- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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With that we have our final Beat Writers Report.
• Back surgery ended Tony Romo's season after 15 games and you can criticize him if you want. But Romo had a wonderful season, where he finished ninth in completion percentage, fifth in touchdowns and eighth in quarterback rating. He went toe-to-toe with Peyton Manning and should have won, but his interception at the end led to the loss. He threw four touchdowns in both wins against the New York Giants and in his 100th career start at Philadelphia threw for 317 yards, and despite two picks, earned the victory. In wild affair in Detroit the next week, where Dez Bryant was basically ignored, Romo had a quarterback rating of 102.9 and threw three touchdowns. It's easy to complain about the interceptions and the late season swoons, but the reality is Romo is a franchise quarterback without the rings. In the regular season finale, some of those Kyle Orton throws that sailed behind some receivers, including the one to Miles Austin at the end, might have been on target if No. 9 is playing. So while some fans want the Cowboys to draft a quarterback and begin the countdown on Romo's career, cherish what you have.
• According to Pro Football Focus the Cowboys had 32 drops and the biggest offenders were two of the biggest playmakers in the passing game. Bryant had 11 drops tied for fifth in the league and Jason Witten had six drops, fourth in the NFL among tight ends. Drops happen in the passing game. It's not liked but accepted in some fashion because it comes with the territory given the amount of throws attempted. However, 17 drops from Witten and Bryant is unacceptable considering their impact to the offense.
• This year fans want to rid themselves of defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Last year it was right tackle Doug Free. Free compromised with a pay cut and he improved his play. With his season finished, Free handled this well at his position. The Cowboys ran 51 plays off right tackle this season and averaged 4.78 yards per attempt, which finished 10th in the league in average. It was a hard offseason for Free, who took the pay cut, withstood a challenge from Jermey Parnell in training camp for his gig and had people question whether he should remain in the starting lineup. While it was easy to say Tyron Smith was the Cowboys' best offensive linemen, Free, in my opinion, was the second-best.
• It's real easy to discuss what the Cowboys have done in the early rounds of previous NFL drafts. The middle rounds, three to five, is where the real action begins. The Cowboys drafted four players in those rounds in 2012 and third rounders wide receiver Terrance Williams (74 overall) and safety J.J. Wilcox (80th overall) started games and have bright futures. Fourth round pick, cornerback B.W. Webb (114th overall), looked overmatched. Running back Joseph Randle (fifth round, 151st overall) had a minimal impact this season. In the previous two seasons, only running back DeMarco Murray (third-round pick in 2011) has been a good selection from the middle rounds. The Cowboys, with needs for the defense, must get impact players for 2014 and 2015 if they're going to avoid further 8-8 finishes.
• Notes: The Cowboys were one of 11 teams to score at least 400 points this season. The Cowboys scored 439 points, fifth-most in the league. Of the 11 teams, nine reached the postseason. … Romo was one of five quarterbacks with 30-plus touchdowns this season at 31. Romo joined Peyton Manning (55), Drew Brees (39), Andy Dalton (33) and Philip Rivers (32). … An NFL-record 863 field goals were made where kickers converted 86.5 percent of their kicks. Dan Bailey made 93.3 percent of his kicks, fourth best in the league, including his last 20 field goals. … There were 65 interception returns for touchdowns in 2013, second-most in league history. Two Cowboys were part of those totals in Brandon Carr and Sean Lee. Lee by the way, led the league with 174 interception-return yards.
Well, the Dallas Cowboys season has ended, thanks to a 24-22 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night at AT&T Stadium.With that we have our final Beat Writers Report.