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Grading the 'Boys, Part XI: Quarterback Tony Romo | The DC Times

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Grading the ‘Boys, Part XI: Quarterback Tony Romo

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Thus far, we have dissected the ’09 play of the Cowboys players at every position other than quarterback.  We saved the best for last.

Grading quarterback is much different than doing so for the other positions in that statistics, while plentiful for the position, are less indicative of a quarterback’s success than for other players.  The primary responsibility of a quarterback is to lead his team to victory, no matter what it takes.  Some quarterbacks put up huge numbers, but simply are not winners.

Tony Romo is not one of those quarterbacks.  Yes, he has the ability to put up flashy stats, but he is also a tremendous leader.  While that statement is far from a consensus opinion, particularly among ill-informed fans, we whole-heartedly believe it to be the case.  If you doubt the commitment of Romo to the Dallas Cowboys, read here.

Nonetheless, we have compiled a wide range of statistics and analysis on Romo’s play in 2009.  Some of these numbers are taken from previous articles, and some are unique.  These numbers (representing on-field play), though, will only make up half of our final grade  for Romo.  The other half will consist of leadership and intangibles.


  • Tony Romo

On-field Play: A

There is really no doubting that Tony Romo is an immensely talented quarterback.  In 2009, he threw for 4,483 yards and 26 touchdowns.  More importantly, however, he threw only nine interceptions all season, including just six over the final 14 games.  Romo also fumbled just six times–less than any other season of his career.  This ability to protect the football was the primary reason for the success of the Cowboys last season.

Below are a few notes regarding Romo’s success in various situations last season.  You can find charts containing this information at the bottom of the article.

Tony Romo Passer Rating Over the Field

Leadership/Intangibles:  A-

Again, Romo is a very good leader.  While not an extremely vocal player, he lets his play speak for itself.  He is also perhaps the team’s hardest-working player.  When that label goes to your team’s biggest superstar, you know the path is set for the rest of the players to follow.

Overall Grade:  A (94.0)

Romo will never be able to fully escape criticism–that simply comes with the territory of playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.  However, to those watching carefully, it is apparent that the Cowboys have secured one of the league’s top signal-callers.

Without Romo, where would the Cowboys be?  Sometimes it is difficult to realize how special someone is until you lose them.  Michael Irvin perhaps put it best when he said:

Can we get Drew Bledsoe back out here (for) just a week so you guys can really fall back in love with Tony?  Let’s put Drew Bledsoe back out here, because sometimes when you have a pretty girl for awhile, you forget how pretty she is. But when you throw the ugly girl next to her, you say, ‘No, I’m really doing well.’ Maybe we need to bring Drew out so we know we’re really doing well.

Irvin is right.  Let’s not let Romo’s consistency tarnish our love for what we brings to the table year in and year out.  To further jog your memory on what it is like to have an “ugly girl” at quarterback, take a look at the list of Cowboys’ starting quarterbacks between Troy Aikman and Romo.

Quincy Carter
Anthony Wright
Ryan Leaf
Clint Stoerner
Chad Hutchinson
Vinny Testaverde
Drew Henson
Drew Bledsoe
Brad Johnson

Anyone else think Tony Romo is a little more “beautiful” right about now?

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19 Responses to Grading the ‘Boys, Part XI: Quarterback Tony Romo

  1. Jonny Danger says:

    the list of QB’s between Troy and Tony still makes my stomach turn. I was furious when Dallas went after Quincy Carter and Ryan Leaf was a further slap in the face. Dallas fell hard with no QB and the people that want to question Romo’s commitment or success in the league are either blind,retarded or just have some real hatred for the guy. I believe he can help us win another Super Bowl and if not I have a lot of respect for him and greatly appreciate him igniting excitement back in the team and helping us become a contender again… Is it game day yet!?!?

  2. The fans who disrespect Romo just don’t know football. Saying he is not a Tom Brady/Peyton Manning type is one thing, but to say he doesn’t deserve to be the starter for Dallas is just absurd.

  3. B. Tufte says:

    What an horrible list of players between Aikman and Romo, I do have to say, in regards to Carter, I didn’t like the fact of Dallas getting him in the first place, but just when he seemed to be making progress, and good progress at that, the Cowboys cut him, I was out of the country at the time, so maybe I missed something, but I thought it a move by Coach Parcells to bring in “his boy” Testaverde.

  4. Vince Grey says:

    History has shown that on rare occasions you can win an NFL title with a very average QB if all the stars align just right (Bears `63, Raven’s `00, Bucs `02), but that’s clearly the exception to the rule.

