Friday, November 06, 2009

Most eyes see an improved Romo

Source: CourierPostOnline

PHILADELPHIA — A disgruntled Dallas receiver complains that quarterback Tony Romo does not throw the ball his way often enough, and when passes do come his way, they are difficult to catch and make him look foolish.

This isn't Terrell Owens. He's long gone from the Dallas scene. But Roy Williams seems to have taken his place, not so much in terms of production, but in terms of issuing complaints about Romo.

"(Romo's passes) make me look like crap," Williams told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. "The only thing that keeps me going is 'cause I know I'm not. I know what I am. I know what people are trying to make me be. I know I'm not that."

Williams further charged that Romo throws better passes to rookie Miles Austin, the Cowboys' receiving-yardage leader, who has caught 26 passes for 563 yards and six touchdowns.

"He gets the ball thrown correctly," Williams said. "I'm stretching, falling, doing everything. My balls are everywhere."

This all becomes relevant because the Cowboys are coming to Lincoln Financial Field for a Sunday night battle for first place in the NFC East.

If the Cowboys are, indeed, sniping at each other, that may help the Eagles.

But then again, maybe it won't.

No matter what Williams thinks of his situation, the Cowboys come in as a hot team. They've won three in a row, and the sometimes-maligned Romo has sparked the surge by passing for 918 yards during that stretch.

Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott smiled when asked about Williams' remarks.

"It looks to me like (Romo) is throwing pretty good passes all over the field," he said.

In the last three games, Romo has completed 60 percent of his passes, with seven touchdowns, and he has not thrown an interception. That's a change from what was thought to be one of his major weaknesses -- that he too often is guilty of making turnovers.

McDermott thinks Romo has improved by not trying to do too much.

"It seems to me they've got a great scheme, and he looks to execute the scheme," McDermott said. "When he does that, the scheme rolls pretty smoothly. When he gets outside the scheme, that's when things begin to break down, but I haven't seen that happen much this year."

Still, the Eagles have had some success at containing Romo. He has a 2-3 record against them, and he might have hit bottom in the season finale last year.

In a game both teams needed to win to make the playoffs, Romo passed for only 183 yards while fumbling twice and allowing the Eagles to enter postseason play with a 44-6 win.

Still, Eagles' defenders are wary. They know Romo has lots of targets including tight end Jason Whitten, who leads the team with 37 catches, and a running attack that has three different backs. It is led by Marion Barber, who has 397 yards and four touchdowns on 86 carries.

"I think we've played against some underrated offenses, but this one is a lot different because they pose so many different threats," safety Quintin Mikell said.

"They have a quarterback who is playing at a high level, so everyone is in play. They've got big-time playmakers, so this is the most difficult challenge we've had this season."

Romo may make everything work, but Austin presents opposing defenses with lots of problems.

He made his first career start Oct. 11 against the Kansas City Chiefs, a game Williams missed with an injury, and he made a huge impact with 10 catches for 250 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 60-yarder in overtime.

Austin has been in the starting lineup since then, and he hasn't slowed down much.

One of the things he does well is tack on yards after the catch. The 6-foot-3, 214-pounder has the size and strength to break tackles, and he's averaging 21.7 yards per catch.

"He might be one of the best we've seen at getting yards after the catch," Eagles cornerback Assante Samuel said. "We have to make sure that if he catches the ball, we wrap him up and get him down."