SBM Sports: Tony Romo is Elite. Deal With It.

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Time to solve the Tony Romo riddle.

Depending on who you talk to, Tony Romo is either the worst quarterback ever, a good QB who’s incredibly un-clutch, or an All-Pro capable of leading a team to a ring (that’s mostly Cowboys fans).

Before really digging into it, I had Romo rated as a quality fantasy football option, and someone who’s easily meme-able. But what’s the truth? I did some legwork Googling to find out. There’s a lot of Romo hate out there. But looking at the numbers leads you to only one conclusion. First, my rationale:

Romo in the clutch

I know what you’re thinking. Especially because this is the defining play of his career thus far.

CowboysFumble

That’s hard to overcome. At the time, the Cowboys were down just one point to the Seattle Seahawks in the 2007 playoffs with just 1:19 to play. Romo, the team’s placekick holder fumbled the snap, and the rest is history.

But consider these facts:

Tony Romo is the fifth highest rated passer of all time.

Tony Romo has the highest fourth-quarter passer rating of any active QB.

Here’s where critics will say “those are garbage time stats…that’s how Matt Stafford racked up his numbers.”

I have two rebuttals.

First, screw you for bringing up Matt Stafford. I’m a Lions fan. I know Stafford’s numbers are inflated.

Second, Romo is the second-highest rated active QB when the Cowboys are down or up by seven points or less (Aaron Rodgers is first).

Still not convinced? Romo led the Cowboys to four comeback wins last season.

What else do you want when rating the clutchness of a QB?

Let’s take a look at his numbers

Romo racked up 4,903 yards last season. Even if you believe that number is inflated because of the pass-heavy nature of the NFL, you have to give him his due for finishing third overall. Even in a passing league, he’s the third best passer. It’s not like he’s just chucking it all over the field either. He finished fourth in completion percentage (though he did tie Drew Brees for leading the league in interceptions…if he sucks for that, Brees does too).

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Even with an injury limiting the team’s top rusher (DeMarco Murray), Romo managed to produce all season. He led the Cowboys to a postseason-deciding game in Week 17, something Eli Manning couldn’t do at that point last season.

What is the beef with a QB who puts up numbers, and does so in the fourth quarter of close games?

That’s why I say, despite his faults, you’re crazy if you don’t rate Romo among the elite at his position.

Romo falls victim to the same media-driven slander that all great players before him have faced. Critics love to say a player can’t win the big one…until the moment he does. The same was said of LeBron James, Peyton Manning, Alex Rodriguez and more.  Even Magic Johnson was labeled “Tragic Johnson” after winning a ring because of a bad performance in the Finals. Romo’s fellow players buy into this narrative, omitting him from NFL.com’s Top 100 player ranking of 2013.

This. Makes. No. Sense.

I don’t know what team you root for, but chances are you’d trade your QB for Tony Romo. The rumors of his ineptitude have been greatly exaggerated.

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  • Adonis

    This is all about expectation

    He has to win a Super Bowl, to get the critics off his back.

    If we are being honest, he is a great Quarterback, but when it matters, he has not gotten it done.

    Same with Matt Ryan.

    I think both can lead their team to a Superbowl. Atlanta before Dallas, because organizationally & team wise. They are better top to bottom.

    Winning a Superbowl though, as we have seen in the past 7 years, it is about timing, greatness & straight up LUCK.

    Tony Romo gets a bad rap & I am HERE for it.

    Imagine if Peyton & LeBron still ringless. Boy Oh Boy.

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

      expectations do matter exactly why we just gonna let Phillip Rivers cook the rest of his career without ever living up to his initial potential

      • Adonis

        @Tristan

        Excellent point. However Rothlisburger & Eli like Kobe inherited an excellent situation.

        Giants & Steeler already was poppin’ historically before those QBs got there. So was LA.

        Rivers reminds me of a poor man’s LeBron.

        Cleveland & San Diego were trash organizationally, and San Diego’s fan base is a not exactly Philadelphia, so they don’t put pressure on ownership to be about that winning life.

        No excuse for Rivers to be trash & irrelevant these days.

  • Mr_SD

    Romo's not even top 5…he's barely top 10..lol

    • Adonis

      @Mr_SD

      who is in your top 10 active QBs.

      Brady, Rodgers, Eli, Peyton, RGIII, Wilson, Luck, Ryan, Roethlisberger, Flacco, Brees

      It is funny how I just gave Flacco the Eli Manning treatment.

      If Romo is not #10. You would put all of these guys ahead of him? Seriously?

      Think like an objective observer, not a cowboy hater. Tony Romo is #11 or #12???

