Romo dangerous when blitzed
September, 16, 2010
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
LAKE FOREST, Ill -- The Chicago Bears know firsthand the dangers of facing Tony Romo.
The Dallas Cowboys quarterback torched the Bears' defense back in Week 3 in 2007, passing for 329 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"We had a lot of opportunities to get him down," Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said of that game. "Just looking over that first half, there might have been four or five missed sacks. You add those in to our defensive effort, and it's a different game. We put ourselves in better field position, maybe we give the offense the ball with better field position to score or we get more field goals. That's why he's so dangerous."
Romo's ability to avoid the rush is his trademark.
Since 2008, Romo has completed 59.3 percent of his passes while posting a quarterback rating of 91.6 when teams send five or more rushers his way, according to ESPN Stats and Information. This poses an interesting dilemma for the Bears because they generally shy away from sending that much pressure -- they rushed five defenders on only 30 percent of Detroit's pass plays last Sunday at Soldier Field.
But if Romo is left to simply sit in the pocket, he can chose from a variety of weapons, including Jason Witten, Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Dez Bryant or one of the three talented Dallas running backs.
If the Bears decide to blitz, they better be successful, because when a quarterback can keep a play alive, it usually makes life difficult for defensive backs, who are then forced to cover their receivers for an extended period of time.
"I'm confident in our front four," Bears cornerback Charles Tillman said. "It's a level rush. As far as covering guys a little longer, I think Julius Peppers and those guys will get after Romo pretty well. I think they'll make my job a lot easier."
Romo's favorite target the past two seasons when blitzed is clearly Austin. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Romo has completed 70.9 percent of passes intended for Austin when teams send five or more defenders at the quarterback. On those plays in questions, Austin has averaged 13.2 yards per reception and scored four touchdowns.