The Dallas Cowboys know their Super Bowl window is closing, and this puts more pressure on Tony Romo than ever before.
There is a reason quarterbacks get paid more than anybody else in football. It’s because the fate of teams rests on how well they play every week. Teams that have a Pro Bowl passer tend to make the playoffs and compete for championships a lot more often than teams that don’t. Dallas learned this lesson the hard way last year as their dreams of competing for a championship went up in smoke after Romo went down.
One can say the optimism around this team is nowhere near what it was a year ago. Romo is 36-years old. Even though the Cowboys have done a fine job building the offense around him, most recently with the addition of running back Ezekiel Elliott, there remains an air of pessimism around the team. Not just due to their ugly finish a year ago, but how depleted their defense has become. All three of their top edge rushers won’t be available at the start of the season. Greg Hardy is gone while Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence will serve four-game suspensions.
This will put even more pressure on Romo to carry the load early in the season. That’s why NFL.com tagged him as the most important player returning from injury in 2016.
"“There’s a cruel irony in knowing that Romo followed the best season of his career in 2014 with an injury-plagued 2015 campaign. He missed 12 games as a result of two separate collarbone fractures and his absence haunted this team all year. It’s fair to say the Cowboys would’ve run away with the mediocre NFC East had they not been forced to use three different quarterbacks to replace their fallen star. That revolving door of signal callers resulted in the Dallas averaging just 17.2 points a game and finishing 4-12. That’s why Romo tops this list right now. Bring him back to an offense with highly accomplished pass catchers (Dez Bryant and Jason Witten), an exciting rookie running back (Ezekiel Elliott) and the best offensive line in football, and it’s hard to not see the Cowboys returning to the postseason. All Romo has to do is stay healthy.”"
There lay the rub. Since 2010, Romo has missed 24 games with injuries ranging from back to collar bone. These are not just nagging ailments. They can have a debilitating affect as a player gets older, and for all his youthful exuberance on the field, Romo isn’t a spring chicken anymore. At what point will the ability to make plays start to suffer? It’s not a matter of if, but merely when.
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The Dallas Cowboys obviously hope they have a couple more years, but that is never a guarantee in the NFL. If they’re going to ever get that ring with Tony Romo as their quarterback, all signs point to it having to be this year.