It has become popular as of late to rank NFL quarterbacks. Some do it in tiers while others make distinctions with words like “elite.” Many people neglect to give Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo credit for his accomplishments, but he is clearly one of the top level QBs in the league.
It’s become sickening to see where we expect quarterbacks to be. If quarterbacks don’t throw for 4,500 yards and 35-40 touchdowns a season then they aren’t very good. We have been spoiled with Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.
Recently NFL insiders, which included general managers, evaluators, head coaches, position coaches and top executives, ranked each quarterback. Romo ranked eighth categorized as “Tier Two”, alongside Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson and Eli Manning.
I’ve heard the arguments against Romo before. He’s labeled as a choker who can’t finish. When critical situations come up, he crumbles. The Cowboys would be nowhere without Romo. It’s unfair to throw out everything that he’s done and simply focus on his mistakes.
Let’s not forget that Peyton Manning has a 11-12 playoff record and has eight one-and-done appearances in the playoffs. He looked like a mere mortal when he had to go up against great defenses like the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. If not for Rex Grossman giving him the win on a silver platter, Manning still wouldn’t have a title.
Do you even know what Romo’s stats look like in the fourth quarter?
Since 2004, he’s completed the most passes in the fourth quarter with 596. He leads in completion percentage at 63 percent. His yards-per-attempt also leads the league at 8.1. He’s passed for 7,618 yards which is second only to Brees. He has maintained a 100.2 QB rating which is behind only Rodgers. Over that span he’s only thrown 23 interceptions which is tied for 8th fewest. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is almost 3:1 in the fourth quarter. That doesn’t sound like a choker to me.
I can argue that Manning and Brady have been less important than Romo to their respective squads. The same Denver Broncos team won a playoff game with Tim Tebow at the helm. Tom Brady was lost for the season in 2008 and that team went 11-5 and barely missed the playoffs.
Romo went down with a broken collarbone in in 2010 and his team went 6-10. The reason for the difference in records was the poor construction of the team. You can have the best quarterback in the league, but if he doesn’t get any help on defense then he won’t win meaningful games.
The New Orleans Saints led he league in turnover differential when Brees won his Super Bowl. Defense has been the foundation of quarterback success. Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning were also beneficiaries of great defensive play that resulted in championship seasons.
Now I’m not doubting that these guys didn’t make outstanding plays because they did. They had a lot to do with winning the titles. I’m simply saying Romo hasn’t had nearly the help these other guys have.
There was a perfect example of Romo’s greatness last season as he faced the Broncos. He outplayed golden boy Peyton Manning as he threw for 509 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Manning’s defense made one play and all of a sudden his play is brilliant and Romo is ridiculed and his great performance is tossed aside like it never mattered. His talent can match any other quarterback in the league.
A lot of people have deeper issues with Romo. More thoughts on that can be found here. His career has been outstanding and might land him in the Hall of Fame one day. A closer look at that topic can be found here.
Romo may never get the credit he truly deserves. The perception is that he’s an underachiever, but that’s completely wrong. He can’t continue to be blamed for the his under-performing defense. He’s an elite quarterback and deserves to be treated like one.