    • http://learninglover.com/blog AfterMath

      Lets consider this

      Top Tier
      Brady, Manning, Brees, Rodgers,

      Better
      Big Ben, Flacco, Eli,

      Same Class
      Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Matthew Stafford

      I wouldn't put players like Cam Newton, RG3, Wilson, Dalton, or CK into this conversation because they're so young and don't have enough on their resume to be considered in this class.

      But thats at least 7 QBs that I'd put above him. And then 10 who you can argue are better. And if you count the young crop of QBs then there's a good argument that he's in the bottom half of the league. I doubt anybody (except a pure Cowboys hater) would argue that Romo is worse than ALL these QBs, but I'd definitely say that the fact that we can have this argument doesn't put Romo into the elite class.

      I mean we can argue about Eli/Ben/Flacco being elite or not elite, but all have done things that Rivers/Romo/Ryan have not. They've led their teams to the playoffs and WON in the playoffs. That counts for a lot, so you can talk numbers all day. Some of these guys aren't going to put up numbers cause they're in different systems with different (bad) coordinators etc. But these guys showed their gumption and won when it mattered. Romo et al have not.

      • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

        I wouldn’t put schaub there

      • Joe Sargent

        I won't argue with your Top Tier class, but Romo is elevated to the "Better" QBs IMO. Ryan too.

        Romo is better than Rivers (declining), Schaub (never that good), and Stafford (inflated stats, inconsistent).

        • AfterMath

          Romo's in a class of QBs who can put up numbers and win games when it doesn't matter, but hasn't shown anything late in the season and in the postseason. Say what you want about the guys in my better class, but they've all won in the postseason. In fact, they have histories of winning in the postseason. Before last year, Flacco would be in the same category as Romo, but last year was all him (and Boldin). In order for me to put Romo above Flacco, I'm gonna need to see some late December and January numbers.

          Same goes for Ryan. In fact, I had Ryan and Flacco as neck and neck until Flacco made the promise to the Ravens and delivered. Remember when everybody was talking about how average Eli was. You can argue all you want about numbers and stats, but Eli has two rings on his fingers that show what he can do when it counts.

          What does Romo have? Romo has been in contention to win the division for at least the last two years and both years lost the game. Until he shows he can do something I can't put him in the same class as people who have actually done something.

  • http://learninglover.com/blog AfterMath

    How clutch is this
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kl-y-NAOfXs

    Yeah, you keep making that argument.

    • Joe Sargent

      Guy made some bad throws. Like I said, he led the league – along with Drew Brees – in interceptions.

      BUT

      Most of those clips were Redskins crip walking into the end zone, lol. Defense could have helped him out that day.

  • Douglas

    I wouldn't grant Romo elite status; he's a really, REALLY good quarterback at best.

    I can't say that I've actively followed the guy's career, but I honestly cannot recall any earth shattering, career defining performances of his which would cause me to consider him elite. That term is reserved for Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, (pre-injury) Peyton Mannning. Those guys make plays which clearly distinguish them from the competition. Romo? Not so much.

    If he can surpass last season's performance/stats, and manage to advance the Boys deep into the playoffs, then – and only then – would I even begin to give his application any considerable attention. Until then, he'll remain a really solid qb

    • Joe Sargent

      (pre-injury) Manning was called un-clutch by just about everyone. Surprised you'd include him in that list.

      I agree, most of this will be erased by a deep playoff run, but that will have as much to do with defense, special teams, and coaching as Romo himself.

      • AfterMath

        You can argue that Manning is unclutch, but a) he's done it at least once (when it mattered), which is more than Romo. and b) some of that stuff isn't on Manning. I think back to when they lost to Pittsburgh in the playoffs (I think it was 2005), but the freakin kicker missed a chipshot FG to win the game.

        Now, that's me getting defensive of Manning, but the point remains that Manning won at least one and has been to two. How many playoff games (let alone SBs) has Romo been to? Has he even made the postseason in the last 5 years?

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

    Nah Joe. Nah. If Tony romo was an NBA player he’d avg 20 ppg, good but not great. Romo has never been in the MVP conversation and 1-6 in win or go home games

    • Joe Sargent

      Does that include playoff games? If so, every QB will have an artificially bad record. Winning championships is hard, and it's been passed between the same group of QBs for over a decade.

      Just getting to 7 deciding games is an accomplishment IMO. Matt Stafford is 0-0 for instance. Plus, you can't put the losses all on him without recognizing his individual performances. The guy has put up numbers.

      • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

        Playoff Record of QBs

        Tom Brady: 17-7
        Ben Roethlesburger Playoff Record: 10-4
        Joe Flacco Playoff Record: 9-4
        Peyton Manning: 9-11
        Eli Manning: 8-3
        Aaron Rodgers: 6-3
        Drew Brees: 5-4

        Tony Romo: 1-3
        Philip Rivers: 3-4
        Matt Ryan: 1-4
        Matt Schaub: 1-1
        Matt Stafford: 0-1
        Jay Cutler: 1-1
        Carson Palmer: 0-2

        Notice the difference in the classes of QBs. Maybe Stafford is not on Romo's level, but I think this supports my earlier argument.
        Also of note: Mark Sanchez: 4-2, but he's been horrendous in the regular season so he's not really in this conversation, but I thought worth a mention.

        • Adonis

          @Aftermath

          You are puttin’ in work today. But you got me rooting for Romo now to get to the playoffs and win a playoff game.

          If he got to the NFC championship, that would definitely quiet the critics for a lil bit.

        • Joe Sargent

          Don’t fall victim to using playoff record as the only indicator of “eliteness.” Romo has put up elite numbers…the nature of football puts so much of the outcome in the hands of others. As said above, Peyton lost a playoff game when a kicker shanked an easy one. Brady lost a SB on the top of David Tyree’s helmet.

          Despite the fact that the QB has the ball every offensive play, he’s off the field half the time AND special teams plays its part.

          If you look at the numbers, overall and in the fourth quarter, Romo delivers more often than he doesn’t.

  • http://twitter.com/A_Wynn8 @A_Wynn8

    I have 2 things to say about this article:

    1. No I would not trade my QB (Matt Stafford) for Romo

    2. 24-0 comeback by who, the Lions…all thanks to Tony Romo's Clutchness

    #CASECLOSED

    • Adonis

      @A_Wynn8

      Forgot about that game. Very damning

    • Joe Sargent

      Honestly, I'd trade Stafford for Romo. Stafford, to me, isn't a franchise QB. He's inconsistent (seemingly due to bad mechanics), and hasn't made anyone better like Romo with Miles Austin (was never that good) and Laurent Robinson (11 TDs, got a big contract with Jacksonville). Stafford's numbers look way better bc he has Megatron and a horrible defense. The means the Lions are always down and he has to pass a lot.

      On that note, that Cowboys game had as much to do with the defense as Romo. He put up 30 points, which is enough to win.

      • AfterMath

        That game gives the whole argument on both sides. Romo as one player put up at least 35 points. 21 for the Cowboys and 14 for the Lions.

  • hhh

    speaking fantasy wise…i'd ride with Romo as a top 10 QB…because he'll put up the points, and riding with him last year i got to 3rd place

    that being said, everyone said what i was gonna say. When my QB (Sanchez) has a better playoff record that Romo?

    Romo ain't elite…he's #10-#11 QB. his track record shows that he'll put up numbers…but he's so so in crunch time

  • Streetz

    Eli Manning did lead his team to 2 super bowls in 4 years, beat the same cowboys to get in the playoffs, is undefeated in jerry World, and technically did get his game to a deciding game 17 game. Cowboys had the luck of facing their direct tiebreaker in the last game.

    Romo is good. Elite? Nah. Hed be better served out of Dallas so he can flourish properly

    • Obvious

      ElI Manning is straight trash, I do not believe in luck, but it was either luck or the NFL was rigged for those years.

  • James

    Season stats mean nothing once a player is distinguished. So how much he threw and this one threw is pointless. I watched 80′s and 90′s sports I can’t tell you off the dome whose stats ruled in each sport. But I can tell you who won championships or had a great clutch run in the post season. Romo isn’t a bum. He’s good but he’s like a ace pitcher when he plays a good team he always loses or has a a very vanilla game especially when it counts. (Late 90′s Yankees did this during their run).

    Once it’s clear you aren’t 2nd division you must make your dent in the 1st division. It doesn’t mean you are a bum if you can’t beat the other A1 players. But it will leave a mark (Reggie Jacskon felt this way till he hit 3 home runs in the World Series after all that’s where the term Mr October came from). This is we’re Romo is. He’s nice but when it comes to playing against other A1 teams in those crucial moments sometimes he is the reason the team lost.

    Hey Chris Webber called a timeout his team didn’t have and it cost Michigan a NCAA D1 bball title but Webber was no bum. However mentally he cracked and that’s the pressure that the other A1 players seem to breeze right through.

    That’s what this is about, the best of the best and seasonsal stats are pointless titles are played in each sport with that sports best teams. Best D, best pitching, running game, best big men, you aren’t playing two or three heavily flawed teams in which your numbers will go up (even when a playoff bound team isn’t known for something great they shore that up in the playoffs).

    Greats are expected to challenge this. As they get to each level it gets harder we want to see them play better. Romo at times doesn’t seem like a top 5 passer when he needs to be that guy. You don’t have to be the best all year you have to be the best at the moment it counts the most.