    I’m old enough to have seen every Cowboy QB since Craig Morton and I can tell you that Romo compares very favorably with Roger Staubach with his play, especially now that he’s learned that it’s ok to give up on a play and just throw it away at times. (Roger had that same issue early on.)

    I have absolute confidence in Tony as our QB. As long as we play good defense and the O-line holds up we’ll be well into the hunt for a SB.

  5. B. Tufte…No, Carter was cut because he tested positive for marijuana. Parcells immediately cut him.

  6. Good to see a realistic take on the situation. Seems everyone either is in love with Romo, or absolutely hates him, but I suppose it is that way with all Cowboys QBs.

  7. Pingback: Dallas Cowboys Times’ Final 2009 Offense Grades, Player Rankings - NFL Super Bowl Live Online

  8. Vince Grey says:

    Perception can be a strange and dangerous thing.

    To be honest, before the `92 playoffs, I was not a big Aikman fan. Seeing guys like Staubach, Elway, and Montana, I was of the impression that a great QB either put up big numbers, or led his team to several last second comebacks, or both.

    Aikman did none of that. In addition, he looked stiff and mechanical, plus he seemed to lock in on Novacek and Irvin exclusively. To me, it looked like the Cowboys offense was trying to hide and minimize Troy.

    Well of course, after those playoffs, and from then on, I realized how mistaken I was. Troy WAS mechanical, but in a very good way. The Cowboys didn’t need Aikman to put up big numbers or lead a lot of late game comebacks because they were rarely in that position. And, when he needed to step up and make plays with the passing game, he did.

    The Cowboys of today require Romo to do a lot more than Staubach and Aikman were asked to do in terms of every game production. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but it certainly needs to be considered when judging Romo as a QB.

  9. john coleman says:

    It amazes me all of the haters on Romo. I personally would like to see him be given just a tick more freedom. His first year was like a playground player and fun to watch. I like the turnover improvement last year, but he seemed tight. Maybe it’s just part of the maturation process. I would say he is a legitimate top 5 QB. I would like to see him take off every now and then. Just to keep the D honest. It’s hard to believe how many people don’t respect and acknowledge his pocket movement. If he wasn’t as elusive as he is, we would have given up twice the sacks.

  10. Good points from both of you. Great to have comments like these. Quick question for both of you–which QBs in the league would you prefer to have over Romo right now (take age into consideration)?

  11. craig kocay says:


    Excuse my laziness for not doing this myself, but i was thinking a really cool study would be to see how important a top 5 quarterback is to winning a superbowl.

    Granted this would be really hard to grade each years top 5 (and this becomes extra tricky as qbs are often declared into the leagues best only after winnin a superbowl).

    I was just thinking this as vince brought up how yest it is possible to win with less than the best at qb. But it does seem like 75 percent of the time the sb is won by a top 5 qb, and while players in the top 10 (mccnabb rivers etc…) can keep putting their teams in the playoffs it seems only the ultra elite stand any real chance of walking away the ultimate victor.

  12. Craig…I will make sure we do a study on that. I will try to remember to let you know when it is up. Thanks for the suggestion.

  13. Vince Grey says:

    Who would I trade today for Tony? If you factor in age and injury, picking another QB over Romo is very difficult.

    I’m of the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thought. Romo, IMO, is not broke, so I would be loathe to swap him today for another SB winning QB, even guys like Brady, Rothlisburger, or Peyton.

    My keys are, Tony’s still improving as a QB, he’s very durable, and still no where near old.

    Drew Brees and *maybe* Aaron Rogers would likely be the closest to making me change my mind, but I’m a conservative sort in these matters, so I’m standing pat with hand we were dealt.

  14. Vince Grey says:

    Craig, on the top 5 QB issue, I wonder if winning a SB or two is what get’s some QB’s in that top tier list who would not automatically be there otherwise.

    IOW, is it a chicken and the egg thing?

    Looking at it from the other direction, does a QB’s failure to win a SB, even if it’s not his fault, drop him out of that top level in many cases?

    Even if you expand that list to top 10, which I think, given the talent level of today’s NFL QB’s, is a better list, winning the big one does seem to hold a lot of water with those who make the lists. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing, but I’m not sure.

    An great example would be Carson Palmer, who’s never won anything, and yet I think he’s a hell of a QB. Top 10 easy. If the guy played for a better organization and team, I think he’d easily be considered a top 5 guy.

  15. Yeah…I agree I don’t think there is a QB that would make me trade Romo. Also agree QBs’ success is often determined by SB success, although I do think I will be able to perform a somewhat reliable study on the subject using a combo of career length, stats, SBs, etc.

  16. Craig–Here is a study I just completed which is similar (but not identical) to the one you recommended. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.


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