Monday, September 17, 2007

Playing Like A Keeper

IT'S ONLY TWO GAMES, but the Dallas offense certainly has held up its end of the bargain -- putting 82 points up on the board. QB Tony Romo has led 14 scoring drives in those 8 quarters: 10 TDs and 4 FGs. Sure, one game was against the defensively challenged Giants at home, but yesterday was a road game against a Miami defense that has been solid if not dominant for the past several years, and Romo still led those 7 scoring drives. And the 37 points surrendered by the Dolphins was the most their defensive unit had allowed since 2004.

Romo, last week's NFC Offensive Player of the Year, has turned the ball over only once this season. In the second half, the Dallas defense kept setting up Romo with a short field, forcing Dolphins QB Trent Green into 5 turnovers, including 4 picks by the beleaguered secondary, with 2 by CB Anthony Henry.

Next up for Romo is a big test versus Chicago on the road in another showcase Sunday night game. The Bears have a legitimate big-time D, but the Cowboys 2-0 start makes it less of a must-win so early in the season. Nevertheless, the Dallas D should continue to get well versus Chicago's struggling offense, with QB Rex Grossman at the helm.
Romo has 6 TD passes versus just one INT, and is right up there in passer rating with Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady and the other stars at the position. The dimension that Romo brings to the table that the others don't is his mobility; last week versus the Giants he ran for a key TD, yesterday he took off for another 36 yards on 4 scrambles. Yesterday the Cowboys scored 2 TDs on 4th down plays -- one a 34-yard strike from Romo to Owens, the other a 40-yard rumble by Marion Barber, who rushed for 89 yards on just 14 carries.

It all adds up to the Cowboys having their QB of the future locked up for as long as they want, proving they made the right call on draft day bypassing Brady Quinn. Of course, Quinn could still have go on and have an above-average career, and the jury is still deliberating on Romo, who has yet to play even a full 16 game schedule. But with a few more games under his belt now, the sky remains the limit on how high Romo's stock will soar. One thing's for sure: with every good game Romo has, the price tag goes up on what it will take for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to sign him to a long-term deal.

Let's leave the last word on the game to veteran Miami Herald sports columnist Dan Le Batard:
"The difference in Sunday's game? Miami had a quarterback with a past and Dallas had one with a future. Dallas QB Tony Romo is reckless and erratic and athletic and electric, and Miami's wheezing defenders simply could not keep up with him. He had more yards on four runs (36) than Miami's mediocre first-round pick, running back Ronnie Brown, had on 11 (33). Romo made no mistakes while Miami's quarterback made five."
That about sums it up, although I would quibble with Le Batard's use of the word "erratic" to describe Romo's play yesterday. If he "made no mistakes" then how could he have been erratic?

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