Randy Galloway: Tony Romo vs. the mystery routes

For Phil Costa, the Cowboys’ young center who listens to strange voices, out of town help arrived this week.

Nobody, of course, would blame Tony Romo for also asking, “Where’s my help from out of town?”

In a classy move, Andre Gurode phoned Costa on Tuesday from his new football home in Baltimore, offering the kid encouragement and also advice on how to handle fake snap-count voices coming from across the line of scrimmage.

“He’s a former teammate and a good guy, and I knew he’d be feeling kind of low,” said Gurode, who until this season was a five-time Pro Bowl starting center for the Cowboys.

The O-line youth movement, plus a salary dump, cost him his job here in August, and Baltimore signed him. (Gurode was praised by the Ravens’ coaches for his start at guard on Sunday against the Rams.)

While watching his old team on Monday Night Football, Andre took no delight in Costa’s snap-fu, and obviously holds no grudge against Valley Ranch management.

“I wanted to try and help Phil,” he said.

Meanwhile, I’m seeking confirmation that the TV producers of America’s Got Talent have booked another former Cowboy, Stephen Bowen, for a show appearance.

Apparently, Bowen does a great Romo imitation on snap counts.

Bowen had only three tackles for his new team, but caused Costa such confusion he could have won the game for the Redskins with his fake Romo. Sure, it’s illegal, but only if you get caught.

Meanwhile, Costa’s troubles were one of many worries Monday night for Tony, but absolutely nothing irritates a quarterback more than wide receivers who don’t know their routes.

Romo’s wrath, or “leadership,” if you will, was repeatedly on display against the Redskins.

Take Miles Austin out of the lineup (he’s not expected to play again Sunday against the unbeaten Lions) and the Cowboys’ wide receiver corps may have the NFL’s lowest collective football IQ.

That doesn’t mean all these guys are dumb. In fact, one of the main culprits from Monday night was Kevin Ogletree, who has a degree in sociology from an academic powerhouse, the University of Virginia.

Why then, three years into his Valley Ranch tenure, does Ogletree not know the playbook?

Trying to be nice about it, let’s just say Dez Bryant also “struggles” with his playbook learning.

It was Ogletree himself who told the postgame story about the Romo rant he received after an end zone route was suddenly cut off by the receiver.

“Tony asked me what I was thinking on that play,” said Ogletree. “I mumbled some answer, and he looked at me and said, ‘That’s stupid.'”

Ogletree didn’t take the butt-chewing personal. He said Romo was showing him “tough love.”

To be honest, if a botched route cost the Cowboys a game, showing Ogletree the door should be the next move.

Mistakes happen in a football game. But no mistake should ever happen because a player doesn’t know his assignments.

Again, it’s not just Ogletree. Dez is the same kind of worry.

Anybody who didn’t appreciate Miles Austin was a fool to start with, but after Monday night, man…

Is there any out-of-town receiver help to be had? Like immediately?

Randy Moss? No. Eldorado Owens? Double no.

Team chemistry is currently strong.

Rats are not welcome.

What about T.J. Houshmandzadeh? At age 34, the scouts say his legs are gone, which is why he’s unsigned.


Nothing out there available that would be an upgrade is what I’m told, even if an upgrade wouldn’t take much.


In hindsight, allowing Sam Hurd to walk in free agency should never have happened, not with a gimpy Dez, Miles now injured and the promotion of Ogletree to third receiver when Hurd departed.

Speaking of mistakes, don’t start me talking again about last season’s ouster of Patrick Crayton, which goes back to Roy Williams, the mistake who keeps on costing.

Why not him?

It was somewhat surprising that Jesse Holley was basically ignored Monday night when it came to playing time? Didn’t Mr. 4th-and-Long do OK in San Fran?

Long shots?

Valley Ranch voices say there’s a practice squad raw rookie named Andre Holmes from little Hillsdale College who is showing enough to possibly earn a promotion. For now, however, that’s the longest of long shots.

For whatever reason, the Cowboys were bullish once free agency started in late July to upgrade and regroup at defensive end, at safety and they attempted it at cornerback. But even with the lack of experience at wide receiver being an issue, there was no urgency.

Ogletree as the third receiver coming out of training camp was a questionable decision, but not considered drastic. Then, however, Austin was injured.

The combo of Dez and Ogletree as the starting wideouts means Romo has to doubly decipher mystery routes.

Three games into the season is a bit early for NFC East trends, but let’s just say the Eagles don’t look that dreamy, while the Giants and Redskins are only OK clubs.

The Cowboys, at least at the moment, seem to fit well in the East picture, particularly on defense.

But in the NFL of today, you pass to win.

Based on Monday night, the Cowboys receivers don’t pass even the first test:

Know the playbook.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. on weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

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