Any questions about Tony Romo’s readiness for the 2015 season should have gone away at the 9:07 mark of the second quarter against the Vikings on Saturday.
Romo delivered a vintage play, spinning away from a collapsing pocket and buying enough time to find rookie Lucky Whitehead running free in the end zone.
That marked Romo’s second touchdown pass of the night and likely his final of the preseason. He is not expected to play again until the season opener on Sept. 13 against the New York Giants.
But everybody, from owner Jerry Jones to the coaching staff to the receivers to Romo himself, seems to be OK with that and believe that Romo is in line to have another MVP-caliber season.
Especially if he continues to produce more of those trademark plays.
“He has the ability to feel pressure in the pocket, spin around and still have his wits about him,” quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson said. “A lot of time if you pirouette out like that, you lose vision of the defense and where your guys are, but he’s done it his whole career.
“He looked sharp. He really sat in there, made some nice plays.”
The same couldn’t be said a year ago even though Romo played more in the preseason. Most were skeptical of what Romo could do with a surgically repaired back that limited him during training camp, and it showed in the season opener when he threw three interceptions.
The rust eventually wore off for Romo, who went on to have the best season in his career. There shouldn’t be any rust going into this season.
The 35-year-old Romo took part in the entire off-season program, and only took a few days off during training camp.
“The fact that he’s been able to practice and get some game time … the speed of the game is definitely different than the practice time,” Wilson said. “So the fact that he’s playing in some preseason games and getting some game-speed action prior to the opener is going to be a big benefit for him.”
For his part, Romo didn’t want to compare last year to this year, but acknowledged again that he feels better physically and understands how to manage his back better.
“I have talked about that plenty of times about how obviously I am able to drive the ball and push and explode when I’m trying to move,” Romo said. “That’s a great sign, compared to last year.”
I have talked about that plenty of times about how obviously I am able to drive the ball and push and explode when I’m trying to move. That’s a great sign, compared to last year.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo
Yes, it is and Romo showed it Saturday at AT&T Stadium even with top receiver Dez Bryant (hamstring) out.
The offense got off to a sluggish start with penalties and an ineffective running game in the first quarter, gaining their lone first down on a Vikings defensive holding penalty.
But things changed in a hurry in the second quarter. On the first play that quarter, Romo connected on a crossing route with Terrance Williams, who darted to the end zone for a 60-yard score.
“He’s continuing to get better, way better than he was before,” Williams said of Romo. “I just think the more we find ways to get open for him, the ball will be there.”
It happened two drives later when Romo capitalized on a short field set up by a 40-yard punt return by Cole Beasley. That’s when he improvised on a first-and-goal from the 8, and found Whitehead for his second TD of the night.
He moved well in the pocket, got his check downs, and made big plays. So I think he’s ready. When we get the rest of our weapons out there with Dez … I think the offense is getting real close to where it needs to be.
Cowboys quarterback coach Wade Wilson
Romo finished the game by going 5 of 8 passing for 88 yards with a 139.6 passer rating. All signs point to him being ready for the regular season.
“He moved well in the pocket, got his check downs, and made big plays,” Wilson said. “So I think he’s ready.
“When we get the rest of our weapons out there with Dez … I think the offense is getting real close to where it needs to be.”
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760