Daily Archives: January 6th, 2013

TOUGH-LOVE AT THE RANCH: Dallas Cowboys need a new voice to bend Romo’s ear

Dallas Cowboys Valley Ranch sign - The Boys Are Back blog

A week later, and not a creature was stirring at Valley Ranch, not even Jerry.

Reports from the Irving compound say it was an uneasy week, which would have been the case anyway after another end-of-season failure, but uncertainty about the future added greatly to the negative fog.

Jerry would be button-popping proud, if he had been hanging around, to witness, yes, an "uncomfortable" bunch of football people.

When Mr. Jones declared he was placing Valley Ranch on "uncomfortable" lockdown, and said "change" was coming, some of us laughed. Well, OK, I laughed anyway. This man loves and promotes the country club atmosphere for his football team, and now, suddenly, he’s going Vince Lombardi on us?

But my paycheck doesn’t have Jerry’s signature on it, so laughing comes easy. For those, however, who draw paychecks from Mr. Jones, they are sweating the fact that this time — yes, this time — Jerry might be serious about "changes."

Whatever, Jerry has already achieved his declaration that "uncomfortable" would prevail. And since Jerry wasn’t in sight at Valley Ranch by the end of the week, that added to the agony of waiting.

The guess from here, and I’d say it’s a good guess, is Jerry is dug in, maybe at his duck hunting lodge in Arkansas, and working the phone lines nonstop, calling his long-standing list of priority "advisers."

That would include such names as Gibbs, Holmgren, Switzer, Wolf (Ron, the former Green Bay GM), and surprisingly enough, even Parcells and, yes, Johnson, as in Jimmy.

Due to a little verbal dust-up in early November between Jimmy and Jerry, it’s not certain Jones will be making that particular call this time.

But if so, it’s already a fact that Jimmy would deliver a message that Jerry has heard before from him. And so has Jason Garrett.

I’d call that message the No. 1 priority of the off-season: Hire an offensive coordinator and play-caller, while making Garrett the head coach only.

And this is really not about Garrett. It’s about Tony Romo.

Over the last six years, Tony has had only one offensive guru, confidante, adviser and friend.

That’s Garrett.

Most quarterbacks, due to the nature of the job, need all that.

What Tony also needs, however, is a guy who will scream at him when a scream is necessary. Say, oh, maybe like halftime in Washington last week.

We all know Tony is a good quarterback who also screws up at the worst possible time. Garrett gives him love. But at this point, Tony needs to hear some screaming.

Besides, what can that kind of change actually hurt? It’s not like you’d be attempting to fix what’s not broke.

I was talking to an NFL guy last week about quarterbacks in general, and Romo in particular.

His praise, by the way, for Romo was immense, and this was just 72 hours after the meltdown against the Redskins.

The Romo defenders — I’ve long been one, but there’s some serious backsliding at the moment — will agree totally with what this guy had to say. Even the Romo haters will have to concede he has a good point.

"There might be 10 to 12 teams out there who don’t need Romo, but there’s close to 20 that would take him in a minute," he said. "He’s good. But he’s not good enough to do what the Cowboys have to ask him to do.

"Tony has to win every game for that team. I’m not kidding. This season he had to win every game. You couldn’t count on the defense to steal you a game. You couldn’t count on the running game to bail him out.

"Tony had to win every game. Even Aikman, even Montana, didn’t have to win every game. Tony got on that roll in November and December and he was winning every game. But the law of averages said it would catch up with him.

"In Washington the other night, it caught up with him."

This guy’s bottom line was the Cowboys have got to get better around Romo. Much better. We all agree with that. That’s just common sense.

But as this particular NFL voice added, "Tony can also make some of the damndest mistakes. He makes bad throws that leave you stunned. I like him, but when asked to do so much, he does have his history of screwing it up."

Would a different offensive voice from a coaching standpoint change that? Maybe not, but what’s wrong with giving it a try?

On the topic of NFL quarterbacks, the name Philip Rivers came up while talking to the NFL guy. The last two seasons, Rivers had been awful. And even while Rivers adamantly defended head coach Norv Turner, when heads rolled last week, it was Norv’s neck that took the hit.

"See, the difference between Romo and Rivers is that Rivers cannot move in the pocket at all," said the guy. "Romo is one of the best at avoiding the rush. Over the last couple of years, teams blitzed Rivers like crazy.

"In the past, you could blitz Rivers, and he had a tight end, a receiver, a running back he could get the ball to, and Rivers made you pay for the blitz. But look what Rivers now plays with. His best weapons all left in free agency and went down with injuries. The front office made some decisions that really backfired.

"Romo, however, has the weapons to beat the blitz. Witten, the emergence of Dez, and the running back, Murray. Tony should have eaten the Redskins alive with all the blitzing they did. Instead, three picks happened."

Let’s not blame that on Garrett, the game-plan man and the play-caller. But would a different voice in Romo’s ear make a difference?

And the name of this new guy, if there is one? I don’t have a name. Norv is out there. Jimmy would tell Jerry to hire Norv, we know that. But a guy in San Diego told me this week that Norv has already been contacted by at least 10 teams to be the new offensive coordinator.

Certainly, Norv is in no rush to make a decision. He can basically pick and choose.

But if Jerry is really going to make good on his making a "change," the No. 1 priority has to be …

OK, there are many priorities. I’ve got my No. 1. Jerry, meanwhile, is polling his "advisers."

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