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Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The result when Tony Romo passes

By Calvin Watkins

Tony Romo dropped back to pass 596 times last season, fourth most in in the NFL.

What does this mean?

Well, for one, Romo and the Cowboys' offense had success when he passed. Romo threw 26 touchdowns passes last year and a career-low nine interceptions. He was also sacked 34 times. The Cowboys passing offense finished sixth in the league with a 8.2 yards-per-attempt average.

The emergence of Miles Austin and Romo's maturity in the passing game helped in that average more than anything else.

Romo's play also dictated something else. With four other quarterbacks who had a large number of dropbacks, only Romo and Aaron Rodgers of the Packers reached the postseason.

Matt Schaub of Houston, who tops the list, and David Garrard of Jacksonville, who is fifth, both missed the postseason. Jay Cutler, who is third, missed the postseason with the Bears.

Romo was part of an NFC East division title and earned the Cowboys' first postseason win in over a decade.

And sometimes dropping back to pass a whole lot doesn't lead to positive results. Cutler led the NFL with 27 interceptions.

Drew Brees of the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, had 539 dropbacks but led the NFL with 34 touchdown passes. Sometimes you don't need plenty of dropbacks; it's what you do with the ball when you get it that counts.

Romo is producing results when he passes the ball.

The low turnover numbers indicate he's protecting the ball when he throws and when under pressure. He has cut back on his gunslinger plays of 2006 and 2007. He seems to be more careful with the ball, thanks to the mentorship of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, who have helped him see the importance of the safe pass underneath to Jason Witten or to a running back, or of just throwing the ball away.