The Dallas Cowboys needed quarterback Tony Romo to come up big against the Washington Redskins on Sunday night. Instead, he threw three interceptions, including a crucial fourth-quarter pick that largely contributed to the Cowboys' season-ending loss. After the latest down moment in Romo's inconsistent career, I think it's time for Dallas to move on.
Romo's one of those guys who seems to do really well when it doesn't count, but when it counts, he doesn't get the job done. It's not because he's not smart; it's not because he's not athletic; it's not because he doesn't have ability. He just doesn't do what he needs to do, and I think his performance Sunday was a prime example of that.
First, I just don't think he was sharp, throwing the ball behind people and so forth. On that big fourth-quarter interception, he was fooled. Rob Jackson made a good play for the Redskins, but Romo was just fooled.
He also seemed like he was on edge all night. After his first interception, on a ball intended for Kevin Ogletree, the television cameras captured a contentious back-and-forth between the quarterback and his receiver. That would seem to indicate that Romo was pressing, that he almost didn't want to admit the interception was his fault, even though he did throw a poor ball.
I don't think there's any lack of toughness on this guy's part. I think he has the ability. Romo can win, but being able to win and actually winning are two different things. There's just something lacking in his performance.
They talk about guys who have it; guys like Andrew Luck, who has guided the Indianapolis Colts to the playoffs despite being surrounded by mediocre talent. As far as I can see, Romo just doesn't have it.
I think everybody's puzzled about this guy. Often, when someone is as inconsistent as Romo has been, it's because he's not very bright, but that definitely is not the case with Romo.
I was on the sideline before the Cowboys played the Chicago Bears in Week 4 when Steve Young walked up to me. Here's a guy who was a great quarterback, a quality person who knows what he's talking about. He knows the game of football. And he comes up to me and says, "Hey, Gil -- tell me about Romo." Now, if a guy like Steve Young can't figure Romo out, that says something.
Bill Parcells had the best take on Romo back when he was coaching the Cowboys. Romo had just enjoyed a great game, but Parcells reminded everyone not to send him to the Hall of Fame just yet. I think that might tell you a little about what Parcells thought of Romo.
I don't think the guy's a choker; I really don't. It just seems that if something bad can happen, it's going to happen to Romo. (See: The Week 8 loss to the New York Giants, when Dez Bryant's would-be game-winning touchdown was overturned because his hand was out of bounds.) It's the old Black Cat Theory. He also didn't have a very good offensive line or receiving corps this year.
As someone who's had a quarterback rating of 90 or better every year he's taken significant snaps, Romo offers plenty of promise. He's always offered that. He threw the ball pretty well at the NFL Scouting Combine. He was one of three or four quarterbacks who threw in the drills for other position players, like a coaches' assistant, and he looked pretty good. He was an outstanding high school athlete in Burlington, Wis.
When he first got to Dallas, Reebok gave him a minimal endorsement contract based on my recommendation, because I saw something in him. I looked at him and I saw a future; I saw the possibility that he was going to be much better than just an undrafted free-agent quarterback.
Here's a little history lesson on promising quarterbacks who never pan out: In 1953, the Los Angeles Rams made Rudy Bukich the 24th overall draft pick. Bukich played at USC, and when you watched him, he looked unbelievable. He was a tall guy with an outstanding arm and great accuracy. They used to put helmets on dummy bags 30 yards downfield, and he'd knock them off. However, he never amounted to much in the NFL. Still, he hung around for 14 years, because he had talent. Everybody saw it, and everybody thought they could develop it -- but it never happened. I don't know if that's the case with Romo or not.
I guess everything is always fixable. But I do think that Jason Garrett is pretty good at working with quarterbacks. If Garrett can't fix Romo, that's not a good sign.I live in the Dallas area, and when I went out to get the paper Monday morning, two different people said, "Boy, how about that Romo?" The whole community is down on the guy, and I don't think he'll ever be successful in those circumstances. Everybody says they don't read the paper, they don't listen to the radio or watch TV, but I don't think that's true. I think they do. When everybody in Cowboys Nation is saying that Dallas has to get rid of Romo, I think that carries over to the team.
I think it's time to trade Romo. You hate to do it, but there's a time when a team has to just cut its losses.