Tony Romo making good decisions

IRVING, Texas -- Every now and then, if you listen closely, Jason Garrett will provide us with some honest insight into a player instead of his usual assortment of pre-packaged quotes.

Take, for instance, what Garrett said about Tony Romo after the quarterback delivered yet another quality performance in the Dallas Cowboys' overtime win over the Washington Redskins.

"He made some little plays where he didn't force things," Garrett said. "Where he didn't have anything, he took a sack. He didn't do anything stupid with the football and lastly made a number of big plays."


Did Garrett just link Romo and stupid in the same sentence? Uh huh.

See, that's undeniable proof that Romo occasionally drives the head coach as crazy as the rest of us with some of his shenanigans on the field.

Normally, Garrett uses coachspeak when discussing Romo's performance. He'll talk about Romo needing to make better decisions or use better judgment in a scenario. Or he'll say there were some throws or plays Romo would like to have back.

Never, does the coach say "stupid."

But after a heart-thumping, gritty, emotional win that nearly turned disastrous when Romo tried to call a timeout the Cowboys didn't have -- even Garrett, who prides himself in maintaining control, let his guard down for an instant.

Just so you know, the way the quarterback is playing these days, Garrett will have to spend hours perusing the tape to find any mistakes to grouse about.

Actually, Romo's performance the last month has more to do with what he's not doing as opposed to what he is doing.

Let's keep this simple: Romo has stopped making the dumb decisions and indiscriminate throws that directly led to losses against the New York Jets and the Detroit Lions.

Understand, this doesn't happen by accident.

With Romo, it takes a conscious effort for him to eliminate the bad plays that earned him a reputation as a quarterback who can't be trusted.

He sees the game so clearly and his brain processes information so rapidly that he must make a conscious effort to slow down.

The dumb plays occur when he plays too fast; when he slows down, he's among the league's best.

No doubt. No debate. No equivocation.

You can say whatever you want about Romo, but he's an elusive quarterback in the pocket who's a master at creating big plays out of chaos. With his arm strength and accuracy, Romo can make every throw from the deep out to the back-shoulder fade to the skinny post.

But the well-documented litany of mistakes he's made has lingered in our memories considerably longer than his accomplishments, which probably isn't going to change until he wins a Lombardi Trophy.

Whether that's fair is irrelevant. It's reality for Romo and every other NFL starter who yearns to be more than just a guy.

Right now, only Aaron Rodgers is playing unquestionably better than Romo.

For just the fourth time in his career, Romo has had a stretch of three consecutive games or more with a passer rating of more than 100.0. He had a four-game stretch in 2009 and a seven-game stretch in 2007.

Each of those seasons ended with a playoff berth. So will this season, if he maintains this level of play.

Romo has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last three starts. He's gone 126 passes since his last interception -- and that one bounced off Martellus Bennett's hands.

A little more research reveals Romo has thrown just one interception in his last 188 passes.

It's because he's stopped trying to do too much.


He'll take a sack even if it means punting instead of throwing off his back foot into coverage. He's content to throw the ball in the flat to DeMarco Murray instead of forcing the ball into coverage.

Murray has caught 16 of the 20 passes directed toward him in the last three games.

Sometimes, you see, the game isn't that hard.

In the last three games, Romo has been money on third down, completing 21 of 31 passes for 351 yards and five touchdowns with a passer rating of 137.9.

The Green Bay Packers are easily the NFC's best team. Legitimate questions surround every other alleged contender, including your beloved Cowboys.

For now, Romo makes the Cowboys among the best of a flawed lot. Perhaps, that will inspire Garrett to provide even more insight into Romo.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is a columnist for ESPNDallas.com.