For Romo, What Will Be the Last Straw?
Another Monday blog post about Tony Romo, along with more reminders of bad times in this franchise’s history.
Don Meredith helped to lead the Cowboys to prominence, including back-to-back appearances in the NFL Championship Game. In 1968, he helped to lead the Cowboys to a 12-2 mark.
But against Cleveland in the playoffs, the Cowboys’ hunt for an NFL title ended. The game was tied 10-10 at the half, but Meredith couldn’t avoid mistakes. He misfired on a sideline pass to Bob Hayes, and Cleveland linebacker Dale Lindsey picked off the pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown.
On the next possession, Meredith tried to hit Lance Rentzel, but the ball bounced off the receiver’s hands and into the hands of Ben Davis. Leroy Kelly scored on a 35-yard run, and Dallas trailed 24-10. Meredith’s stats: 3 of 9, 42 yards, 0 TD, 3 Int.
Meredith’s career effectively ended right there. He did not play for the rest of the game against the Browns, and though he played in the first half of the infamous Playoff Bowl one week later, he retired after the season.
Danny White famously led the Cowboys to three consecutive NFC Championship Games (but infamously lost all three of them). He was the starter in 1985 when the Cowboys made the playoffs for the last time under Tom Landry.
But he broke his wrist in 1986, and his comeback in 1987 was not impressive. Dallas had a 5-5 record when the team hosted Minnesota on Thanksgiving Day with an outside chance of making the playoffs. In a wild game, Dallas twice overcame deficits of 14 points to send the game into overtime. The Cowboys had a shot to get into field-goal range in the extra period, but White’s final pass of the game was a wounded duck that found its way to Minnesota LB Scott Studwell. The Vikings scored on the next drive after the interception.
White never won another game as a starter, losing his last start against Washington later in the season. He served as a backup in 1988 but never played again after suffering a knee injury against Chicago.
Drew Bledsoe only played two seasons in Dallas, but he had previously led the Patriots to the Super Bowl and was supposed to be a solid quarterback when he came to Dallas. But in less than two full seasons, Bledsoe was no better than mediocre and had a 12-10 record as the Dallas starter. He had some feel-good moments, including a solid performance in a 34-6 win over in-state rival Houston during week 6 of the 2006 season.
But in week 7 in 2006, the Cowboys fell behind to the New York Giants. The Cowboys scored to New York lead to 12-7, and when Dallas recovered a fumble in Giant territory, the Cowboys had a chance to take a lead going into halftime. Near the goal line, Bledsoe tried to force the ball to Terry Glenn, but Sam Madison stepped in front of it to make the interception, ending the Dallas drive.
Bledsoe never threw another pass as a pro. His mistakes had cost the team games before, and the pass to Glenn was the last straw. Dallas coach Bill Parcells pulled Bledsoe and put in backup Tony Romo.
We were supposed to think that the legend was born at that point, but legendary isn’t the term that will describe Romo’s career.
Romo was 19-7 during his first year and a half as the starter. Since that time, he is only 22-17. He’s had some big wins in September and other big wins in November. And he was good during a late run in 2009, leading the team to its only playoff win in 15 years.
Otherwise, his blunders are becoming worse than the worst anyone ever saw by the likes of Meredith, White, or Bledsoe (or, for that matter, Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, or Clint Stoerner). Romo has had to take the blame for more and more losses in the past three seasons, and it’s getting hard to believe Team Jerry won’t decide that enough is enough.
The loss to the Lions wasn’t just about Romo trying to make a play in a tight game. He was reckless at a time where any quarterback at any level would have known he just needed to play it safe. He’s 31 years old and has started 65 professional football games. He has very clearly not learned anything from his past mistakes, and we should have absolutely no confidence that he’ll learn anything from the most recent catastrophe.
Of course, Jerry says no change will take place, and Jason Garrett and the rest of the team have pledged their support. Perhaps the rest of us can pledge to accept mediocrity.