Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 7/13/12
Ask any knowledgeable football fan what the most visible most highly scrutinized job in the National Football League is and the majority of people will say QB of the Dallas Cowboys.

Some people may not agree.

The Cowboys, over the last 16+ years, have been toiling in obscurity winning just two playoff games in that span with a QB carousel of names like Carter, Hutchinson, Testeverde and Leaf.

The coaching carousel hasn’t been much better: Gailey, Campo, Phillips. The Cowboys, since Jerry Jones has taken over as owner have had seven coaching changes.

This sounds more like the LA Clippers than the Dallas Cowboys.

Taking all of that into consideration -- are the Cowboys still relevant? Yes. What makes the Cowboys relevant no matter how bad they are they are still America’s Team. They are still the Dallas Cowboys. They still have a large fan base.  

There are Cowboy fans in every corner of the United States. Along with the Packers and Steelers they have one of the largest following of fans in the U.S. and one of the largest following of NFL fans in the world. Look into the crowd when the Cowboys play at the Arizona Cardinals or Cincinnati Bengals and you’ll notice the sea of blue jerseys.  

Indeed, Tony Romo is under scrutiny. But unlike anyone else I’ve seen in the last 25 years he is scrutinized unfairly not only by football fans but also by Dallas fans alike. The scrutiny is unwarranted. And Cowboys fans are lucky to have him. Let’s analyze his career.
Over the years the Dallas Cowboys have made bad draft picks and have started QBs that had no business being in the NFL. That is until Bill Parcells started an undrafted QB out of Eastern Illinois named Tony Romo. Taking over the starting QB position Week 7 in 2006, he ended up throwing 19 TDs and 13 INTs. Not bad for a guy off the street.

The only thing fans seem to remember from that season is the snap that he fumbled on a FG attempt late in the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks that would have put the Cowboys in the lead with time running out.

The fact that an undrafted QB had a 95.1 passer rating, took his team to the playoffs, went 6-4 (would have been 7-3 if the late FG to win the game in Washington was not blocked), had 6 more TDs than INTs and made the Pro Bowl was irrelevant to the Romo naysayers.  
In 2007 Romo led the team to a 13-3 NFC-best record. He threw 36 TD’s and 19 INT’s with a 97.4 QB rating making the Pro Bowl roster. Naysayers point out the playoff loss at home to the eventual Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants. Romo did not play well having 1 TD and 1 INT, completing 50 percent of his passes with a 64.1 QB rating.

What people may not remember is when the Cowboys scored a TD with 53 seconds left in the first half the Cowboys' defense gave up a long play to TE Kevin Boss allowing the Giants to score a TD in 46 seconds to tie the game with seven seconds left in the half.

The most pivotal play of that game was on one of the Cowboys’ final drives. If the Cowboys scored a TD the outcome of that game would be very different. Romo threw a perfect pass to a wide open Patrick Crayton, who would have scored a TD if he had not dropped the ball. That play sealed the Cowboys' fate and their best chance at a Super Bowl appearance.
2008 was a disappointing season for the Cowboys, who went 13-3 the previous year. Expectations were high but the team did not play well. They went 7-9, losing Romo to injury for three weeks at Arizona where Romo threw 3 TD’s and 0 INTs in a losing effort. In 2008 Romo threw 26 TDs and 14 INTs and had a rating of 91.4.
2009 saw the Cowboys back in the playoffs led by Romo, who threw 26 TDs and 9 INTs with a 97.6 efficiency rating in the 11 wins.The Cowboys also posted their first playoff win in eleven years with a 34-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Romo had 2 TDs and 0 INTs.

The following week at Minnesota was a disaster. The Cowboys lost 34-3. They were dominated in every phase of the game. Romo was sacked SIX times as the offensive line had a very poor showing, especially Flozell Adams.
2010 was one of the worst seasons in Dallas Cowboys history. The team went 6-10 with Romo throwing 7 TDs and 7 INTs before his season ended on a missed block by rookie FB Chris Gronkowski in which Romo was sacked and broke his clavicle.

