The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Grading the ‘Boys: Tony Romo 2012 Grade

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My final in-depth report card of the year goes to Tony Romo.

We can debate the value of Mackenzy Bernadeau all day, but the intrigue and contrasting opinions surrounding any player on the Cowboys will never approach that of Tony Romo. The degree to which views on Romo differ is undoubtedly greater than it is for any player in Dallas, and perhaps anyone in the entire NFL. From “he’s an elite quarterback without much help” to “Where is Kyle Orton?”, we can’t seem to come to a consensus on Romo’s true value as a quarterback.

The Numbers

Fair or not, it’s become commonplace to grade quarterbacks solely on team wins. If that’s the only criteria we use to judge Romo in 2012, he obviously did a mediocre job in leading the Cowboys to an 8-8 record. It’s interesting that so many people value bulk stats when it comes to players like Jason Witten, but (quite accurately) dismiss those with quarterbacks. Romo threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 28 touchdowns this season, and no one seems to care. Nor should they, really, because bulk stats are meaningless without an understanding of efficiency.

In terms of efficiency, Romo had perhaps his worst season in the NFL. Below, I charted Romo’s passer rating and YPA since 2006 in terms of how closely he was to reaching his career-high in each category.

Romo’s passer rating was the worst it has ever been in his career at only 88.3 percent of its peak. That’s concerning, but not to the same degree as Romo’s low YPA. Averaging just 7.57 YPA, Romo’s efficiency was the lowest it has ever been in a full season. Unlike passer rating, YPA isn’t skewed by touchdowns and interceptions—both relatively low-frequency events that are somewhat fluky. While there’s certainly reason to be concerned over Romo’s 19 interceptions, the fact that he turned in such a low YPA should be even scarier because it’s more representative of Romo’s true play.

Of course, Romo’s 2012 season will be marred by a recency bias—the tendency to inflate the importance of the most recent events—because he showed horribly against the Redskins in Week 17. Many will use that as evidence that Romo doesn’t play well late in the season (or late in games, or in close games), but they shouldn’t. Prior to 2012, Romo was just as good late in the season as he was earlier, and he even posted a higher passer rating in the fourth quarter than the first three.

See the rest, including the grade, at Dallas Morning News.

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