by; Clifton Brown
The Sporting News
Now Tony Romo has plenty of free time to spend with Jessica Simpson.
The stunning end to the Cowboys’ season turned a potential storybook year for Romo into a nightmare. Just like last year, Romo’s play faded late in the season. Just like last year, Romo failed to win a playoff game.
Romo is a talented quarterback, but he still hasn’t played his best when it counts the most. For the Cowboys, that has to be a huge concern. They made a commitment to Romo with a long-term contract, but he hasn’t played like a star during the playoffs. You can’t blame Sunday’s loss to the Giants strictly on Romo, but some of his errant throws didn’t help. After this performance, there will be immense pressure on Romo whenever he enters a playoff game until he proves he can win one.
Wade Phillips, now 0-4 in the playoffs for his coaching career, will also enter next season with plenty to prove. Owner Jerry Jones continues to insist that Phillips’ job is safe, but two of Phillips’ most trusted assistants may soon become head coaches: Tony Sparano and Jason Garrett. Losing them would make it more difficult for Phillips to keep the Cowboys atop the NFC East. If I’m Phillips, I wouldn’t be feeling very comfortable right now. We all know Jones is not a patient man.
The Cowboys looked stunned after Sunday’s game, and they should have been. Once again, Romo faces a long offseason. And if I’m Simpson, it would be a long time until I showed up at another Cowboys game.
Other weekend impressions:
Biggest crybaby: Terrell Owens. You could almost picture Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb throwing something at his television, watching Owens crying and pledging his undying love for Romo following Sunday’s game. McNabb helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl when Owens was in Philly, yet Owens turned on McNabb. Now Owens is crying, defending Romo for going to Mexico with Simpson? I’m sure McNabb has a suggestion where Owens can go. And it isn’t Mexico.
Toomer was terrific. Often underappreciated, Amani Toomer came up big for the Giants, catching two touchdown passes. Plaxico Burress is more spectacular, but Toomer is the guy Eli Manning looks for when he’s in trouble. It’s no coincidence that Manning’s play dropped off significantly last season after Toomer got hurt. The Giants have continued winning without Jeremy Shockey, but Toomer’s shoes are much harder to fill.
Packer power. The Packers had the most dominant performance of the weekend, manhandling the Seahawks in the second half. No team has improved from September to January as much as the Packers have, and the contract extension Green Bay is about to give Mike McCarthy is well deserved. Right now, I think the Packers are the team that matches up best against the Patriots.
The character of the Chargers. People knew how talented the Chargers were, but on Sunday they displayed their toughness. With star players dropping all over the place, backups such as running back Michael Turner and quarterback Billy Volek stepped forward. It will be difficult for the Chargers to beat the Patriots, but it is clear that San Diego no longer shrinks from the glare of big games.
“There’s a mindset in our league that our guys kind of play good and are frontrunners,” said coach Norv Turner after the game. “When the going gets tough, or they play a good team, or when things get challenging, they don’t rise to the occasion. That’s been mentioned a few times to me and suggested a few times. I think we’ve put that thing to rest.”
Bracing for Dungy’s departure. The possibility that Tony Dungy may resign only added to the feeling of sadness in the Colts’ locker room. A lot of Colts have never played for another coach.
“He is the best coach in the NFL and I want him back, but it is not our choice,” said Colts tight end Dallas Clark.
“There’s not a man in this room that wouldn’t want him back,” said linebacker Darrell Reid.
The Colts have made the playoffs in all six of Dungy’s seasons as head coach, and they have won at least 12 games the last five seasons. But Dungy has many interests outside of football, and it seems harder for him to return every season. After winning the Super Bowl last February, Dungy has done everything a coach can possibly do. It won’t be a surprise if he walks away, and whoever replaces him will have an extremely difficult job.
Brady is the best. Tom Brady’s performance against the Jaguars should be turned into a video on how to play quarterback. Nobody is beating the Patriots if he continues to play like that.
Clifton Brown is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at email@example.com.