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Cowboys are all in with Romo, Garrett

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Recent posts by Eric Edholm

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Posted Oct. 06, 2011 @ 4:04 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Taking the temperature around Dallas following the Week Four loss to the Lions, a 24-point meltdown, would indicate some doom and gloom if fans and media are the barometers. But the Cowboys have been in position to win all four of their games and have outplayed the Jets in New York and the 4-0 Lions in their two losses.

QB Tony Romo has been the biggest reason for all of it — the wins, the losses, the close finishes. He has played some exceptional football at times this season, but he also has failed in some critical junctures.

But merely blaming the quarterback is way too easy to do and not entirely accurate. For one, the offensive line has been all over the place with 10 penalties, so-so run blocking and off-and-on pressure allowed. Two, head coach Jason Garrett shares in the blame, especially with his play-calling in the second half of the Lions loss in which he asked Romo to make low-percentage passes when they were unnecessary.

If we break down Romo's performance into splits, some interesting numbers emerge. For instance, he has been near-flawless in first half so far, completing 68.1 percent of his passes with four TDs and no interceptions. However, in the third and fourth quarters, Romo has completed 62 percent of his passes with three TDs and five picks.

And though Romo is regarded as having a rubber arm, able to throw 40-plus attempts in a game if needed, another interesting trend is worth noting: In attempts 31 through 40 of games this season, he has completed only 14-of-25 passes (56 percent) for 230 yards with zero TDs and three interceptions.

It's not a large sample size, but it demonstrates a point: The more Romo throws, the more bad things can happen. Garrett tried to let Romo work out his problems on the field in the second half of the Lions game, and it didn't work. Romo's streakiness is just something that has to be managed for the rest of the season.

In the two victories, Romo has started out slowly and gotten better as the game progressed; in the two losses, he started out hot only to take major steps backward later in the game. It is up to Garrett to adjust his game plans accordingly based on the way Romo is throwing every week.

It's a tricky task, but if it's handled correctly it could be the difference in making sure a very good team doesn't miss the playoffs again.

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