Tony Romo makes case to be Belichick's heir apparent after correctly predicting Patriots' plays all night


Conventional wisdom says Josh McDaniels is setting himself up to be Bill Belichick’s heir apparent, if the Hoodie ever decides to retire. But if those apparent plans fall through, there’s another man who’s right for the job: Tony Romo.

The NFL’s best analyst was in-sync with Brady and Belichick all night long in the Patriots’ incredible 37-31 win over the Chiefs to advance to their ninth Super Bowl in this era of dominance. Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton should’ve found a way to listen in on the CBS broadcast. Perhaps he would've picked up a few things.

Romo’s prescience was on full display during the Patriots’ final three drives, which all resulted in touchdowns. He correctly predicted Sony Michel’s 10-yard touchdown run, Brady’s 3rd-and-5 completion to Gronk down the right sideline, a key overtime third-down completion to Edelman, another third-down throw to Gronk and Rex Burkhead’s two touchdown runs. It was masterful.

You thought Tom Brady was great tonight? Here's some snippets of Tony Romo's late-game forecasting wizardry.

— Jack Korte (@JackMyNBC5) January 21, 2019

Romo took note early of Brady’s tendency to check into running plays on third down at the line of scrimmage if the Chiefs were going to send an extra defender on one side of the field. Brady would simply hand off the ball to James White in these spots, leading to two third-down conversions on the Patriots’ first drive alone.

Listening to Romo describe Brady’s pre-snap thought process allows you to appreciate TB12 even more. It shows that Brady is truly an additional coach on the field, and at this stage in his career, is just outsmarting opposing defenses. This was apparent on Michel’s touchdown run, when Romo correctly identified Brady was killing the play, and signaling for a “motion and run out wide to the right.”

It also happened on Burkhead’s 10-yard scramble following Gronkowski’s overtime slant pass on 3rd-and-10. Romo instantly identified Brady was switching the play and calling for his second option, which was a hand-off to the back. 

Romo’s best quality as a broadcaster is his lack of analyst-speak. He almost never spouts cliches or empty jargon to fill time. On replay reviews, Romo moves the action forward, opposed to just narrating what viewers can see on TV for themselves. After Lawrence Guy and John Simon’s sack of Patrick Mahomes, for example, Romo talked about how the Patriots were rotating defensive linemen on the line of scrimmage to generate pressure on the soon-to-be NFL MVP. They were trying to get Mahomes off his point without blitzing, and did just that. 

The Romo detractors, who look sillier by the day, continuously point to his penchant for noisemaking and enthusiastic verbal quips. But the truth is, those habits are probably the reason why CBS felt comfortable putting Romo in the No. 1 color analyst spot right away. This is still about entertainment, and I’m sorry, but Romo comparing Edelman’s muffed point –– “did it touch his finger taps?!” –– to the Grassy Knoll is endearing in a goofy certain of way. It certainly beats Dan Fouts reciting 20-year-old lines from “Waterboy.”

In two weeks, Romo will call his first Super Bowl for CBS alongside Jim Nantz. It is the closest we’ll ever get to Belichick and Brady themselves being in the booth, and if we have to put up with some obnoxious ooh’s and ah’s, so be it.