Coach Jason Garrett played the position for 12 years in the NFL with four teams. Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson played in the NFL for 19 years for five different teams. Passing game coordinator Scott Linehan played the position at Idaho, taking the school to the Div. I-AA playoffs three times. He signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 1987, but a shoulder injury ended his professional playing career before it could really begin.
Wilson caused a bit of an uproar when he said Romo was “tentative” with his deep passes after seven training-camp practices, but Romo dispelled the worry on Saturday with several well-thrown long balls.
“He just looked like himself more to me, the expressions on his face," Garrett said. “He didn’t look quite like he was working through something."
Romo has been under constant evaluation since training camp began. His practice schedule was something of a surprise early because the assumption was he would work every day. When he sat out the second practice, questions about his recovery were raised.
He did not play in the preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers, taking four days off to rest instead, and he came back with his best practice. The Cowboys are off today and will practice on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Oakland Raiders before setting their sights on the Baltimore Ravens, Saturday’s opponent in the second preseason game.
Throughout camp, the Cowboys have relied on Romo to tell them the truth about how he is feeling. The coaches have also used their experience playing the position.
“The thing that we have to monitor is making sure he is not compensating some way technically and kind of developing these habits that ultimately will compromise him,” Garrett said. “So it’s better to back him off from that and make sure he is doing it as right as possible and kind of go down that road of him building in all the things he can do with his technique [instead of] kind of hiding this thing he is coming back from, and you develop bad habits.”
Romo’s throwing motion is similar to a golf swing. He throws from the ground up, with his lower half starting the motion and his arm catching up to create a quick release. In warm-ups, Romo will almost exaggerate the hip turn to force his arm to whip through to create enough speed.
“That’s why he can drive the ball with such a quick stroke,” Garrett said. “That’s a big part of his mechanics and one of the things that really helps him be the quarterback that he is. We have to be mindful that he’s continuing to do that, because that’s right in the wheelhouse of the injury that he has -- this rotational thing.”
Early in camp Garrett said Romo was rolling off his throws to the left instead of standing firm and twisting across to make the driving throws. It was something Romo might not have known he was doing; perhaps it was just the way the body was protecting itself.
“It’s not cheating,” Garrett said. “It’s just when you throw left, sometimes you can roll off of it instead of kind of standing in there and throwing. It’s all rotational. But you got to kind of stand in there sometimes you can do that [roll off it] to protect yourself. That’s the nature of throwing left for everybody in the league. I mean, it’s an easy thing to do. So make sure you stand in there little bit more and drive the ball that way.”
The day after wondering if Romo was compensating for his back to his left, the quarterback made a long completion to LaRon Byrd in situational work that led to a game-tying field goal.
“He climbed the pocket in there and just drove the hell out of it, which is what he needs to do,” Garrett said.
On Saturday, Romo had to scoop up a low snap, slide in the pocket, set his feet and make a powerful throw.
“He’s a very intuitive athlete,” Garrett said. “He has great instincts and feel for what’s going on, but also for his technique.”
The coaches would know.