Looking back on the season I am trying to focus on the positives to get the bad taste of the season ending loss to the Vikings out of my system. One of the things I want to do is look at the individual and the team successes for the season. I'm also going to address what I see as the major concerns heading into the offseason as well but I'll save the negatives for future posts. Today I want to focus on the team MVP.
At first glance it would be easy to name Tony Romo as the MVP but there are some other viable candidates I want to celebrate as well. I've identified three players I believe could be considered the MVP.
Tony Romo: This was easily Tony Romo's best season. He threw for 4483 yards and had 26 touchdown passes with only 9 interceptions. And with just 4 lost fumbles this season you could obviously see that Tony made a real commitment to protecting the ball this season. Watching the Cowboys lose to the Vikings only reminded me what a difference #9 makes for the offense. With the line blocking like bullfighters I think most quarterbacks would have be sacked 10-15 times against the constant pressure that Tony faced. He did what he could be he managed to make a few plays even without any protection. It scares me to think where this team would be without a mobile playmaker at quarterback like Tony Romo. We saw what the offense looks like last season when Tony is out...it is not a pretty sight.
Demarcus Ware: He is clearly the defensive MVP and you can make a strong case that he is also the team MVP. He forces the defense to account for him with 2 to 3 blockers on the majority of plays which frees up other defenders to make plays. And the performance he had against the Saints just 6 days after being carted off the field will be talked about forever. His performance in that game may have saved the season and definitely sparked the strong finish for the Cowboys. Without Demarcus Ware I don't think the Cowboys could have beaten the Saints, won the NFC East or won their first playoff game in 13 years. While the stats say that Demarcus had a down year with 11 sacks it was easy to see his impact even in the games where he didn't record a sack.
Miles Austin: The Cowboys were struggling early in the season as they kept alternating wins and losses. An injury to Roy Williams opened up a starting spot for Miles Austin. He broke out against the Chiefs with 10 catches for 250 yards and the game winning touchdown in overtime. From that point forward he was the unquestioned #1 receiver that had been missing from the offense early in the year. His emergence as a top receiver changed the offense from a struggling unit to a dynamic, big play offense. You have to wonder how the season would have gone without the play of Miles Austin. He ended the season with 81 catches for 1320 yards and 11 touchdowns. Imagine the numbers he might have put up had he started the first four games of the season.
I think you can easily make a case for any of these three players as the team MVP. But, for me, I can't look past the difference that Tony Romo makes. Romo's ability to escape trouble and elude the rush to make big plays makes him a unique talent in the NFL. Take him out of the lineup and the Cowboys would immediately become a below average team. You might be able to cover up the loss of Miles Austin or Demarcus Ware with the right scheme, but if you lose Romo then you have to redesign the entire offense. I would have a hard time arguing against Romo, Ware or Austin as the team MVP, but I can't get past his ability to make the pass blocking of the offensive line look better than it really is.
Tony Romo is my team MVP. Feel free to leave your comments with your MVP. Make sure to tell us why you think that player is the most valuable player on the team.