Eli Manning has recently taken credit for being the perfect example of what a big game QB is. He has a career QB rating of 81.1 throwing a ridiculous amount of interceptions and embarking on annual streaks of ineptitude. When the playoffs begin it’s a different story. Eli’s post season QB rating is a much more impressive 89.3 good enough for 9 all-time. That’s still only eight points above Romo’s postseason rating but since he won two Super Bowls – we are impressed. The only QB with a bigger postseason rating improvement over the regular season is Mark Sanchez. Yes, that Mark Sanchez. Mark is ranked #131 all-time QB rating but in the postseason he blasts up to #6 all-time with a 94.3 rating. Does this say Sanchez is clutch? Does it say he has proven he can get it done? Does it say he gives you a better chance in the postseason than Romo? Well, just looking at the numbers, it kinda does. But luckily we have eyes. The eyes can see what’s really going on. We have brains. Our brains can read the real story. Some of us just chose to ignore it and take an It Is What It Is / Numbers Don’t Lie attitude. Do you really think Sanchez made his team win or do you think his defense played a bigger role? Do you think that might have had more to do with his gaudy playoff numbers than Mark’s individual talent? Look at Eli Manning now. Do you honestly think Manning would have the success he’s had if he was playing on the Cowboys? Do you think he’d even still be in the league if he was playing behind this Dallas Cowboys offensive line? These are questions worth asking aren’t they? It’s not as easy as just spitting out QBR’s and playoff records in order to explain the worth of a QB.
Romo does have a losing playoff record that much is true. Without diving too deeply into it try to remember back. Tony essentially won his first playoff game as a QB vs Seattle. Romo the holder dropped the snap and lost the game. True, it was still him but he did the hard part of it and fell victim to a fluke. Also try to remember the league even felt the shiny ball was suspicious enough to institute a rule ensuring teams could not tamper with kicking balls anymore.
The great year of 2007 was when the Cowboys were upset by the New York Giants on their way to their first Super Bowl. Analysts are eager to say the game ended because of the Romo interception but the reality was, it was fourth down, end of the game, and Romo was just throwing one up for a chance. He could have just thrown it away, accepted the loss, and improved his QB rating to around 90, but he wanted to win. Also remember how poorly the offensive line was that day and how he was running for his life all afternoon.
In 2009 he earned his first win in the postseason. The Cowboys followed that up with one of the worst offensive line performances by a playoff team all-time. Romo was destroyed and so was the offensive line that offseason.
That all lead to a 1-3 record. He certainly needs to share some of the blame. After all, great QB’s find a way to win. But what QB could have really won in those situations? The list has to be pretty short. While we’re discussing “short lists”, do you know how many current QB’s have a winning playoff record? Seven. Just seven QB’s can lay claim to that. They are Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, and Mark Sanchez (him again).
This should tell most people that Romo is a very good QB. Most likely he’s a top 10 QB. It would be difficult to make an argument saying otherwise (Not impossible as I know many people are currently accepting the challenge of saying otherwise). This should also reinforce Romo is not elite either. He can carry this team singlehandedly one week, then not at all the next. He’s just not good enough to do it every week all by himself. That’s what he is at this point. It’s possible he could improve this late in his career but not very likely. That’s really ok too. While he takes all the blame, he’s not the problem with this team.
The problem with this team starts at the top. Jerry Jones’ open door is actually a detriment to the coaching staff. Players have two bosses and as long as they keep one happy they are going to be fine. Jason Garrett preaches but does not practice accountability. No player is in fear of losing his job because there are no consequences. Sometimes a coach needs to bench the starter and play the less talented back-up in order to send a message. Garrett refuses to send the message therefore the players have no reason to listen.
The team is disorganized. How many times have we seen defensive players late to enter the field? It should have cost us the game on Sunday. Players are dumb. Blame coaching, blame players, blame everyone. Regardless who you blame these guys are the dumbest team in the league. Finally – Horrible talent evaluation. How does Orlando Scandrick have a job let alone a sizable contract extension? He is bad. He’s always been bad. He will always be bad. Add him to the ever-growing list of defensive back failures this team has missed on. We pray Barry Church is the answer but we really have no idea. The club has missed on the 13 that came before him, they’re bound to hit on one sooner or later, right? The offensive line is even worse. The list of wasted OL draft picks has reached epic proportions. The line has underperformed even the most modest of expectations. They are bad. They are horrible. They are dangerous and embarrassing. The only QB that could successfully operate behind this line is probably Aaron Rodgers (very elite).
Why does it suck to Romo? Because he plays with dumb and untalented players and when they screw up, he takes the heat. How many times can the receivers run the wrong routes? Dez finally got through a game where he didn’t run the wrong route. How bad does that sound? NFL QB’s don’t throw to players, they throw to places on the field. When a player doesn’t go where he’s supposed to go, the ball can easily be intercepted. You have to feel bad for Romo when he throws a perfect pass and it gets intercepted because the receiver ran the wrong route. At the end of the game the route error is forgotten and everyone pins the error on Romo.
His struggles don’t end there. The offensive line is one of the worst in the league. Romo gets run over, sacked, hit, and hurried far too many times. He looked like he was going to kill them on Sunday as they gave up sack after sack. Do you really wonder why Romo gets a little skittish in the pocket and throws a dumb pass from time to time? This line is so consistently awful that when they do effectively pass block, he just can’t believe it. Do you know what Aikman would do to these guys if they were blocking for him. He would epically berate them and demand their replacement (as soon as he was released from the hospital). When a Cowboy screws up Romo usually takes the blame. We all know we shouldn’t do this but for some reason it’s just easier to blame him.
The haters are gonna hate. We know this too. If you hate Romo you may abide by the simplistic, “We’re never going to win in the postseason with Romo as our QB”, not much can probably be said to change your mind. The funny thing is a saying like this can’t even apply to Mark Sanchez. He’s one of the worst QB’s in the league and he proved a QB CAN perform well if the team around him is good enough. The worse your QB, the better those around him needs to be. The better the QB, the worse the team can be. If you believe Romo needs to be replaced, then you must believe 90%+ of the roster needs to be replaced. Which might not be a crazy thought.
Tony Romo will continue to take heat for others mistakes. He will also make just enough mistakes on his own to validate the hate. If he was on any other team it wouldn’t be like this but alas, it is the Cowboys and he is the starting QB. To much is given, much is expected. Somehow he puts up with it. Most couldn’t handle it or would at least flip out during the postgame interviews every week. He’s not elite but he’s still pretty darn good. The Cowboys CAN win with him. It’s the other 90% of the roster you should be worried about.