Protecting Tony Romo
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Your argument against Tony Romo is about as deep and thoughtful as Lindsay Lohan’s regard for societal rules. It goes like this:
He’s a choker who’s won only playoff game.
There is no second verse.
Of course, applying that shallow philosophy also leads you to believe that Trent Dilfer was a better quarterback than Dan Marino because he won a Super Bowl. That Scott Williams surely was a better NBA power forward than Karl Malone. And that Greg Norman totally sucked at golf because he blew a back-nine lead that one time at The Masters.
Life isn’t black and white, and you know better. There are countless hues of gray. There are varying degrees of success. “If you ain’t first, you’re last” may work for “Ricky Bobby,” but tell that to your wife when the meat loaf she made this week isn’t quite as good as the meat loaf she made last week. To rate your dinners on a scale of only “good” or “bad” is lazy, irresponsible and, yes, dangerous.
So too with all aspects of your existence, especially sports. Here’s betting in your opinion there aren’t merely two types – winners or losers – of women, or cars, or bands, or beer. or sex, or days. Then why should it be that way with your quarterback?
The problem with painting using only two contradictory colors is that, in this case, you’re underrating the third-best quarterback in the 53-year history of the Cowboys and one of the Top 10 currently in the NFL. You’re so busy grumbling and dismissing Romo’s failures that you’ve forgotten a time when you were infected with Anthony Wright and Clint Stoerner and Ryan Leaf and Drew Henson and Quincy Carter and …
My argument for Tony Romo goes like this:
He’s had less support around him on offense than Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, and I can prove it.
In 10 seasons Staubach made six Pro Bowls, won two Super Bowls and 11 playoff games. How? Because, just on offense, he played alongside 11 players who made Pro Bowls and two – Rayfield Wright and Tony Dorsett – who wound up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In 12 seasons Aikman made six Pro Bowls, won three Super Bowls and 11 playoff games. How? Because, on offense, he played with 10 players who made Pro Bowls and three – Larry Allen, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin – who would up in the Hall of Fame.
In Romo’s seven seasons he’s made three Pro Bowls and won only the lone playoff game against the Eagles in the 2009 season. How? Because he’s played with only seven players who have made Pro Bowls, three of which – Terrell Owens, Marion Barber and Miles Austin – were selected just once. Though Owens and tight end Jason Witten have impressive statistical credentials, Romo isn’t assured of playing alongside anyone that will wind up in Canton.
Behind Witten, Romo has consistently been his team’s second-best player. Staubach had at least one Pro Bowl offensive linemen every year while in ’95, for example, Aikman was protected by Pro Bowlers Mark Tuinei, Nate Newton, Ray Donaldson and Larry Allen. The other lineman – Erik Williams – made four Pro Bowls in his career.
Romo’s offensive line? He’s played behind 0 Pro Bowlers the last two seasons and only two – Andre Gurode and Leonard Davis – since 2009.
Said Aikman in a February interview on 105.3 The Fan:
“I’m a big fan of Tony’s and I’ve said it all along. He’s a special player. Unfortunately, not enough people recognize that. … I know that people keep asking, ‘Hey, can Tony Romo lead this team to a Super Bowl?’ And I believe that he can.”
There is public outcry over the $55 million guaranteed to Romo as part of his new contract extension. I don’t get it. So because your car needs a new oil pan you stop buying the best tires you can afford? Fortunately, Jerry Jones doesn’t think that way, either.
He’s locked up Romo, because he knows that’s the Cowboys’ best chance to win. Stats don’t mean everything, but bad quarterbacks don’t sneak their way to good quarterback ratings. Nor vice-versa. Romo’s career rating is 95.6 and he’s thrown 86 more touchdowns than interceptions in 93 career starts.
You don’t want to hear this, but both those numbers are better than Staubach (83.4, +44) and Aikman (81.6, +24). And you also don’t want to hear this, but Romo is not the Cowboys’ problem.
If Romo the holder wouldn’t have bobbled the waxy, slick ball in Seattle in ’06 he’d have only two playoff wins. But I know, he led the NFL with 19 interceptions last season and his horrible-decision-worse-throw with the NFC East on the line in Washington is inexcusable and indefensible.
Truth is, Romo consistently plays at a level higher than his offensive teammates. In other words, the Cowboys don’t go 8-8 because of Romo. He leads them to 8-8 despite inferior talent all around him.
But if you see the world without a color TV and only in black-and-white, you’ll likely continue to consider him a choker and a loser. When you’re not fawning over that noted theologian Lohan, that is.
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