01:13 AM CDT on Friday, October 3, 2008
IRVING – The standard around here is winning Super Bowls. This franchise has had too many great teams and great players and great moments for us to settle for less.
Besides, every player on the Cowboys has made it known since minicamps and OTA's began in May that winning the Super Bowl is their goal.
Marcus Spears calls it the big dance. Tony Romo refers to it as the journey. Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips won't even talk about it. So we hold the Cowboys to a Super Bowl standard, as we should.
Each week, it's not just about whether the Cowboys win or lose – no one expects perfection – it's about playing at a championship level. Do that, and the wins will take care of themselves.
If the players and coaches don't like it, too bad. If expectations are too much, we can always hold them to a lower standard.
All of this explains why Romo is today's featured topic. It's time for him to play better.
Romo has been pretty good, which is no surprise, since he's one of the league's top-five quarterbacks.
He has 1,192 yards passing with eight touchdowns and a passer rating of 99.0 for those of you who pay attention to those types of things. He has passed for at least 300 yards in three games, but Romo will be the first to tell you, as he did this week, that stats never tell the entire story.
They're too easy to manipulate.
Not even Jessica could look at his performance the last two games and say he's played his best football. It's as though he can't find a rhythm.
In his first two games, Romo completed 72.5 percent of his passes and averaged 10.2 yards per attempt. In the last two games, he's completed 58.4 percent of his passes and averaged 7.3 per attempt.
Romo has started 31 regular-season games – not quite two full seasons – so he's still learning the game.
The only stat that should have everyone at Valley Ranch concerned is Romo's five turnovers this season.
He's thrown an interception in each of the Cowboys' four games and lost a fumble, which was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Those turnovers have resulted in 23 points – two touchdowns and three field goals – for the opposition.
He's also thrown two interceptions inside the opponents' 20. Both were the result of poor decisions. He's too good for those types of blunders. Sometimes, kicking a field goal really is a positive.
As Romo likes to say, this game is not without human error. Clearly, but interceptions in seven consecutive games dating back to last season represent a trend.
Continue that troubling trend, and sooner or later disaster will occur.
If not for T.O.'s petulant behavior this week, we'd be focusing on Romo's performance and his key third-quarter interception.
The problem with Romo is that the same thing that makes you laugh also makes you cry. You can't stifle his creative nature or his ability to make mind-blowing plays out of chaos, because that's what makes him a special player.
You have to accept that for every wild and crazy play like the one against St. Louis last season, when he ran 33 yards to grab a shotgun snap that sailed over his head before running for a first down, there might be a play like his fumble in the end zone against Philadelphia two weeks ago, when he tried to make something out of nothing and gave the Eagles a touchdown.
We won't know for another three weeks just how much Romo is progressing because Cincinnati, St. Louis and Arizona have bad defenses.
Then comes Tampa Bay with its two-deep zone, which forces quarterbacks to be patient, followed by the Giants' nasty defense.
Obviously, Romo's been productive, but the standard has changed. He must change with it.