Despite racking up impressive numbers, Tony Romo is more focused on getting wins
QB, among elite, wants success for team
Tony Romo has accomplished so much as an NFL quarterback in such a short period of time.
Romo went to the Pro Bowl as a first-year starter with the Cowboys in 2006. He set a franchise record for touchdown passes in 2008 with 36, then established the franchise mark for passing yards in 2009 with 4,483.
Romo finally has thrown the necessary 1,500 passes to qualify for the NFL career passing list and debuts in 2010 as the third-most efficient quarterback in history — ahead of Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Joe Montana and Drew Brees.
And we still haven’t seen the best of Tony Romo. But we have a chance to this season.
The Cowboys have surrounded Romo with the most talented supporting cast of his five-year tenure.
Tight end Jason Witten, wide receivers Miles Austin and Roy Williams, and halfback Marion Barber have been to the Pro Bowl. Running back Felix Jones, tight end Martellus Bennett and wide receiver Dez Bryant were premium draft choices with Pro Bowl traits.
There may not be a deeper cast of playmakers anywhere in the NFL. Romo’s cast is deeper in quantity than those that won Super Bowls with Roger Staubach at the helm in the 1970s and with Troy Aikman at the helm in the 1990s.
So Romo could be in a position to batter his own franchise records and challenge a few NFL marks as well. But that may not be the path Romo and the Cowboys choose to follow if they hope to remain home in February to play the Super Bowl on their home field. History has not been kind to the great passing teams of the modern era.
The NFL’s No. 1 passing team has played for a championship only five times in Super Bowl history: the 1984 Miami Dolphins, 1999 and 2001 St. Louis Rams, 2002 Oakland Raiders and 2007 New England Patriots.
Those teams went 1-4 in Super Bowls, and the 1999 title game ended with Tennessee on the St. Louis 1yard line. So the No. 1-ranked passing offenses are 1 yard shy of possibly being winless in Super Bowls.
In each of those five cases, the quarterback of that top-ranked passing attack was the league MVP: Dan Marino in 1984, Warner in 1999 and 2001, Rich Gannon in 2002 and Brady in 2007.
Marino set the NFL record for passing yards with 5,084 in 1984, and Brady set the league mark for touchdown passes with 50 in 2007. But neither has a Super Bowl ring to show for those seasons.
For all of his passing yards and touchdowns in the last decade, Manning has only one Super Bowl ring to show for his arm. Brett Favre also has managed to win only one ring in his 19 seasons, and Ma-Marino never won any.
If Romo’s playmakers all match their career years in 2010, the Cowboys’ offense will have 350 receptions, 4,594 yards and 31 touchdowns in the bank. And that doesn’t include anything from the rookie Bryant, who could push this offense into the stratosphere with his play-playmaking ability.
So 400 completions, 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns could all be within Romo’s reach in 2010. All of his playmakers are in their 20s — still young enough to have those career seasons.
Romo turned 30 this year. He’s grown as a passer and matured as a leader in his 55 career starts. He realizes the Cowboys — and the 2010 season — are not about Tony Romo.
“At the end of the day, winning is what counts at my position,” Romo said. “As I get older, it doesn’t matter to me if I throw for 100 yards a game or 400 if we win. You’re a far better quarterback when you throw for 150 yards and win than when you throw for 320 and lose. Stats are just stats.”
The Cowboys finished sixth in the NFL in passing last season, winning the NFC East and advancing to the semifinal round of the playoffs. Romo is more concerned with taking the next step collectively as a team than individually.
“Two of my favorites were Magic Johnson and Larry Bird,” Romo said. “They were selfless with the way they played. They could have easily averaged another five to 10 points per game if they had wanted to, but I don’t know that they would have achieved their team goals.
“For my perspective, (statistics) are something that kind of just happen in the process of winning or in an effort to be the best you can be.”