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Cowboys Video: The Romo, Williams Connection

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Jonathan Bales

I talked briefly about the Cowboys’ goal line plays during their first series against the Bengals in my film study observations and a recent mailbag.

Below is an analysis of the 2nd and Goal play which resulted in an incomplete pass to Roy Williams.  Williams ran a tremendous slant route, but the pressure forced Romo to overthrow him.  But was it the right route?  Take a look. . .


In my opinion, there’s no way for us to decipher whose “fault” it was that the play was unsuccessful.  The cornerback was playing with inside leverage, meaning a receiver would typically run an out-breaking route if given an option.

But not all plays have an “option” route designed into them.  It is true that goal line plays frequently have a receiver option.  If that was the case on this particular 2nd and Goal play, then Williams probably should have run an out, corner, back shoulder fade, etc.

We have no way of knowing the play-call, though.  Perhaps Williams wasn’t given an option and was told to strictly run a slant.

I also disagree with Bryan Broaddus’ interpretation that Romo’s shoulder position meant he was expecting Williams to run an out-breaking route.  Perhaps Romo was thinking just that, but he often uses his shoulders to manipulate defenders.

Further, it would have been extremely difficult for Romo to even recognize the slight inside leverage with which the cornerback was playing.  Romo was 15+ yards away from the cornerback and, unless his depth perception is superhuman, he probably wouldn’t be able to notice the difference between the cornerback playing head-up or with a half-yard of inside leverage.  Remember, he doesn’t have the bird’s eye view that we do.

Instead, Romo would wait for Williams to make his move on an option route before throwing the ball.  That slight hesitation is the price they must pay for implementing extra options into a route.  Thus, even if it was an option route, Romo wouldn’t be whole-heartedly anticipating an out-breaking route, even if he thought it might be coming.

So was the throw Romo’s fault?  Not at all.  He did double-clutch the ball (perhaps thrown off by Williams’ uncanny fake), but his initial pump was probably due to a lack of protection.  He had to get the ball out as soon as possible, meaning if Williams did run an out-breaking route, Romo had to be prepared to unleash the ball.

So was it all the fault of the offensive line?  Nope.  The Bengals sent eight defenders after Romo.  The ‘Boys had just seven players to block.  Sure, you might expect a little more time than what we saw, but it isn’t like Romo will have all day to sit back and throw.

You might be asking, “But how could it not be anyone’s fault?”  Well, the fact that no one is at fault doesn’t mean the play was perfectly executed (obviously).  Everyone can do the right thing without doing it perfectly.  Perhaps a more cohesive offensive line would have resulted in better protection.  Maybe a better connection between Romo and Williams would have resulted in a different outcome.

So while no one was at fault, everyone still needs to improve.  Hey, that’s what preseason is for.

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