Monday, October 3, 2011
Jason Garrett trusts Tony Romo
By Calvin Watkins
IRVING, Texas -- The day after another late game debacle from Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, coach Jason Garrett said he still trusts him in late game situations, yet has thought about reining him in.
Romo committed three second-half turnovers costing his team 21 points in a dramatic 34-30 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The Cowboys held a 27-3 lead in the second half before two Romo interceptions were returned for touchdowns.
His last interception, on a pass to tight end Jason Witten, set up the go-ahead score with 1:44 remaining in the game.
"I don't think it's difficult to trust him," Garrett said Monday of Romo. "We've had a lot of success in these situations in our four and a half years with Tony as our quarterback. Now have they been 100 percent perfect? No. But you try to create the environment and you try and do the things as a coach to help him be as good as he can be in those situations.
"But again, it's a team thing. It's everybody together, Tony is a big part of it because he's our quarterback, but it's the other guys on offense, the other guys on defense and throughout our team."
For the day, Romo completed 34-of-47 passes for 331 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. But it was Romo's play at the end of the game that cost his team a possibility of going 3-1 instead of the Cowboys being 2-2 heading into a bye week.
These late game problems are nothing new for Romo.
In the Week 1 loss to the New York Jets, Romo fumbled at his opponents' 2, preventing his team from adding to a seven-point lead. He then threw a costly interception late in the fourth quarter that allowed the Jets to kick the go-ahead field goal with less than a minute to play.
Romo, however, has been good in late-game situations this season, in leading his team on a pair of game-winning scoring drives.
In his career, Romo has 11 fourth-quarter comebacks and 12 game-winning drives.
At times you have to wonder, which Romo the Cowboys will get?
"I think you're always trying to improve," Garrett said. "You're always trying to learn from these situations that you're in. I think he's ended game situations, in relation to the football, are things he has to get better at. He knows that and he'll be the first one to say that. So we have to find a way for him to get better at that."
When Romo became the starting quarterback in 2006, he had a gunslinger mentality, much like Brett Favre, who he grew up admiring. Over the years, Cowboys' offensive coaches contained Romo's gunslinger mentality some, but there are times where it creeps out and leads to bad things.
Garrett said he's thought about reigning in Romo at times.
"The best quarterbacks I've ever been around have an aggressive mentality," Garrett said. "If you look at the best quarterbacks in the league right now they have an aggressive mentality. You have to in order to play well. But certainly you have to overlay the situation of the game into your aggressiveness. It's a position of risk and reward every time you have the ball in your hand and you got to make sure you understand your play versus their defense but also you have to understand the game situation."
In 65 career starts, Romo is 41-24 but has lost seven of his last 10 starts dating back to 2010. He missed the last 10 games of the 2010 season with a broken collarbone. When asked about Romo's recent mark, Garrett said Romo is a good quarterback and believes in him, much like his teammates.
Still, it's hard to ignore the recent history of Romo and what's coming up when the Cowboys finish the bye week.
Dallas visits a New England Patriots team that hasn't lost at home since 2008, in two weeks.
"It doesn't feel good," Romo said Sunday of how he'll feel during the bye.
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.