are a sprint, and the Cowboys may need Romo and his gunslinging ways to get them over the hump in a winner-take-all game. Should the Cowboys find themselves in a matchup with the Falcons or Packers, they will not be able to play the time-of-possession game they’ve been using all season, and will have to keep pace with the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Matty Ryan. Tony Romo can do that. Dak Prescott, at this time, cannot.
Dez Bryant is a top five NFL receiver. In no particular order, you’ve got Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, Odell Beckham Jr, and Dez Bryant. And in fact, of all those names, Dez may be the best in the air, as well as the strongest wide receiver in the league.
Dez Bryant is in his sixth year in the NFL, and he has never, NEVER looked as irrelevant as he did Sunday night against the Giants, finishing with one catch for 10 yards that he actually fumbled away. That’s right, he fumbled his only reception of the night. In December, and in the playoffs, you need your best players to take over, and the Cowboys will go absolutely nowhere without production from Dez Bryant. Throw in the fact that they may face a high-powered team like the Falcons or Packers, and you have a situation where you need Dez to go off.
Now, while it’s clear Dak knows how to win games, it has yet to be seen whether he can win a shootout. And you can bet your ass that Dallas is going to find themselves involved in a shootout with that defense of theirs. Say what you will about Tony Romo, but when he’s in the game, you know Dez Bryant is gonna ball.
Where it all begins and ends: Jerry Jones. It’s no secret that Jerry Jones as an affection for Tony Romo, however, he took those feelings to new heights last week when he said, despite the fact that Dak Prescott and the Cowboys were in the midst of an 11-game-winning streak, that Tony will get “his opportunity to get us a Super Bowl.”
“I think Romo is going to get his opportunity,” Jones said. “I don’t want it to happen. But I think he may get his opportunity to get us a Super Bowl. While that’s a mixed bag when I think about it — that means you don’t have Dak out there — but it means, what a story, one for the ages, if he’d step in there and this year help us win a Super Bowl on the field with his skill. That can happen here. We’re not talking about a bus driver out there. We’re talking about a guy who can go out there and move our team.”
At the end of the day, Jerry Jones is a showman. More than winning football games, he wants to put on a show. And as preposterous as it sounds, the man is right: Tony Romo leading the Cowboys to a Super Bowl would be one hell of a story. And now that we know Jerry Jones wants it, it’s only a matter of time until it happens.