Cowboys Expect 'Full-Go' Romo; Why It Matters

The Cowboys' training camp introductory press conference in Oxnard on Wednesday was loaded with storylines, but none greater than coach Jason Garrett's pronouncement regarding rehabbing QB Tony Romo. 'We do anticipate him being able to go in all aspects,' Garrett said, looking forward to Thursday's Day 1 of work. 'Full-go tomorrow.'

Now, Garrett did temper his remarks by adding that the Dallas Cowboys coaching and training staff will be monitoring Tony Romo as he returns to football following season-ending discectomy surgery last winter. Garrett said he doesn't want the 34-year-old QB "bangin' balls''; that is, making an endless series of meaningless and demanding throws.

But the forecast is the forecast: "Full-go tomorrow.''

And therefore, for the Cowboys, the forecast could not be sunnier.

Romo is entering his 12th season in the NFL (and his eighth year as a starter). Some say that he isn't elite because he hasn't won the "big one" yet. Some say that we've already seen the best of Romo. This could be a possibility. Looking at his age and his recent back problems, the end may be in sight.

At the same time, the Cowboys think the best of Romo could still be ahead of him.

History has shown that most QB's in their mid-late 30's don't have as much success. However, that doesn't mean that's always the case. Jon Elway was 38 when he won his first Super Bowl, and at 37, Peyton Manning had arguably the best statistical season by a QB in NFL history. Romo's back problems? Tony himself notes that Joe Montana and Troy Aikman each had similar surgeries and were able to win Super Bowls afterwards.

Part of the Romo-related optimism in this camp will also involve the bolstered offensive line that will be protecting him. More than Dez, more than Linehan, more than any words that come flying out of owner Jerry Jones' mouth, that's how you build a Romo-friendly offense.

Romo's critics won't like to see this, but ... let's compare Romo's 112 starts (including playoff games) with the first 112 starts of two current quarterbacks who are considered elite in the NFL ... Brees and Peyton.

Through Romo's 112 starts, he has won a total of 64 games. That’s more than either Peyton (62) or Brees (58) did in their first 112 starts. Romo has completed 2,519 of 3,910 pass attempts for a 64.2% completion percentage. Manning completed 2,459 of 3,915 pass attempts for a 64.1%, and Brees completed 2,486 of 3,876 for 67.6%.

Romo’s 2,519 completions grossed him 30,397 yards, 212 TDs, and 103 INTs, with a TD/INT ratio of 2.0. Manning had 29,321 yards, 212 TDs, and 123 INTs, with a TD/INT ratio of 1.7. Brees had 28,206 yards, 185 TDs, and 104 INTs, with a TD/INT ratio of 1.8. Also, Romo's passer rating is 95.8 while Manning boasted a 98.9 rating and Brees was at the bottom of the three, with 95.5.

Statistically speaking, Romo is not outclassed there.

Romo's postseason stats compared to Brees and Manning in their first 112 starts? It's a team game, but the 1-3 record is a fact for Romo. So is completing 80 of 135 passes (59.3%) for 832 yards, 4 TDs, and 2 INTs (TD/INT ratio of 2.0) and an 80.8 passer rating. In his first-112-game span as a pro, Manning’s playoff record was 2-4, completing 117 of 208 (58.2%) for 1,476 yards, 10 TD and 6 INTs (TD/INT ratio of 1.6) and an 84.8 passer rating. And during the same period of starts, Brees had a 1-2 record, completing 78 of 123 (63.4%) for 916 yards, 5 TDs, and 2 INTs (TD/INT ratio of 2.5) for a 92.7 rating.

Again ... comparable.

This isn't an argument that Romo is destined to equal Brees and Manning as late-in-career QB successes. It's simply an acknowledgement that there is a foundation to do so, there is time to do so, and if Garrett's "full-go'' forecast is correct, Tony Romo has the health to do so.

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