To Denver, or not to Denver? That is the question for Tony Romo.
Reports are the Dallas Cowboys are releasing Tony Romo and allowing him a chance to choose his place to land. Those same reports speculate that Romo is choosing between two primary suitors: The Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos have already seen a free agent quarterback choose Houston over Denver in Brock Osweiler. Rick Smith, the Texans’ general manager, won the bidding war against John Elway for the rights to the mid-level quarterback and now a year later Houston is eyeing Romo. To think, the team that burned Denver last offseason by stealing their quarterback already needs one again and the whole process could repeat. Oh, the bitter irony for both sides.
Losing Romo, and worse, seeing him win the AFC South knowing you could of had him in orange and blue would hurt. Seeing him take the Texans to the Super Bowl would be excruciating.
These two teams, the Broncos and Texans, are in similar situations. Both are extremely strong on the defensive side of the ball. Many pundits say both are just a QB away from true Super Bowl contention. The Broncos, with Chris Harris, Aqib Talib and company, have a better secondary than Houston, but Houston could say they have more strength in stopping the run. Houston was, after all, the No. 1 overall defense in the league last year.
While the defenses show similarities, the offenses are vastly different. Houston, when pitching and wooing Romo, can certainly use Denver’s offensive line woes to their favor. The Denver o-line gave up 40 sacks total in 2016, ranking 24th in the NFL. The Broncos on the ground were even worse, ranking 28th in the league with 3.6 rushing yards per attempt. That is not a great feature for Romo, a man with a long, long history of injury and who has to consider the offensive line when choosing his possibly last few years in the league. The Texans, while not having a Cowboys-caliber line, certainly have one better than what awaits the quarterbacks in Denver.
In terms of offensive weapons, Denver might have a slight edge in the wide receiver department, but that gap isn’t as wide as one might think. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are a stellar duo. But DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller won’t be far behind, especially with a QB of Romo’s ability throwing them the ball (no offense, Brock). Out of the backfield, Lamar Miller proved to be Houston’s most reliable offensive weapon last year. Denver, meanwhile, has had anything but reliability from the running back corps over the past few years.
It is not just about the roster when choosing the landing spot for Romo. The Broncos have a new coach, who has never been an NFL coach before. Vance Joseph is defensive-minded and unproven. Bill O’Brien, on the other hand, is an offensive-minded coach with a strong resume. O’Brien was a wide receivers coach in New England, then Tom Brady’s quarterbacks coach, then an offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots under Bill Belichick. After leaving the evil empire, O’Brien took over and won at Penn State, when no one said he could or should. As the Houston Texans coach he is 27-21 in the regular season and he has won the AFC South the last two seasons. O’Brien is not perfect, but he is proven.
There are other benefits for Romo going to Houston (and staying in Texas). No state income tax. He wouldn’t have to move his wife and kids to another state. And at this stage in his life, Romo must think of legacy. If Romo were to sign today in Houston, he would instantly become the greatest QB in Texans history. He will never be able to say that in Denver, even with a Super Bowl.
Tony Romo must consider the competition as well. With or without Tony Romo, the Texans will probably win the AFC South. That division truly is that bad. The Colts are a mess starting at the very top. The Tennessee Titans are getting better, but they are still years away from being a real threat. And the Jacksonville Jaguars are just an absolute tragic calamity.
The AFC West, however, presents a nightmare of a schedule. Start at the bottom with the
San Diego Los Angeles Chargers: They have Phillip Rivers and an up-and-coming defense which proved troublesome for Denver last season. The Oakland Raiders might be a top-five team in the AFC. They are very young, very talented and are only getting better. The Kansas City Chiefs, who were also in early reports of possible destinations for Romo, can beat anyone on any given day and should contend again atop the AFC West. If you’re Romo and you go to the Broncos, you have to play that murder’s row not once a year, but twice. For the entire length of your contract. The path of least resistance in the AFC starts in Houston.
So if Denver has to land Tony Romo, how do they do it?
When they take Tony Romo to the steakhouse known as Elway’s, have the table ready.
Make Romo wear a gold jacket.
Have a Super Bowl ring waiting for him as a napkin holder. In fact, have three.
Put all three Lombardi trophies on the table as a centerpiece.
Add eight AFC Championship trophies in the background for ambiance.
Houston might have great BBQ, but they don’t have a spread like that.
Tony Romo is a borderline Hall of Fame player. A Super Bowl ring or two would make the Hall of Fame certain for Romo. A gold jacket is awaiting Tony Romo, but only with a ring. Without it, he might just miss the cut. Romo is a great player, but HOF voters want winners. Unfortunately for Tony, he hasn’t been able to do that as of yet. Denver knows how this game is played. They have done it before and will do it again.
Why Houston over Denver? The Texans may have a better o-line, solid offensive weapons, a stellar defense, a more experienced coach, no state income tax and a much easier path to the playoffs.
So why Denver over Houston? Because The Texans have no rings. The Broncos have three.