Tony Romo: The old man and the (NF)C

February, 6, 2013
2/06/13
10:10
AM ET
Jean-Jacques Taylor has run the numbers and figured out that the Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo will be the second-oldest starting quarterback in the NFC next season, behind only Drew Brees. Yipes.

Now, as we have discussed here many times, 33 is not end-of-the-line old for quarterbacks in the NFL in the year 2013. But it's closer to the end than it is to the beginning, and Jacques' point here is that the infusion of talented and successful young quarterbacks in the NFC is making Romo's path to the Super Bowl even more difficult than it already was. His other point is that Romo needs help:
For Romo to lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl, Jerry must build a team around Romo the way the Denver Broncos built around John Elway.

When the Broncos won consecutive Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998, they were built around running back Terrell Davis, tight end Shannon Sharpe and receiver Rod Smith. Those guys did the heavy lifting.

A few times each game, the Broncos asked Elway to deliver one of his magical plays -- and he did. Early in his career, the Broncos asked Elway to do all of the heavy lifting and he was still dynamic enough to get Denver to three Super Bowls, which is why he's in the Hall of Fame.

No one is comparing Romo to Elway in terms of talent -- only in terms of what their teams ask each player to do.

Funny, that last part, because sometimes the criticism of Romo does remind me of what people used to say about Elway. In the final two years of his career, Elway went from "good, talented quarterback who couldn't win the big one" to "maybe the best quarterback ever to play the game." He did it by winning two Super Bowls at the helm of a team that could win with its running game.

Jacques is right that Romo needs help. The Cowboys' offensive line has been awful the past two seasons and the run game has been injury-plagued and unreliable. There is no question that Romo and his three interceptions were to blame for this year's season-ending loss in Washington, but he didn't lose all eight of the Cowboys' games single-handedly. There are deeper problems on this Cowboys team than Romo. If he finishes his career there without an Elway-type Super Bowl flourish, he'll go down in history as a Cowboys disappointment. Which is the way it goes with quarterbacks, even when it's not completely fair.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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