Tony Romo Explains How He’s Been Able To Be So Good So Fast In Just His First Year Of Broadcasting
If you have watched the NFL with any regularity this year then you know just how stunningly good former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has been in his first year of broadcasting for CBS. Before this year Romo had done a grand total of zero broadcasting work, yet CBS felt that he had so much potential they surprisingly replaced Jim Nantz’s long-time partner Phil Simms with the broadcasting rookie.
That gamble, if it even was one now looking back, has paid off big time for CBS as Romo has been nothing short of stellar with his ability to diagnose and analyze plays and in several instances even predicting them before they happen.
So how did the 37-year-old NFL veteran get so good at broadcasting so fast? In a new profile by Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated, Romo takes us behind the curtain and explains a little bit of what he does to prepare for games that makes him sound so amazingly polished during them.
When you are watching a play during a broadcast, where are you specifically looking?
The reality of it depends on formation, tendency, the coaching staff and the system. There are certain tendencies in every coach’s systems. So if you are in a Rod Marinelli, Monte Kiffin or Lovie Smith system–these guys are all from the same tree of systems–the system will dictate a lot of time where I am looking. It’s a hard thing to describe because it also goes to things like: Are they in the red zone? Is it third or first down? Is it situational? Also, given I know some specific systems, I don’t have to watch if someone is blitzing because I know the tendencies for a Rod Marinelli defense—14% of the time they will be putting pressure [on the offense]. I will know if they are coming into a game with a pressure plan or not. My eyes might be going to which linebackers are moving, which nickelback or safety is getting to the line. My eyes might move to the coverage, and then you look at the coverage and you all of sudden find quickly what they could run out of a certain pre-snap look. Then your eyes might take a peak at the defensive ends. Let’s say it is [Raiders linebacker] Khalil Mack. Are they going to give him help here, or is he going one-on-one [against a defender]? Because if he is going one-on-one there is a good chance that the quarterback is running something quick, especially if it is a good coaching staff on offense. If it is not a good coaching staff going in, it might be they are just hoping that this guy can block that guy and they are just playing ball. Things like that go through your brain.
Wow. Things like that may go through YOUR brain, Tony, but not the average person. No wonder Romo has done so well.
When it comes his preparation for upcoming games, Romo is also just as thorough, and a lot of it has to do with talking to the coaches.
I want to gear the conversation toward football talk and not just, “Well, tell me how have you guys been doing lately?” I want it to be deeper. I want it to be like, “OK, you guys have been very successful running out of ‘11’ personnel, which is three wide receivers and a tight end, but I see this team plays a lot of ‘Bear’ front, which means they reduce the front so they take three of their four lineman and cover the guards and center so now you can’t pull any of those guys. … What can you do to run the football because there are a lot of challenges against that.” Well, you will find out real fast if a coach knows what he is talking about or not.
Sheesh, Romo is a GD broadcasting beast. Here’s even more proof and it involves The Hoodie…
You get into a meeting with Bill Belichick, it is really fascinating. I am asking him about the flex defense or things about Tom Landry’s system. We are both football junkies, it makes it really enjoyable to meet and talk football and schematics. I know the rest of our CBS staff might be bored for an hour, but it is fascinating for me. This is why you have to be prepared, so you can talk to those guys that way.
When you have the ability and know-how to get inside The Hoodie’s head then you know you’re definitely well-suited for the job.
I think we also like you doing this “broadcasting thing.” Well, maybe every one except for Brent Musberger.
Check out the entire fascinating long-form piece on Romo, the 2017 Sports Illustrated Media Person Of The Year, over at SI.com.