Originally posted on Helmet2Helmet  |  Last updated 6/21/12

Though it’s not quite a surprise, we’ve come to find out confidence is at an all-time high in Big D.

Running back DeMarco Murray raised an eyebrow or two last month when he all but guaranteed a trip to the Super Bowl. Now one of the Cowboys’ more established talents is going where most don’t dare when discussing Tony Romo.

Earlier this week, tight end Jason Witten told the Abilene Reporter-News that Romo is an “elite” quarterback who provides the team with its best chance to win a Super Bowl.

“Hopefully, we learned through these tough experiences in getting beat,” Witten said. “That’s what adversity is all about. You can either use that as your crutch or allow it to be what pushes you to chase greatness. I think that’s what this team is going to do. We got a lot better through free agency, got a lot better in the draft. Obviously, I think Tony Romo is an elite quarterback who gives you a chance to compete for a championship.”

Witten, a seven-time Pro Bowler and close friend of Romo’s, used other adjectives to describe the much-criticized signal-caller.

“There’s high expectations for Cowboys,” he said. “There’s been some great quarterbacks who have come through that organization. You look at Roger Staubach and Troy (Aikman), and the expectations are Super Bowls. He’s a phenomenal, cool quarterback. He’s an elite quarterback. But until we win the big game, the criticism is going to come. We understand that, and we have high expectations. Tony is a phenomenal player and a phenomenal player for our football team.”

Though Witten’s assessment may be accurate, his opinion seems to be in the minority. Despite throwing for 31 touchdowns and over 4,100 yards last season, Romo took the brunt of criticism for Dallas’ 8-8 finish, all the while watching the Eli Manning-led Giants capture their second Lombardi Trophy in four years. As Witten says, it only added more fuel to the fire.

“No doubt it was a disappointment — going 8-8,” Witten said. “We had a chance to win the division and lost it. The Giants won and went to the Super Bowl. We don’t need any extra motivation.”

When things go wrong, it’s easy to point the finger at the quarterback. After all, he is the most important player on the team, playing the most important position in sports. When it comes to 2011, however, it’s hard to fault Romo; he cut down on his interceptions (10) and finished with a sparkling 102.5 rating. The real culprit was the defense, which crumbled down the stretch. But that’s a different story.

Last year, Eli labeled himself an elite quarterback, a statement that was greeted by a combination of laughter and apprehension. He went on to silence every last critic. Can Romo do the same? We shall find out.

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