Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fast start to season is crucial for Tony Romo and Cowboys

DALLAS - If it’s possible for the Cowboys to begin a season with limited fanfare, this is it. News of "America’s Team" in Dallas has taken a back seat to the latest on the "Dream Team" in Philadelphia while the first Super Bowl winner (and the last) appears to rule the NFC from Green Bay.

To return the Cowboys to relevance, the man who must own the first quarter - of the season, not just Sunday night’s season opener against the New York Jets [team stats] - is Tony Romo.

Super Bowls aren’t won in September, even if Green Bay still looked reasonably super Thursday night. Honestly, that’s not what the Cowboys are about these days, anyway. Nineteen teams have been to Super Bowls - some of them multiple times - since Dallas made its last visit 16 seasons ago.

For the Cowboys, after a disastrous 6-10 season that featured that rarest of NFL admission-to-failures - a midseason coaching change - it’s about finding that .500 level and then getting back into the playoff picture.

The Cowboys aren’t hosting a Super Bowl this year and no one outside the organization thinks much of their chances in visiting one. They just want to become a team that’s still part of the postseason hunt when we get to December.

For that reason, Romo has to be at his best right away. The Cowboys won’t play a game against a quarterback who would be ranked superior (not at the moment, anyway) in the season’s first four games.

Romo has to outperform the Jets’ Mark Sanchez, Washington’s Rex Grossman, San Francisco’s Alex Smith and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford to get this team on track before it has to deal with the likes of New England’s Tom Brady [stats], the Eagles’ Michael Vick or even the Giants’ Super Bowl-winning Eli Manning on down the road.

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