The 2019 NFL season will kick off in two weeks when the Bears and Packers open the season on Sept. 5. For Tony Romo, the season begins that Sunday in Cleveland as he’ll be on the call with Jim Nantz for CBS with the Browns hosting the Titans in the nation’s first look at everyone’s new favorite team led by Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr.
Romo is entering his third year in the booth where he’s quickly become one of the best analysts in football, offering great insight and wowing audiences with his pre-play predictions as he lets his work in the film room shine on TV each week.
Along with his weekly CBS game of the week, Romo is back with Corona this season for the Corona Extra Gameday Hotline, where fans can call 1-844-9-Corona and he’ll offer up a gameday pep talk for their favorite team, player, or even fantasy squad. We spoke with Romo through Corona last week to preview the upcoming season, find out what he’s looking for out of the Browns in Week 1, get his thoughts on teams and players that could breakout this season, and more.
Phil Mickelson told a story on Twitter this week about how he got Tiger Woods mad at you when you were Tiger’s pro-am partner at Pebble Beach one year. What do you remember of that and what do you think of Phil bringing that story back to the masses?
Oh yeah, I know the story well [laughs]. I texted Phil and said share some, keep some. No, it’s all in good fun. Phil does a good job on his Phireside Chats, so, he did a good one there.
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) August 12, 2019
You’re entering your third year in the booth. What’s been the thing that’s been the biggest adjustment for you or something that you feel like from your first year to now you’ve gotten more comfortable with?
I would just say when you first start off the day-to-day logistics of things. The speed at which things go, your brain is just adjusting to that but then you’re just yourself. I wouldn’t say there’s a big difference in what I do as much as how you proceed to communicate it feels like you’re in a rhythm.
Your Week 1 game features the Browns, who might be the most talked about team going into this year given what they’ve done this offseason and being a popular pick as a playoff contender. I’m a Browns fan, so it’s nice to have some optimism for once, but what are you looking for to see from them in Week 1 that will let you know where they are now and if they can actually be a contender this year?
That’s a great question. I think the key for me that’s almost under the radar from last year is how well this offensive line played. Everyone wants to talk about Odell and all these other pieces they got, and I’m like, really the key is going to be whether the offensive line continues to perform like they did. If they do, then this team will live up to expectations, but if that offensive line isn’t as good you’ll find real quickly the game can be a lot more difficult. So that’ll be the first thing I look for.
By the way do they bring back all the same guys, or did they lose one or two, I believe?
Uh, I think they swapped in someone on there. I know they still have [Joel] Bitonio, but I think they have a new right guard [Zeitler out, Kush in]. Other than that it’s mostly the same group though, I believe.
The MVP discussion is probably going to be the guys we expect, but who is someone you think could break out in the sense of becoming a household name on a national level?
Well, like last year before the year with Baker (Mayfield) and Patrick (Mahomes), I think you’re going to see the same type of thing with Sam Darnold. I think you’re going to see him come out this year and, I said last year I really think he’s got a lot of upside with things I see and I think you’ll see a breakout by him.
What are some teams you like this year and think could take a step forward?
There are a bunch of teams, but I’m interested to see the Broncos and 49ers. I think those two teams have certain pieces and things that I know I think are important. I think they have some of that, so I think they’ll be interesting for me to watch. I don’t know if they’re good enough to win it all, but I think they can be better than what people may perceive them to be.
Mahomes was the big story last year in the league. From a quarterback’s perspective, we were all wowed by the arm strength and all that, but what impressed you the most from him as a guy in his first full season as a starter to have that type of season?
Well, his poise and his playmaking ability is what’s really rare. Some guys with playmaking ability move too early. Some guys with poise don’t move early enough. He has that rare combination to do both at the right time. That’s what stood out to me. Obviously he’s got a big arm, but their team is super talented. The combination of Andy Reid’s system and some dynamic players to throw to, and then you throw him in there, it was like the perfect storm.
You’re back with Corona this year doing the hotline and you’ll be giving gameday pep talks this season. I mentioned I am a Browns fan, so what would be your pep talk to the Browns heading into this season?
Well, you’re going to have to call 1-844-9-Corona to find out all the pep talks I give. But I think for the Browns, for me, it’s going to come down to you’ve got to go to work. More than anything, when you get talked about a lot like this it can be a deterrent. You think you can rely on your teammates to play really good or think we’re going to be good no matter what, and it’s like, no, this league’s very finite. You’ve got to put in the work and each and every one of you has to go get better before you can come together as a team.