So yeah, Tony Romo. Not a bad outing for him in his first preseason game at the House That The Double J Built. He was poised. He was accurate. He didn’t let a snap sail fifteen yards past him.
He directed stadium security to make sure Jessica Simpson didn’t come stumbling into the joint three sheets to the wind after another White Grenache bender. Those are all good things.
For the evening, Romo was 18/24 for 192 yards with no TD’s and no picks. Romo was particularly impressive on the team’s second, 15-play TD drive, only throwing the ball downfield once, happy to pick the Titans’ defense apart with a series of precise throws underneath coverage. This wasn’t dink and dunk type stuff. This was Romo identifying a clear weakness in the Titans’ scheme and then having the good sense to exploit the hell out of it. It was an impressive display.
But there was one thing Romo did during the game that wasn’t so impressive. I speak, of course, of his play faking ability. Tony Romo sucks at play fakes. This is a pity, since he has Marion Barber and Felix Jones to work with. There’s no easier way to buy a little extra time than to perform a convincing fake handoff to either of those two distinguished gentlemen and then hearing opposing d-linemen shout to each other, “RUN! RUN! NO, WAIT! PASS! PASSSSSSSSSS!” That’s good stuff.
But Romo doesn’t sell his play fakes all that convincingly. On one play Friday night, he simply held the ball out for a second while Barber approached, then pulled the ball back well before Barber had gotten close to him. It was a cursory play fake that fooled exactly no one, and it’s not atypical when Romo’s out there.
A good play fake is always a thing of beauty. I particularly enjoy quarterbacks who OVERSELL it, the way Peyton Manning does. Peyton Manning executes a play fake the same way Al Pacino acts these days. He’s overwrought. He really chews the scenery. You half expect him to also pull a rabbit out from Joseph Addai’s breadbasket when he does it. TA DA! The man has flourish.
Selling a play fake convincingly is one of those small but utterly crucial details that make a great quarterback. Do it well, and you can even fool the cameraman. Hell, you can do that thing some QB’s do where you slow down to a walk and pretend like your job is done, only to pull the ball out and then BAM! Fifty-yard laser down the field. Steve Young was awesome at that. And Tony Romo could be, too. He’s just gotta go to Julliard for a few lessons.