  • LBoogie

    My prediction is Cowboys make it to the Super Bowl this year, but will Romo deliver when it's needed most? Yes, I am a die hard Cowboy's fan! And the bashing starts in 5, 4, 3, 2….

  • jdoubleu

    Fantasy-wise, I'm taking Romo over both Mannings, Matt Ryan, and Flacco simply because I think Dez is gonna have a monster year. The remaining QBs will have to spread targets among their guys too often to really be a sure thing.

    But IRL, I liken the elite QB thing to the top 5 NBA PGs. Those top 4 spots are usually not up for debate. But that 5th spot is what'll cause mad dissension. It becomes a discussion of stats comparions, W/L shares, popularity, 4th qtr shot-to-assist ratios, etc. So to answer the question of is Romo an elite QB? Long as he's in Dallas, people will continue to overwhelmingly say no. I also take into account that football isn't played in series as w/ basketball. You get 1 game, 1 shot. It's way harder to make it to the SB than it is to make it to the NBA finals. So IMO, it's easier to ignore hard stats for a QB and go purely based on playoff wins and SB appearances/wins as the barometer of elite vs. good vs. just average.

    And lastly, if you look at difference between the un-debateable list of elite QBs and then the rest of them, you have to take equally look at the caliber of offensive talent; mainly receiving. The amount of talent Rodgers and Brees has had at their disposable is a HUGE leap from the Cowboys.
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  • iamnotakata

    See the way this post is worded, leads readers to believe what your saying actually makes sense but….all that doesn’t matter if you can’t win or produce when it counts….what I have concluded from your stats are that Romo is a Ferrari with a Ford engine…my opinion still stands that TR is a trash as* QB…

  • http://www.opinionatedmale.com cortonio

    Tony Romo while having pretty good TD-INT numbers, and passing for 4,000+ yards 3 of the last 4 years hasn't delivered when it counted. He had a damn good dallas team in 2007 that went 13-3 and had T.O, Jason whitten, and patrick crayton combine for over 3,000 yards receiving, Marion Barber rushed for 10 TD that year and still went one and done in the playoffs. He has had some pretty good teams over the years but he has found a reason to screw it up one way or another. All he had to do was beat washington and they would have made the playoffs and he went out and threw 3 picks (2 in the 4th quarter) and completed well under 60% of his passes. And the fact that he hasn't gone to the playoffs since 2009 isn't good either. Elite Qb's are usually reserved for top 5 status: brady, rodgers, brees, peyton manning are already top 4 whereas roethlisberger, flacco, eli manning, matt ryan could easily be the 5th and they've all had more success than romo. Sorry he is pretty good ELITE he isn't
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  • Obvious

    I agree with EVERYTHING IN THE ARTICLE. This is a first. Other Cowboy fans who say we need another Quarterback are just flat out stupid. What we need are wide receivers who can run routes and are consistent. There is one quarterback in the league better than Romo, and that’s the prototype for Quarterbacking, Tom Brady.

  • Velvet Jones

    No, what Dallas needs is an O-Line that consistently run block, and keep Romo in the pocket so he isn't scrambling and making ill-advised passes. He reminds me of Brett Favre in that when he's hot his hot, when he's cold, he's throwing INTs. Those INTs usually are when he under pressure, scrambling out of the pocket, trying to extend the play. At times, he can extend a play like none other, but then when the Heavens do not align for him, it's an INT at the wrong time in the game. All QB's make bad plays, throw INTs, throw bad passes, but as a Dallas fan…it seems when TR does it, it's momentum shifting mistakes. Again, we need a line to consistently block for this fool, give him more time to read the field, so he isn't running around all the time. Commit more to the running game, and then pick the opposing team apart with Dez and Witten. But then our DEF has to not give up a shit load of points either. Last year was the first year where I could say Romo didn't screw the season for the Boys. It was our D and the inability for them to hold on to a lead!

  • High_Five_Ghost

    Elite(ism) should be defined by being in the 90th percentile, or said differently, the top 10%.

    That being said Tony Romo vs. everyone in America who has or thinks that they can play quarterback = Tony Romo (elite)

    Tony Romo vs. 31 other NFL starting quarterbacks….well that’s an easy math problem
    10% of 32 = 3.2 or (3)…..hmmmm….lets see
    1.Peyton Manning ?
    2.Tom Brady ?

    3.Tony Romo????….well that means

    4.Drew Brees
    5.Ben Rothlesberger
    6.Aaron Rodgers

    Tony Romo in no way sucks but sometimes simple numbers speak more truth than stats.

  • ugdado

    Wow

    Finally the general public is showing signs of getting over its lifetime fuck of ignorabullshititude. if ya na’mean

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