The moment the Dallas Cowboys, their offensive line and DeMarco Murray end their up & down tendencies from the last couple of seasons, there will no longer be a question surrounding Tony Romo and his ability to lead his team into and during the playoffs.
As always, the Cowboys open the season with a win, a loss and then another win. It’s worth mentioning that the last five times they’ve started the season 2-1, they failed to improve to 3-1.
Murry, into his third season with the team, burst onto the scene during his rookie year with a 253 yard rushing game against the same St. Louis Rams, who he torched this weekend with 175 yards on 26 carries, including a touchdown. But Murray is more than just a back that plays well against the Rams and no one else. Injuries, and an unreliable offensive line have been holding him back.
This season, after three weeks, he has 286 yards (fourth in the NFL), also doing a very good job as a receiver as the new offensive scheme, with Bill Callhan engineering from behind the scenes, has been working well for all involved. Murray has already caught 16 passes for 116 yards, which is on pace for his best season as a receiving option since entering the league.
Whenever you’re able to run the ball and pass it the way we did, you’ve got to give Callahan credit. He called a great game for us. Tony Romo put us in great positions to be successful as an offense. As I said, the offensive line played well all day. We have some good players on our offensive line. They played well. You’ve got to give them credit. We were able to let some of our players go one-on-one with Dez Bryant outside, Miles Austin and Jason Witten, whenever the offensive line is giving everyone that much time and opening up holes like that, we’re a good offense.
Murray rebounded well from the criticism and the performance in week 2 against the Chiefs, in which he ran for only 25 yards on 12 carries. As always, that was much more than just his fault. The Cowboys suffered from some terrible play calling in that game after the first quarter, and the offensive line didn’t handle the pass-rush half as well as it did against the Rams, again and again creating holes for Murray to punch through.
You can see it in Romo’s performance as well. He was sacked twice against the Giants and only once against the Rams. He threw an interception in the wild win over New York, but none against the Chiefs despite the pressure (sacked four times), and none against the Rams with a very efficient 17-of-24, 3 touchdown game.
When Romo has time, he might be just behind Rodgers, Brady, Brees and Manning in his ability to make big plays. With a running game that’s never been the strong side for the Cowboys, especially when it comes to consistency, it’ll be much easier for Romo to avoid the mistakes that he’s recognized for, as the answer to whether or not he’s worthy of being a franchise quarterback on a playoff team might be finally answered if the Cowboys find some consistency in their ground game, through their improved offensive line.