Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman suffered more than his share of concussions during the twilight of his career. Apparently, those blows to the head are starting to take a toll on the best passer in Cowboys history. On Tuesday, Aikman made a crazy statement regarding current Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
“I think Tony already is a better quarterback than I was,” Aikman said. “I know how quarterbacks are judged but as far as his play-making ability and the things that he is capable of doing, he is a far more athletic quarterback, capable of making more plays than I ever was able to.”
Romo may have the best stats of any Dallas quarterback, but that certainly doesn’t mean he is the best quarterback in Cowboys history. Romo may have 149 touchdowns in just 77 starts compared to Aikman’s 165 scores in 165 starts, but the two are nowhere near comparable.
In his 77 starts, Romo has thrown 2,592 passes to Aikman’s 4,715 in 165 starts. Aikman averaged only 28.5 passes per start while Romo has thrown 33.6 passes per start. The difference in numbers Romo throws 17% more passes every game than Aikman did in his Hall of Fame career. The only difference that matters is the Cowboys won those games with Aikman at the helm.
Sure, Romo has more 300-yard passing games and 4,000-yard passing seasons than Aikman and fellow Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, but Romo isn’t the player that either of those guys were. The Cowboys won because of Staubach; the guy’s nickname was “Captain Comeback” for Tom Landry’s sake. Aikman also proved his greatness by rescuing the Cowboys and coming through when his team needed him.
The main thing about Staubach and Aikman that separates them from Romo is the Cowboys never lost because of them. The Cowboys have lost on several occasions because of Romo and that’s why he’s not better than Aikman, regardless of what the modest legend says.
However, Aikman’s final comments provide an interesting segue to the next chapter in Romo’s career.
“He has a good team around him,” Aikman said. “Hopefully — and I believe this will happen — I believe that he will win a Super Bowl before he is done playing.”
Aikman had a tremendous team around him; the 1992 Cowboys are arguably the greatest team of all time. Aikman had a Hall of Fame running back in Emmitt Smith and a Hall of Fame receiver in Michael Irvin to make plays on offense and a stifling defense that ranked first in the NFL.
To this point in his career, Romo hasn’t had a running back like that and his receivers are just now hitting their stride as well. In 2012, Romo and the Cowboys have no such excuse. Romo has a workhorse running back in DeMarco Murray and a great third-down back in Felix Jones. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are one of the top receiver tandems in the league and Jason Witten is arguably the best tight end in the game.
So what Aikman said has some truth to it. Romo is capable of being a better quarterback than Aikman, but first he’s got to fix his mistakes that cost the Cowboys valuable wins. As mentioned, Aikman never caused the Cowboys to lose in the prime of his career.
Ultimately, Romo is going to have to win some Super Bowls to be compared to Staubach and Aikman. The two of them are responsible for all five Lombardi Trophies in Dallas and that’s the way quarterbacks are measured, regardless of fairness.
Aikman’s comments may have been kind and Romo has received similar remarks from Staubach, but it’s not the truth. Romo is not a better quarterback than Aikman or Staubach and won’t be until he makes winning a habit in Dallas again.