Thursday, December 10, 2009

Romo returns as holder

It's official. Tony Romo will be the holder for the Cowboys' field goal unit on Sunday when Dallas hosts San Diego.

Punter Mat McBriar had been the holder for Dallas this year, taking over after Brad Johnson served as the holder for Nick Folk during his first two seasons. But with McBriar falling on his sword -- hands? -- for three of Folk's eight misses this season, Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamiliis now has a new operation for three pointers. And most importantly, Cowboys fans should not be worried.

The most blatant concern is the mental ability of Romo to forget his last meaningful hold in Seattle, a bobble that cost Dallas it's first playoff win since 1996. He did hold that season for the NFC in the Pro Bowl. And frankly, it wouldn't have been a big problem for me to see him holding again in 2007.

I don't think Cowboys fans should be concerned having Romo as the holder. Nick Folk has struggled this season, and if David Buehler isn't going to be the kicker, and Folk feels that McBriar wasn't holding properly, then change it up and make the kicker comfortable. Romo has holding experience, as he was the primary holder in 2006 when he started the season as the back up QB to Drew Bledsoe. In fact, he's the only Cowboy on the roster with in-game experience.

Apparently the whole idea to hold was Romo's idea, as he approached DeCamillis on the plane coming back from the loss in New York. Some may question if it's worth the risk to have a starting quarterback on the field goal unit, but the Cowboys have to change something.

The field goal unit has been shaky from beyond 40 yards (4-of-10 from 40-49yds), and if your kicker says there's a problem with the holder, then change the holder. If that doesn't work, change the kicker next. Folk thinks he's good, so that should be fine. The Cowboys will need that field goal unit - and Folk specifically - to come through in a clutch situation this season. Yes none of Folk's misses have added up to enough would-be points to change any outcomes of games this season, but that doesn't necessarily mean the team wouldn't play differently or approach a situation differently if they had three points on the scoreboard.

Concerns about having the starting quarterback get unnecessarily hit on the special teams unit aren't as big a factor. If he's going to get his on the special team's unit, it's because he dropped a hold and is trying to do something that isn't planned anyway. If everything goes according to plan, and there is a protection break down, linemen will be running to block the kick, not hit the holder.

Dallas has bigger overall problems - like that whole winning in December thing or trying to advance in the playoffs - but winning has proven to cure a lot of problems in the past. And if it comes down to a game-winning field goal, look for the Cowboys $67-million man to once again be in the middle of it all.

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