Monday, October 30, 2006

Ready for Romo

Since Troy Aikman’s retirement after the 2000 season, the Cowboys had been searching for the next arm to lead Dallas back to glory. The fact that they had eight different starting quarterbacks since Aikman really meant they had none. The process for finding the next franchise arm hasn’t been simple for owner Jerry Jones. Despite Jones’ optimism year after year, the Cowboys couldn’t get the results.

So when Jones’ optimism finally cracked as he voiced frustrations about Bill Parcells sitting down Drew Bledsoe in favor of Tony Romo, it seemed the Cowboys were in trouble. If the club’s owner – who routinely predicts 10-6 seasons each August – isn’t confident in the switch, fans shouldn’t have any reason to feel comfortable.

Sunday night, Romo told those fans and his owner to relax.

As time expired in Bank of America stadium Sunday night, the scoreboard reflected more than a triumphant comeback. It showed more than the Cowboys’ most impressive win this season. The scoreboard represented a swagger back in the step of the boys in blue, a swagger they hadn’t had since Aikman guided them to their last playoff win a decade ago.

Despite poor performances in the Cowboys losses, I was positive Bledsoe had to remain at quarterback if the Cowboys had playoff hopes. Bledsoe had the experience. He’s a proven winner in the NFL. Romo represented a question mark no one – outside of Parcells – had the answer to.

And when Parcells announced the move to Romo, I thought that not only meant the end of Bledsoe’s tenure as quarterback of the Cowboys but the end of any playoff hopes as well.

But while fans, experts and even the owner weren’t sure what the career backup would bring to the table, the coach was. Parcells proved to everyone why he is referred to as the “Big Tuna.”

The next time I criticize a Parcells personnel decision, I’m going to have to remember to check my fingers to see how many Super Bowl rings I have before deciding how it will affect the team.
After a shaky first quarter that left Dallas in a 14-0 hole, Romo picked up a shovel and patiently began to dig his way out. Three quarters later, he was using the shovel to burry the Carolina Panthers.

As the game progressed, Romo demonstrated to the national audience that the ‘boys are back – or at least, they’re on their way. He is a long way from taking the Cowboys to three championships like Aikman or five title games like Roger Staubach. But Tony Romo has the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of those two Cowboys legends. He can help a talented team fulfill it’s potential. He showed that in Charlotte.

One of the more overlooked qualities Romo brings to the Cowboys is his relationship with Terrell Owens. If Owens has the good chemistry with Romo that he claims, that could be a big problem for opposing secondaries. Owens hadn’t found a grove with Bledsoe, and it’s no secret Bledsoe worked better with long-time teammate Terry Glenn. But Owens and tight end Jason Witten appeared seemed satisfied with their new play-caller.

Owens, who has developed a reputation for throwing quarterbacks under the bus, now has a quarterback he can trust to throw him the ball. TO had nine catches for 107 yards – his first 100-yard game of the season. Owens hadn’t caught more than five passes in any game this season prior to Sunday night. That trend should continue with Romo under center.

Romo demonstrated why Parcells made him the new starter in Dallas on a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter. Romo took the snap and immediately stutter-stepped forward, faking a quarterback draw. Carolina’s linebackers bit just enough for Romo to zip the ball past them to Owens for a seven-point Cowboys lead.

Romo-advocates argued his mobility should be enough for him to line up under center on Sundays. Romo dispelled that myth. He is much more than mobile. He is a quarterback. And now in Dallas, he is the quarterback.

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