Mac Engel

Tony Romo is at his best when he doesn’t wear the cape

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was 304-of-425 passing last season for a career-best 69.9 completion percentage.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was 304-of-425 passing last season for a career-best 69.9 completion percentage. Star-Telegram

The salesman in Jerry Jones — which is all of Jerry Jones — thinks it’s good that we continue to point out that his starting quarterback has never won a Super Bowl. Or reached an NFC title game.

Just because Tony Romo won a playoff game last year, and played well in the postseason for the first time in his career, his boss is not a fan of putting to rest the idea that Romo has answered the “Playoff Question.”

“I am skeptical to put it to rest,” Jones said on his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan with Shan & RJ. “I am not so sure I want to put it to rest. It’s the discussion. It’s the debate. Let’s don’t put it to rest. Let’s keep discussing it; let him go out there and let him do something bigger than he’s done.”

Remind someone he is inadequate? Consider it done.

All Romo has to do is get back to the playoffs — with his bad back, and a running game that is all but set up not to be as good as it was last season.

The Cowboys proved last season they are a better team when they are not riding entirely on their quarterback’s bad back — and, in turn, Romo had the best year of his life.

The only way this team thrives is with Tony Romo, and the only way he thrives is if he does not have to do it all himself.

They cannot ask him to do more than last year, or they will not meet any of their realistic expectations.

Their realistic expectations include double-digit wins, an NFC East title, an NFC title game appearance and Romo in the discussion as a league MVP. At least for the first month, and maybe more, it’s all on Tony Romo, which stinks.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday it’s not a big deal who is the starter at running back, which roughly translates to they think Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden are a wash. That’s not good.

If health is not an issue, McFadden is the best running back on this team and it’s not even close. He can do everything that DeMarco Murray did last season, if not better. McFadden is good enough to eat the “meat on the bone” that Murray left on last year.

But health is an issue; the guy is talented, but he breaks down. Maybe playing for a good team behind a great offensive line and on a one-year contract will improve his health.

This team wanted Randle to win this starting job outright, which he didn’t because we are going to soon learn he isn’t big enough to take the pounding that a starting NFL running back endures.

That or they simply don’t trust him.

The Cowboys’ offensive line is great, and it should be even better than it was a year ago, but it’s as Emmitt Smith said: It’s disrespectful to all running backs how the Cowboys have handled this position. They really do believe as former Cowboys offensive tackle and Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright said, “Any running back can run the ball behind [that offensive line].”

When the Cowboys face the New York Giants on Sunday night, we will find out if any running back can do just that.

If this running game is hundreds of yards shy of Murray’s production last season, this is on Romo in a dangerous way.

The defense is already going to be without corner Orlando Scandrick for the season because of a torn ACL, and the best two front-seven players — Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain — will be out for the first four games to serve NFL-mandated suspensions.

Add it up, and Romo is going to simply have to do more. He can, but as witnessed last season, he is better when he doesn’t have to.

I asked him if last year was the best he ever played.

“I’m just a much different player than I was before, so when you look at it, your goal is to be a better player than you were the year before. I think that has taken shape,” he said. “It’s probably one of the things that I’m most proud of, that I always kept improving and I like to think that I’ve continued to do that. Hopefully, this season will be no different.”

Hopefully, he’s right.

It would just be a lot better if he didn’t have to do anything more than he did last season … then, per Jerry’s request, we can remind him about those playoff inadequacies.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog

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