Will Romo Fail Trying To Channel His Inner Peyton Manning?
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wants Tony Romo to put in “Peyton Manning-type” time into his role as the team’s starting quarterback. Jones envisions Romo putting in 11-hour days between game days and having more input into the offensive game planning.
On the face of it, the idea is a good one. The question is this: why wasn’t this something Romo has been doing all along?
Romo has been the starter for six-plus seasons in Dallas, and is likely on the last four or five seasons of his career. Asking Romo to decrease his off-field distractions — no more trying to qualify for the U.S. Open for example — and dial up his attention to detail can only be helpful to Romo’s game.
But clearly Jones is looking for Romo to somehow transform himself into a Manning or a Tom Brady, and that may be asking for too much.
Manning and Brady have dominated the NFL with their level of attention to the minutest of detail, and both men are literally offensive coordinators on the field during the games thanks to their game-week preparations. Even during the offseason, both Manning and Brady are putting in work — from studying game film to putting in time throwing to newly acquired receivers — to get ready for the approaching season.
No sooner had Denver acquired Wes Welker, he and Manning got together at Duke with a couple of other Broncos receivers to start working together — and this was well before the 2013 NFL Draft. Brady has also been holding sessions with his receivers, and held a throwing session with Terrell Owens in Los Angeles. Even Miami’s Ryan Tannehill starting early workouts with his receivers.
But aside from Jones’ proclamation that Romo would play a bigger role in the offense, there have been no reports of Romo working out with his receivers, even the recently drafted Terrance Williams. If Romo really wants to channel his inner Manning or Brady, these are the things he needs to be doing.
And that leads to the penultimate question in the transformation of Tony Romo: can he pull it off?
Manning and Brady have brought this level of attention to their game as far back as their high school days, and probably even earlier for Manning, as he is the son of an NFL quarterback that grew up seeing firsthand what was needed to succeed in the pro game.
Romo has been too much like the quarterback he grew up idolizing: Brett Favre. And like his idol, he has relied too often on a helter-skelter, force-the-issue and hope for a good result style of play. Far too often that approach has led to disaster for Romo, but it has been the way he plays the game.
His challenge will be to stay the course over the long-term and fight the inclination to revert to old habits. Romo will likely not be able to attain the level of precision that Manning and Brady seem to produce week in and week out. But even if his increased involvement in offensive game planning from Monday through Saturday leads to nothing more than a few less turnovers, that could be just good enough to get the Cowboys back into the playoffs.
Unless Romo leads Dallas to three straight Super Bowl victories, he will never be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer like Manning or Brady. But the Cowboys would be quite happy if a more involved Romo just gets them into three straight playoff appearances. They’ve taken one step forward with holding Romo more accountable in the game planning. All that remains to be seen is whether Romo can continue forward, or if he will eventually take two giant steps backward instead?