Rival Report: Tony Romo

Cowboys QB Tony Romo has been in the news plenty of late, perhaps as much as NFL MVP Tom Brady. Romo, who was practically untouchable by the media earlier this season, has come under plenty of fire of late, most recently for vacationing in Cancun with Jessica Simpson during Dallas' bye week. Romo conducted a conference call with the New York media on Wednesday. Here's what he had to say...

Q: There was an impression that Tampa Bay, by resting their guys, almost giving their starters a bye week, wasn't very sharp against the Giants. Do you think that is going to be much of a factor this week in that you guys haven't played in a while?

A: No. Honestly I think more than anything if you have good players they are going to play good and if you have not quite as good players you are probably not going to play quite as good. When it comes down to it, everyone likes to pinpoint reasons why teams win or lose. And usually it is because one team has a little bit more talent than another, really, at the end of the day.

Q: You sat on the bench for a few years before becoming a starter, whereas Eli became a starter almost immediately. Can you just comment about why some quarterbacks – their learning curve seems to be different than others.

A: I just think that some guys, as far as the ability to come right in and be – only takes a short amount of time – some guys just learn at a younger age. They get more fundamental work, they get to learn about x's and o's quicker. I think some people have a pedigree in some ways. You don't become the first pick in the draft without being an outstanding high school and college quarterback. It is just very seldom that it happens where you just all of a sudden come on the team and get to there. So I think he has had the pedigree since he was young. And obviously give him a chance to always play at a high level. I think some other people just – for me personally, I know that I got started late. I really didn't start playing until I was a junior in high school. And I just needed to get the raw stuff down a little bit that I needed to improve on and be more consistent every day. Realistically some guys have the ability to raise their level of play up and just some guys don't, I guess.

Q: It is usually a case of ... mental appitude?

A: I think that is a major part of it. Some guys have the ability mentally to handle that; some don't. It is a tough thing on anyone trying to give a reason why a quarterback is good or not good, or if he is going to make it or not make it. As you guys can tell, a lot of people missed on that. I think the Giants ought to say they got a good one in Eli. So I don't think there should be much talk there.

Q: A lot of people say that Eli validated himself by getting his first playoff victory. How much do you need to get yours?

A: I don't think validation. I want to win just because I want to win. For no other reason other than you work your butt off for so long and you try to put forth so much effort to get in a position to be successful this time of year. And I don't look at it for any validation. I can still remember people talking about Peyton Manning, how he couldn't win a big game and all of those things because he didn't win a Super Bowl. At the time he was the best quarterback in the NFL. And you are still hearing all of these negatives about him. You are fighting an uphill battle if you are going to try and please – not to say you guys – but the media or a whole bunch of fans or people in general. So just go out there and try and work as hard as you can and try and win every football game and compete your butt off and let the chips fall where they may.

Q: Can you talk about Jason Witten's breakout season and why you have come to rely on him so much more as a target?

A: He is just such a complete player. He understands – he is your perfect …… coach. You can't have enough of these guys. He is talented; he is big. He has got all of the size and tools. He has got speed but he wants to be good so he practices ….. He thinks about the game a lot. He is the kind of guy – he works on his craft. He is a professional in all of the ways and he is just an outstanding talent. I'm lucky to have him.

Q: With the added specter of gossip elements, is it difficult for you? Is it fun, a distraction? How are you dealing with that?

A: Oh no, I learned a while ago that stuff doesn't matter. It gives something for people to sell papers and people to listen to the radio. It is the same as those gossip magazines. Some people like to take them out of the daily routine and read that stuff and talk about it because it is fun. But I'm pretty sure the reality of the situation – that is all pretty much meaningless. I figured that out last year. And I can still remember going into the season against the Giants when I first came and how I did too much in the offseason, maybe, and I wasn't prepared for that. Well, I think we did all right. So it is just another part in the long phase of life.

Q: Are you surprised at the ex-players that are all over the TV network now that have spent so much time talking about it as well?

A: I really haven't known about it until you just said it right here. I live kind of a sheltered life during the season in some ways. I know for me, part of the reason I got away last weekend was just because I don't feel sometimes that I get to be on my own when I am in certain places. It was nice to go there and just rent a house and just sit around and watch football over the weekend and not have to worry about answering my phone or worry about tickets, or radio shows or TV things, and just the normal everyday things. I think I needed it and I think some of our guys needed to. So I think it will hopefully help us prepare for this week.

Q: Is a lot being made of it down there right now?

A: I don't know. Honestly I guess it would be too much if it affected someone. But if I am the one who is in the middle of it I know it doesn't hurt me. So I don't think it is a big deal. Whether too much is being made is open for your guys' discussion. But I don't think that it really affects anything. Me, personally, I don't think much about it, I guess.

Q: From a distance you have always seemed to be a guy who had a good sense of humor. Do you find some degree of humor in the coverage of your personal life? Do you think it has crossed some line of civility?

A: I have a hard time with that just because the funny thing is that I'm more of a guy that likes to stay out of --- honestly, I joke around with my friends, "Gosh, it would be great if no one ever talked about you – good or bad." In some ways it would be awesome. You could just go play this game, live your life and enjoy everything that surrounds it as far the ability to just to play a game for a living. But at the other end of the spectrum, part of you guys talking about it is what makes this game so popular. That is what makes the fans and people want to come out there and support you. Without them, without the 60,000-70,000 people at the games, it wouldn't be the same atmosphere. So it is what it is. But me personally, I just live my life. I try and work hard at football. I try and do things the right way. And none of you guys – I have probably told you before – no one is even going to remember my name in ten years from now, anyway. So just enjoy it and go out and win some football games.

