Eagles say Romo better sans TO, er, ‘distractions’

Eagles coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb both see

big changes in Tony Romo’s leadership ability this season.

Hmm. What might’ve changed from previous seasons?

“It was that hole in the dome,” Reid said.

In separate conference calls with Cowboys writers Wednesday,

Reid and McNabb both brought up Romo’s growth as a quarterback and

seemed to make veiled references to his improvement stemming from

the absence of Terrell Owens – something the folks in Philadelphia

understand as well as anyone.

“It’s obvious (Romo) is the leader of the offense,” Reid said.

“Not that he wasn’t before, but there were a couple of

distractions there and he doesn’t have any of that. He’s just

playing great football.”

Asked specifically what those distractions might have been, Reid

made his snickering reference to the architectural shift in going

from Texas Stadium to Cowboys Stadium (which, by the way, has a

retractable hole in the roof). When asked if McNabb grew as a

leader after losing his own distractions, Reid said: “Well, we

didn’t have the hole in the dome.”

Speaking earlier, McNabb was asked about the differences in the

Cowboys this year and last year. He went straight to how Romo has

asserted himself.

“It’s Tony’s team,” McNabb said. “The good thing about

playing the quarterback position, when you have the reins and you

have command of the guys, and the guys are following along with

everything they tell them and show them, good things can happen.

You’ve seen in recent weeks, the team has really played well and

Tony’s played well as well. That’s part of the difference you see

on that whole ball team.”

Romo is over 4,000 yards for the second time in his career,

needing just 40 yards passing in the finale Sunday against the

Eagles to break the club record he set two years ago when Owens was

his prime target.

This time last year, the Cowboys were fractured as stories

swirled surrounding Owens’ deteriorating relationship with Romo.

Dallas lost to Philadelphia 44-6 in the season finale to miss the

playoffs, and Owens was cut a few months later.

Romo’s improvement this season includes far fewer interceptions

and the development of Miles Austin into a Pro Bowl receiver.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Wednesday he’s not surprised that

Romo has developed as a leader. He said it comes with age and

experience; asked whether Owens’ absence helped, Jones said, “Not

necessarily.”

“He’s not the same guy he was three years ago or four years

ago,” Jones said. “He’s better technically as a quarterback, his

knowledge bank has dramatically improved and I give (offensive

coordinator) Jason Garrett credit for a lot of that as well. He’s a

different guy in a positive way than he was three years ago.”