Scale back and step up

Tony Romo has too much juice for a quarterback with one playoff win in 108 career starts.

The quarterback demanded additional power to help create the offensive game plan last season, while he negotiated a long-term contract extension with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The owner, as he almost always does, acquiesced, essentially making Romo the second-most powerful man in the organization.

Well, there's a reason why the adage "players play and coaches coach" exists. If you talk to enough folks at Valley Ranch, they'll tell you Romo changed a few too many running plays to passes.

With the addition of Scott Linehan to the coaching staff as passing coordinator, Bill Callahan handling the running game and Jason Garrett trying to make sure his thoughts on how to attack the defense each week get included, the Cowboys don't need Romo's presence in the game-planning room.

He should give up that authority.


Yes, it would be different if Romo had a resume that compared to Denver's Peyton Manning, New England's Tom Brady, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers or New Orleans' Drew Brees. But he does not.

Perhaps one day we'll promote him to that class. Not now.

These days, Romo has more than enough on his plate. Let the guys Jerry is spending millions to help this offense maximize its talent do what they do best. Sometimes, a streamlined operation is the best approach.

More is not always better.

Linehan, Garrett and Callahan each have considerable experience as offensive coordinators. They know how to break down and attack defenses. They don't need Romo's help to do that.

Heck, Garrett and Romo have been together for seven seasons. If Garrett doesn't know 99 percent of what Romo wants in the game plan, then he'll never know. If Garrett doesn't know Romo's favorite route combinations against various defenses, then he'll never know.

Once the game plan is done, they can e-mail it to Romo and let him make suggestions, like any quarterback. They can add what they like and disregard the other stuff.

How about this? Let Romo focus on being the best possible player he can be each week. Let him focus on being an even better leader. Let him focus on developing even better relationships with all of his teammates.

He will be 34 when next season starts, but Romo can still get better. He must if this team is ever going to end a season without a bunch of woulda-coulda-shouldas. It starts with Romo.

Most of the critical mistakes he makes have to do with decision-making. As his athleticism fades -- the result of his age, as well as back issues that required two surgeries in the past year -- Romo's decisions must improve.

If he can't escape the pocket and create big plays from chaos, then he must compensate by making better decisions under duress.

Regardless of what Romo Haters believe, the NFL's most polarizing player is an upper-echelon quarterback in a league in which a bunch of teams have scrubs at the most-challenging position in sports.

His numbers were fine last year -- aren't they always? -- with 3,828 yards passing. He had 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but passed for 210 yards or less in five games. Too many times it was all or nothing.

While he led terrific comeback victories over Minnesota and Washington, the reality is Romo's season was marred by two critical interceptions in losses to Denver and Green Bay.

Who you blame depends on whether you're a Romo Hater or Romo Apologist.

The Denver interception occurred in a 51-49 loss to the Broncos that Jerry called a moral victory, and the pick against Green Bay helped the Packers rally from a 26-3 halftime deficit at AT&T Stadium to a 37-36 victory.

We know the interception against Green Bay occurred because Romo changed the play from a run to a pass, which he was supposed to do, given the defense the Packers were playing. Of course, Callahan and Garrett should've never given him that option.

Common sense -- even before we took advantage of hindsight -- suggests Romo shouldn't have changed the play. But maybe Romo wouldn't have taken the passing option if he didn't feel so entitled in the offense.

But that's what can happen when an owner gives the quarterback the juice to do whatever he wants. Don't be fooled by the stats; the offense was consistently inconsistent last season.

Romo must spend all of his time, focus and energy on being the best quarterback he can be for the Cowboys, which shouldn't include creating the game plan.