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Running the Numbers: Romo Versus the Blitz

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Jonathan Bales

I’ve talked about Tony Romo’s ability to succeed against the blitz in the past, primarily when he posted a 113.9 passer rating against the blitz in 2010. Overall, however, Romo is about equal against the blitz as against a four-man rush. As I point out in my latest Running the Numbers post, Romo really excels when the defense doesn’t disguise their intentions:

Romo’s passer rating when the defense sticks with its pre-snap alignment is remarkable. When the defense shows a blitz pre-snap and then actually blitzes, Romo’s passer rating is 120.9. If the defense doesn’t show blitz and then sits back in coverage, Romo’s rating is still outstanding at 110.4. When Romo anticipates the defense doing one thing and they do another, however, his passer rating is far lower.

Note that although both passer ratings against the blitz are higher than those when the defense doesn’t blitz, the overall non-blitz passer rating is slightly higher because defenses generally fail to show blitz and then sit back in coverage. Actually, defenses have lined up in a standard alignment and then not blitzed on 48 percent of the Cowboys’ plays over the past three years. In comparison, defenses have lined up in a traditional alignment and then blitzed only 13.9 percent of the time.

You might think this phenomenon would be the case for all quarterbacks, but it isn’t because disguising blitzes puts defenses in a sub-optimal position before the snap.

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