Dallas Cowboys: Why Tony Romo isn’t a 2nd Tier Quarterback


Less than a week remains before the Dallas Cowboys head to Oxnard, California for training camp, and it’s official: Quarterback Tony Romo is a “second-tier” quarterback in the National Football League.

Thank goodness, because I was beginning to wonder when that key designation would be made public for all to see and absorb.

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Now, with all sarcasm aside, let’s discuss this a little further.

To start with, I get the fact that a mainstream outlet, such as ESPN, the rightful owners of this opinion, are interested in clicks on their website just like – oh, how about us here at The Landry Hat? I’ll also add that Romo’s status in this week’s poll is by no means an insult or anything. It just happens to be incorrect, that’s all.

In fact, after looking over this piece over about 20 minutes, I actually agreed with approximately ninety-percent of it. You can view this poll, its criteria and other details here.

I suppose that what bothers me the most about this “tier” thing is the description of what it takes to actually be a “tier-one” quarterback. The description is as follows:

"Tier 1 quarterbacks can carry their teams week after week and contend for championships without as much help."

Are we actually suggesting that Romo does not carry his team week in and week out? Anyway, Romo’s grouping is described as follows:

"Tier 2 quarterbacks are less consistent and need more help, but good enough to figure prominently into a championship equation."

See, not exactly insulting, but Romo’s abilities deserve more respect than this, don’t they?

Let me ask this question: Where exactly would the Cowboys have been without Romo during the last four to six seasons? I’m not sure exactly where myself, but I’ll just say that there would probably have been a few top ten selections in some NFL drafts in recent years.

I’m not sure that question was pondered too much by those participating in this survey. This is fine as well.

I also don’t think that Romo’s franchise passing records – too many for me to name here – were factored in either.

Now, clear is the fact that simply winning a Super Bowl, by itself, doesn’t qualify one as a “tier-one” professional passer. Otherwise, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks wouldn’t be in the same category as Romo, period.

How many times have you seen Wilson carry a team with his arm to a victory?

In Wilson’s defense, he’s never really had to, at least not with catchy terms like “The 12th Man,” “Beastmode” and “The Legion of Boom” standing at his back. He’s a smart guy who knows his game and uses it wisely.

But are you certain that with a game on the line and just a couple minutes left on the clock you’re more comfortable with Wilson lining up under center than Romo?

I’m definitely not.

Wilson finished eighth overall in the voting, placing him as the second quarterback in Tier 2.

Romo ended up ninth – not bad at all, but I would have expected a top-six rating for the Dallas passer.

The top passer in Tier 2?

Phillip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers.

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and waddles around the pocket like a duck, he’s simply not a better quarterback than Romo, period. The Dallas field general just has too many other skills to bring to the table. I’ll still admit that just about every blimp-like pass that Rivers has ever completed has truly amazed me.

I have no issue at all with guys like Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos or even Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints landing in Tier 1. These truly are elite NFL passers, period.

But what about Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers in Tier 1? Again, Super Bowl wins alone are not the sole criteria for a top-level rating here. To me, this is a borderline call, at best, and if I have to choose between Roethlisberger and Romo in a big game, given equivalent supporting cast, I honestly would take Romo given his entire skill set.

See, I never held Romo’s botched snap in the 2007 NFC Wild Card playoffs in Seattle against him as a quarterback. It was a most unfortunate special teams play that obviously ended a Dallas season and the coaching career of the great Bill Parcells.

But it was just a special teams play, period.

Romo has made mistakes, for sure.

But he’s also won some huge games for the Cowboys, even if one of those wins has never come in the divisional round of the playoffs or later. I agree that no matter how you dice, spice or slice it, Romo’s legacy is diluted until he surpasses the conference championship round just prior to the Super Bowl.

Then again, I’m of the belief that even if Romo won a couple of Super Bowls in the latter stages of his highly productive career, there would still be some that would consider his efforts second-class – he is a Dallas Cowboys quarterback, after all.

I also believe that if Romo didn’t have to deal with poorly designed offenses, less than dominant running games, broken clavicles, punctured lungs, bruised thumbs and herniated discs during the season, there’s no question he’d be listed where he belongs.

Romo, thanks to his laundry list of gaudy accomplishments and current abilities, is a tier-one quarterback beyond any shadow of a doubt. Quarterbacks who can deliver MVP-caliber performances, like Romo did last season, simply don’t belong anywhere else.

Next: Dallas Cowboys: Could team sign this once elite pass rusher?