The season was a disaster. Head coach Wade Phillips was fired and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett took over.
2011 was another good year for Romo. He threw 31 TDs and 10 INTs. He accomplished this with three rookie offensive linemen and the team's No. 2 WR, Miles Austin, hurt for the majority of the season. The Cowboys went 8-8, blowing five double digit leads in the fourth quarter.

There were more blown double digit leads in the fourth quarter by the Cowboys in 2011 then there were in the team’s whole 50 year history. The two games the Romo naysayers point to are the Week 1 game at the New York Jets and the Week 4 game at home against the Detroit Lions.

Up 24-10 in the fourth quarter (at New York) the Cowboys squandered the lead. Romo fumbled at the goal line and threw a bad interception in the direction of Dez Bryant who never turned around for the ball. We’ll never know whose fault that was (there have been rumblings that Bryant doesn’t know the playbook too well).

The Cowboys then blew a huge lead at home against the Detroit Lions a few weeks later with Romo throwing two pick six’s. There’s no excuse. He had a bad game. Even Joe Montana had bad games. After the two pick six’s the Cowboys were still up 30-17 on the Detroit Lions. The Dallas defense then gave up 17 second half points in the loss.

In losses to the New York Jets, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals and the New York Giants (first game) Romo left the field with the game either tied or with the lead.
In Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers and Week 3 against the Washington Redskins (in 2011) Romo showed guts and determination. His performance in both of these games show why he is a championship QB.

At San Francisco in Week 2 he went 23 for 30 with 2 TDs and 0 INTs. This is the game where he suffered a punctured lung and a fractured rib. He was out for a few series (where the 49ers took the lead).

He then came back in to complete five out of six passes on the drive that tied the game. In OT Romo completed a 77-yard pass to backup WR Jessie Holley to set up a FG that beat the San Francisco 49ers at home.  
The game that defined Romo as a leader willing to do whatever it takes to win a game came in Week 3 when the Dallas Cowboys hosted the Washington Redskins. Playing with a broken rib Romo went 22-36 with 1 INT and 0 TD’s. Dallas was without WR Miles Austin and had to start rookie backup C Phil Costa (remember this was in addition to having two other rookies starting on the line).

In the course of the game Costa snapped the ball over Romo’s head three times. The offensive line couldn’t get the snap count right all night. Backup WR Kevin Ogletree had no idea where to line up and obviously was running the wrong routes while dropping almost every pass thrown his way.

The Cowboys didn’t lead in the game until Romo drove them 45 yards late in the 4thquarter. A Dan Bailey FG put them ahead for good giving the Cowboys an 18-16 victory.  Romo’s performance was one of the gutsiest QB performances in NFL history.
Romo was undrafted and signed off of the street. His critics can argue he falters in clutch situations. What’s more clutch then playoff games? He’s played in just four of them. The first against the Seattle Seahawks was his fault as a holder not as a QB but nevertheless was his fault.

If Patrick Crayton caught that pass in the 4thquarter in Romo’s second playoff game against the New York Giants, the outcome would have been different. The third playoff game Romo played well beating the Philadelphia Eagles.

In the fourth playoff game verses the Minnesota Vikings the whole team was dominated with the offensive line performing horribly. His play as a QB was not the reason for any of the playoff losses.  
Some people measure QBs purely by numbers. Since starting his first game Romo has a career QB rating of 96.9. He has 149 TDs and 72 INTs and is completing 64.5 percent of his passes. He has been to two Pro Bowls.

Romo needs 16 TD throws to pass Troy Aikman to be the franchise’s all-time leader. His numbers are Hall of Fame-worthy. Many people measure a QB by wins. In the 78 complete games he started, Romo’s record is 48-30. He has won 61 percent of his games.

A team that wins 61 percent of their games nine times out of ten will make the playoffs. Add intangibles to the numbers and the winning percentages. Performances in games like the Washington and San Francisco game in 2011 reflect his intangibles.

All of the scrutiny is unfair and unwarranted. Romo’s overall body of work stands on its own. 

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