Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Or, at least he should be. The NFL Network just wrapped up their “Top 100 Players of 2013” series where they attempt to identify and rank the top 100 players in the NFL as voted on by players. His NFL peers just gave Tony a giant slap in the face. According to them, there are at least 14 NFL quarterbacks better than Tony Romo. By almost any measure, that is just absurd!
First of all, maybe it is nitpicking but it seems strange to rank any NFL player for 2013 seeing that we haven’t played a down yet this season. If Adrian Peterson – this year’s top player – breaks both ankles on his first carry of the 2013 regular season, is he still the top player in 2013? Probably not. So, the ranking is heavily influenced by the results in 2012 and AP’s remarkable return from injury and nearly record setting season justify his high ranking. But, what about the quarterbacks that made the top 100 while Romo was left out?
No surprises in the top 4. Not even I would suggest that Romo belongs in the same zip code as these guys – although I would love to turn back time and put Tom Brady behind the same Cowboys’ offensive lines that Romo has had and compare their stats. But, that’s another story. Clearly these guys are elite as their 2012 season stats suggest.
#2 – Peyton Manning 105.8/4,659 yards/37 TD/11 Int/.019 Int Per Att
#4 – Tom Brady 98.7/4,827 yards/34 TD/8 Int/.013 Int Per Att
#6 – Aaron Rodgers 108.0/4,295 yards/39 TD/8 Int/.014 Int Per Att
#11 – Drew Brees 96.3/5,177 yards/43 TD/19 Int/.028 Int Per Att
After these four is where I think it starts to get confusing or downright ludicrous (Eagles and Giants fans will have to look that word up)!
#15 – Robert Griffin III 102.4/3,200 yards/20 TD/5 Int/.019 Int Per Att
No doubt RGIII is a gifted player – no one is arguing that. But, after a single season is he the 5th best QB and the 15th best player in the entire NFL? Maybe, but doesn’t he have to kind of show he wasn’t a “one-hit wonder”? He had a major knee injury in 2012 and while all indications are that his rehab is going miraculously, don’t we need to see him on the field? Lots of players have had one good year. The truly great ones do it consistently. He deserves to be in the conversation, no doubt, but this ranking feels like it is based on what they all think he CAN be, not what he actually is yet. He’s one more major injury or concussion away – in an offense that consistently puts him at risk – from prematurely ending his career.
#17 – Matt Ryan 99.1/4,719 yards/32 TD/14 Int/.023 Int Per Att
#19 – Joe Flacco 87.7/3,817 yards/22 TD/10 Int/.019 Int Per Att
#23 – Andrew Luck 76.5/4,374 yards/23 TD/15 Int/.028 Int Per Att
Ryan is pretty consistent – at least during the regular season – so no real issues with his ranking although he has to be a little perturbed about being behind RGIII when he’s done it for 6 years. Flacco got a huge boost as you would expect by winning a Super Bowl – he was #74 in last year’s list. Luck falls into the same category as RGIII in that what he did as a rookie was remarkable and he shows incredible promise, but to be in the top 25 already seems unjustified. Romo, for example, in his 11th year had a higher rating for the season than both Flacco and Luck, threw for more yards than both of them, and had more TDs.
#43 – Eli Manning 87.2/3,948 yards/26 TD/15 Int/.028 Int Per Att
Again, Romo is not even ranked despite having a higher rating, throwing for a thousand more yards, and 2 more TDs than Peyton’s younger brother. Manning also had only 4 fewer interceptions – the one stat everyone seems to want to talk about with Romo – and only a slightly better interceptions per attempt number than Romo (.028 versus .029). Didn’t the Giants end the season with the same record as the Cowboys? Didn’t they miss the playoffs too in 2012? This is probably about where Romo deserved to land. Yes, Eli has the 2 rings, but the past is supposedly not what we’re ranking here.
Here are the remaining QBs that made the top 100:
#46 – Cam Newton 86.2/3,869 yards/19 TD/12 Int/ .025 Int Per Att
#51 – Russell Wilson 100.0/3,118 yards/26 TD/10 Int/.025 Int Per Att
#61 – Ben Roethlisberger 97.0/3,265 yards/26 TD/8 Int/.018 Int Per Att
#76 – Matthew Stafford 79.8/4,967 yards/20 TD/17 Int/.023 Int Per Att
#81 – Colin Kaepernick 98.3/1,814 yards/10 TD/3 Int/.014 Int Per Att
So, Stafford with a rating of 79.8 who completed less than 60% of his passes is a better quarterback than Romo? And, Kaepernick who wasn’t even good enough to be the starter at the beginning of the year and threw for a whopping 1800 yards is too? Let’s see how he performs in his first full season before we anoint him as Top 100.
For the record, here is Romo’s stat line for last season:
#?? – Tony Romo 90.5/4,903 yards/28 TD/19 Int/.029 Int Per Att
That represents the highest number of yards Romo has ever thrown for in a season, the third most TDs in a season in his career, and the third highest completion percentage for a season in his career – all while having a very suspect offensive line and a non-existent running game. In 2010, Tony was ranked #72 in the top 100. In 2011, he fell to #91. In 2012, he fell out completely. But, his level of play has remained fairly consistent and among the “good” quarterbacks in the league.
We had an unusually high influx of new talent in 2012 and that likely pushed Romo out, but no one can tell me that he isn’t among the top 100 best players. He’s maddeningly inconsistent at times and has a knack for throwing that killer interception at just the wrong moment, but there can be no doubt he is one of the more talented quarterbacks in the NFL.
It’s a stupid, arbitrary list that basically gives us all something to talk about during the long, dry off season. Romo could likely care less about this or any other ranking. But, maybe he should. If I were Tony Romo, this would light a fire under me. I would keep this ranking taped to my locker to remind me every time I stepped on to the field that my NFL peers don’t consider me to be very good. I would burn with the heat of a thousand fires to prove them wrong. Cowboy fans should hope this provides him a little extra motivation. Until he takes this team to the playoffs or dare I say to a Super Bowl, he will continue to be disrespected. Make ’em pay, Tony! Make ’em pay! Go Cowboys!