Q: There are reports from Dallas that Jessica is not coming to the game. Is that true?

A: I like how it is a ‘report.' That is a good way to ask the question, too. I'm slowly learning the tricks, guys. I'm slowly learning. I don't know. Everyone keep their eyes open, we will find out, I guess.

Q: How do you evaluate the Giants pass rush and in trying to keep them out. Is it more of a physical challenge for your line or more of a schematic challenge?

A: That is a good question. I think the reality of it is that you really can't keep them from getting close to you. They are just too talented in some ways that you understand that they are going to be around the quarterback. You just have to have a guy --- we have a pretty good O-line and I think that they obviously have, in my opinion, probably the best D-line we have faced every year that I have played. So the last two years they are the top D-line that I go against each year. I change my approach a little bit sometimes when I play the Giants. I sit here and I watch film. Sometimes in these games that are a little bit more important, I guess, than others sometimes you kind of get yourself – you are going to go with the team's game plan but you are also going to formulate your own game plan as to how you are going to attack them and what you are going to do in certain situations and things. And I'm slowly coming up with that as this week has progressed. I watched a lot of tapes. So I think part of that is to figure out a way to slow down the pass rush in some ways. And I'll come up with that and our team will, too, shortly.

Q: Is the playoff loss to Seattle last year a distant memory or something that motivates you?

A: I think it helps motivate you in the offseason to work with a chip on your shoulder. I went out there every day with a purpose. Not just because of that but that is kind of how I have always done it. And that just added fuel to the fire I guess. I understand this. The reason that I am out doing certain things that I am doing that other people don't see or know about, which in some way makes me to feel like I can have an advantage. Part of the reason that I play with some confidence sometimes, is just because I feel like I have an edge. Because I know what I have put into it. So I feel like I have a chance to be successful because or the time and effort and the things that I feel like I am doing that I hope to think not everyone is. And so in that sense you do all of those things to get yourself to this point in the year. Now does it guarantee success? No. There have been plenty of people that I have been around that work extremely hard that haven't succeeded. But I also know that it allows me to have a chance to be as successful as I can be. I think there is one thing that I know – that I love this game and I love this time of year; football. This is as fun as it gets. That is why you do everything in January through August and August to now, is to go out and play these games, hopefully to play your best games. And I will do everything I can to get to that point, hopefully.

Q: How much does Terrell's injury affect the big play aspect of your offense?

A: Well I think anytime you – I'm not sure if he is going to play. I think he is progressing a little bit. But he was not there for our walk through and stuff. So we'll see. I know he is progressing along but we are going to still have the same different style of things. I'm not sure how it is going to affect things. I just know that he is a talented player that you really can't just replace. You are probably not going to get quite as many one-on-one matchups as you would with him in the game.

Q: You said at the start of this, that talent often, is the real reason in winning and losing. When you look at the Giants, has that talent equation for them changed at all from the previous two meetings?

A: No, I honestly think that the Giants are the --- I don't want to say ‘underrated' but from the records they are --- they really played against us two pretty decent games. They lost to the Packers and the Patriots. Really when you look at that you could make a real claim that those are the three record-wise best teams, other than the Colts, in the League. And if you have four losses between that, then they really have done a good job in the rest of their games. I think they are a team that is a very dangerous just because of their --- like I said, their talent level. They have the talent to be a great, great football team. Even though the record says they are really a good football team, I think most teams understand that they can beat anybody. And they have showed that against us, they have showed it against the Patriots and they showed it last week against the Buccaneers.

Q: Could you speak in specifics about what has kind of gone awry with your offense the last few weeks of the season as opposed to the first twelve –thirteen weeks where you were one of the top two or three units in the League?

A: I think people forget, we played pretty good offensively against Carolina. We had 400 and some yards offense. That was Week 16 or the second to the last game or whatever. So we didn't carry all of our stuff against Washington just because --- and that is part of what you do --- sometimes you just put preseason thing up there and you go out and do it. They played well. In this League when one team has everything to play for and the other one – they go out there to win and to play, usually it doesn't go very well for that team. That happened to us there. But we are very confident. And I would say the only game this year that we really struggled offensively would be the Philadelphia game. And I think part of that was just me being off. I figured that would happen at some point during the season. So hopefully I got that one out of the way and it doesn't happen again.

Q: The way you improvise and make plays with your legs, you remind a lot of people of Roger Staubach. Have you ever gotten a chance to pick his brain on how he played the position? And if so, what kind of things has he told you?

A: Yeah, I have talked to Roger. Roger has been great. He and Troy have been kind of like mentors in some ways around here. Roger had a great line that I still remember. He said, "You know, they are going to try and coach certain things. Landry in my 11th year was trying to coach this out of me. That is part of what made me who I was. Just be yourself. Go out and play and that will give your team the best chance to win."

Q: How is your thumb?

A: It is doing good. Hopefully it will be fine by the time the game comes. It has been an interesting three weeks around here essentially. But it has been getting better so it should be fine.

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