Tony Romo's transition from the gridiron to the broadcast booth exceeding even the loftiest expectations. Perhaps the most trusted NFL game analyst since John Madden, Romo even earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Sports Personality in his first year on the job.
While the former Cowboys quarterback was touted primarily for his ability to envision play calls in advance, that limited narrative ignores the breadth of his football acumen. In his most transcendent moments, Romo channeled Willy Wonka as a choose-your-adventure tour guide, allowing the television audience to experience a phenomenon akin to virtual reality.
When he speaks, football fans listen.
"I think the Packers probably got better more than any team I saw this offseason," Romo said, via WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee. "It's early and injuries happen, but right now, they're right at the top for me as far as a team you wouldn't want to see in the playoffs."
Romo pointed to the secondary and offensive line as last year's weak spots that have been reinforced, adding that the wide receiver corps could be "even more dynamic" if one of the young wideouts emerges as a reliable playmaker. After playing with future Hall of Famer Jason Witten for a decade, though, Romo singled out a former All-Pro tight end as the potential difference-maker for Green Bay's 2018 prospects.
"The Jimmy Graham thing is a big deal, people don't understand," Romo explained. "You're going to see old school Jimmy Graham. You pair him with Aaron Rodgers, you're going to see a little bit of a different animal. In the red zone, that will be almost unstoppable. If the secondary is a little bit better, I think they're the team to beat this year."
Romo can be accused of playing to the local fans' obvious bias, but that doesn't alter the fact that he's offering cogent, sober-minded analysis from a position of expertise.
Before Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone last October, Green Bay was shaping up as a legitimate title contender. Now that Rodgers is healthy, Graham is onboard as a red-zone mismatch and former Browns coach Mike Pettine is reshaping an overhauled defense, Romo has every reason to believe the Packers will be in the thick of the Super Bowl hunt come January.