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Eagles vs Cowboys: Is Tony Romo Really Healthy?

When he last played the Eagles, Tony Romo had only 3 days of rest. Now he has 10. Will it even matter?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Following the Eagles' 33-10 trouncing of the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, the short week the Cowboys had to prepare was given as an excuse for why the Cowboys played poorly on both sides of the ball. While only three days to prepare against Chip Kelly's offense is never a good thing, a few extra days of practice wouldn't have helped the Cowboys defense. But would the extra rest have benefited the offense, in particular Tony Romo?

Almost one year ago Romo required season ending surgery to repair a herniated disc. Because of that surgery, he does not practice on Wednesdays. In October of this year he fractured two small bones in his vertebra. While the two injuries , two back injuries in less than a year bodes well for no one, much less a 34 year old quarterback. Futher, last week he revealed that he has played through cracked ribs for a couple of months.

A back injury and what was at the time an undisclosed rib injury. Would three extra days of rest really have mattered?

A week after the Eagles Thanksgiving game, the Cowboys played the Bears on Thursday Night Football. The excuse of not having a full week of recovery was not applicable, so if the extra rest was the reason why Romo didn't play well, he should have been in good form. He wasn't. The stat line indicates he had a good game, as he was 21-26 for 205 yards, 3 TD and 0 INT. The film tells a different story. As always, context is key. The Bears defense is atrocious. They give up 6.0 yards per play, 4th worst in the league, a spot ahead of the Cowboys. They are 6th worst in completion percentage and 3rd worst in yards per attempt. They're also 3rd worst in passer rating. They are 16th in sack percentage, but only 23rd in Football Outsider's Adjusted Sack Percentage (the Eagles are 7th). Football Outsiders also rates them 27th in defensive DVOA, 29th against the pass. It's just not by any measure a good pass defense. We should expect a quarterback of any caliber to move the ball against them.

Which Romo did... in small gains. Romo's 7.9 yards per attempt is actually worse than the Bears average of 8.1. One reason for this is only a handful of Romo's attempts were down field. We know a healthy Romo has a strong arm and isn't afraid to sling it. This season he is tenth in percentage of air yards as a total of his passing yards, which is up from 16th last year. And with the Bears pass defense being so bad, there's no need to try to beat them with a quick short passing attack. Throwing the ball down field is very efficient against them. They are 30th in passing yards against, but only 15th in yards after the catch against. They give up yards every way, there's little reason to not take shots down field on them.

One of those reasons is if your quarterback can't make the throws because he's hurt.

Romo deep pass CHI A

This is the second longest pass Romo attempted against the Bears. Dez Bryant is wide open, and Romo completely misses him. There's no excuse for that throw.

Romo deep pass CHI B

This is the longest pass of Romo's night... and it's underthrown. Dez Bryant is wide open down the sideline, but he's got to slow down and come to ball to catch it because Romo can't put anything into the throw. These are throws we have seen Romo make time and again when healthy. But with a bad back and ribs, this is the best he could do.

Romo did complete 80% of his passes against the Bears. But nearly all were short completions, and nearly all were with a clean pocket thanks to the Bears inadequate pass rush. These are all the throws that Romo attempted where the pass rush effected him. There aren't many.

Romo CHI sack

That is the one sack the Bears got on Romo and in fairness there wasn't much he could have done.

Romo CHI hurry A

Romo CHI hurry B

Romo CHI hurry D

So many times we have seen Tony Romo make something out of the nothing that is those plays. It's one of the things that makes him such a good player. But on this night, he threw the ball for minimal gain or out of bounds. We did see him create a positive play out of the pocket, but it wasn't anything special.

Romo CHI hurry C

That pass probably shouldn't have been completed. But when you throw on Chris Conte, good things usually happen. Here Conte goes for the ball when he's got no shot at it, and the floated pass lands in the hands of Cole Beasley, who is able to stumble into the end zone because Conte has needlessly taken himself out of the play, similar to Rahim Moore against the Ravens in 2012. (Click here.)

Only two pass attempts out of 26 that went beyond 20 yards, in a game where he had a clean pocket virtually all night. A healthy Romo takes more down field shots than he did against the Bears. It's his bread and butter. The Cowboys put up 41 points that night, thanks to a season high rushing total by DeMarco Murray, 179 yards, on a career high number of carries, 32. Against a very good Eagles run defense, Murray isn't going to match that total. And against a pass defense that is 2nd in completion percentage and sack percentage, Romo isn't either even if healthy. Which he is not. Ten days isn't going to cure what ails him or the Cowboys.

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