There are still a lot of unanswered questions about both the 2012 version of the Cowboys and their regular season opponents. And, other than a handful of proven elite QBs, it is difficult to predict how a player will play in the future simply upon the prior year’s stats. But, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the QBRs for the quarterbacks that the Cowboys will face this coming season.
First of all, for comparison sake let’s note that Tony Romo had a rating of 102.5 in 2012 making him the 4th best QB in the league based simply on QBR (behind the usual suspects – Rodgers, Brees, and Brady). These 4 quarterbacks were the only ones that finished the regular season with a rating above 100. Although Tony made some bad plays at very bad times, Cowboy fans should not lose sight of the fact that we have a very talented quarterback who should be hitting his prime.
So, here are the 5 best QBs the Cowboys will face in 2012 in descending order based on last year’s QB rating:
1. Drew Brees, Saints - 2012 rating: 110.2. Brees had a record setting year in 2012 amassing almost 5,500 yards passing, completing 71 percent of his passes, and scoring 46 touchdowns. Despite all that, his passer rating was only eight points higher than Romo. But, that was last year. Right now, he is mired in a bitter contract dispute and his team is reeling from “Bounty Gate”. The Cowboys won’t see Brees until December 23rd – the Saints are talented but all the upheaval does not bode well for them in 2012. It’s likely we catch them after they are already eliminated from the playoffs or resting for the playoffs if they are somehow able to overcome all the adversity.
2. Eli Manning, Giants - 2012 rating: 92.9. Giants fans would say, “so what” about Super Bowl XLVI’s MVP having a lower overall rating than Romo and they’d be right. I’d rather have the ring and so would Tony. But, it does demonstrate that it wasn’t necessarily Eli’s consistency or dominance that brought home the Lombardi trophy. He has however developed an uncanny nack to come through in the clutch. That is something Romo would be wise to try and emulate. We face Eli twice of course – opening night on the road and then October 28th at home. I can’t wait to see if our secondary helps our pass rush or our pass rush helps our improved secondary, but not even miracle Eli will be able to pull out the game lying under a pile of Cowboys pass rushers.
3. Matt Ryan, Falcons - 2012 rating: 92.2. With New Orleans’ troubles, many see a window of opportunity for the Falcons this season and Matt Ryan will be at the center of it. With Roddy White, Julio Jones, and the ageless Tony Gonzalez to throw to, Ryan is poised to have a good season. But, similar to Romo Ryan has not been able to deliver playoff wins in his 4 seasons. The Cowboys have to travel to Atlanta on November 4th in the midst of a brutal stretch of the season playing 4 of 5 games away from Cowboys Stadium. Ryan is good at home in the dome – the Cowboys new secondary will be tested.
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers - 2012 Rating: 90.1. The Steelers are always a tough team to beat – especially historically for the Cowboys. But, they seem to be aging a bit and are facing a very disgruntled #1 receiver, Mike Wallace, who is not happy about how the Steelers have handled his contract situation this off season. At least the Cowboys get this game – part of the brutal December finish – at home. Big Ben is never spectacular but always seems to do just enough to pull out a win here and there. I don’t expect the Cowboys to give him a chance to do that despite the date on the calendar.
5. Jay Cutler, Bears - 2012 rating: 85.7. There has been a lot of talk about the Bears this off season being a much improved team. Granted, they have some weapons – assuming they get Matt Forte back in the fold. They also traded for Brandon Marshall and drafted Alshon Jeffery, at one point a highly touted receiver prospect before falling a bit in the draft. The defense will be stout and they help create turnovers and short fields for Cutler and the offense, but despite the fact that I like Cutlers’ “take no prisoners” attitude at times, I don’t see him in the same tier as Romo. They catch the Cowboys on a Monday night the week before their bye though – which is early in the season before we or the team may have forged an identity yet. Let’s hope both teams come in undefeated and the Cowboys emerge with a hard fought win as they head into their bye week to rest and heal.
Of course, I haven’t even talked about Robert Griffin III or the likely starter in Cleveland, Brandon Weeden because this ranking was based on last year’s stats. Both are talented but I would caution people’s expectations to not be extraordinarily high for rookie quarterbacks. What Cam Newton did was really rare. The Cowboys also will likely see Matt Flynn with Seattle in the second game. He had a passer rating of 124.8 but that was almost entirely based on a single game against the Lions. He’ll have to not only win the starting job in Seattle – not at all assured based on how he has reportedly performed in OTA’s and minicamp so far - but also prove he can consistently perform at a high level.
It was suprising to see where some of the “hot” names from last year actually ranked – Andy Dalton, 80.4, Michael Vick, 84.9, Joe Flacco, 80.9, and Cam Newton, 84.5. The Cowboys will face all of these guys – Vick and RGIII twice. Any one of these players can have a good game and play above his rating, but it was certainly eye opening to me to see just where Romo’s season ranked last year among all QBs. It’s an old cliche to say “it is a game of inches” but cliches exist because they are often true. Romo had a very solid season and had he gotten just a few breaks, the story of 2011 might have had a happier ending. Let’s hope the defense can dominate or at least contain these 5 quarterbacks as well as the signal callers on all their opposing teams. If not, it won’t matter what Romo’s rating is at the end of the day. Go Cowboys!
Tags: Andy Dalton Ben Roethlisberger Brandon Weeden Cam Newton Cowboys Dallas Dallas Cowboys Drew Brees Eagles Eli Manning Giants Jay Cutler Joe Flacco Matt Ryan Michael Vick New York Giants NFL Philadelphia Eagles Robert Griffin III Tony Romo Washington Redskins