Monday, September 29, 2008

Dear NFL Analysts and Fans

Tony Romo is the most overrated player in the NFL. This guy is JT O'Sullivan behind an awesome offensive line and with playmakers falling out of his bandolier. It is maddening to hear analysts give the cursory 10-second acknowledgement to the earthmovers and proceed to spend 20 minutes drooling over Romo, his dimples, and the set of breasts he's dating this month.

Incidentally, the only thing more overrated than Romo's football career is apparently his romantic one; I mean, a soul mate? This is a guy who has rightly acknowledged that he's just out to have as much fun as possible because he'll soon be forgotten. Poor Jessica Simpson. Hope she hears another divorce attorney with those wedding bells.

But back to football. Can someone please tell me why everyone is so blind? And it's not even that we're blind, it's that we see and ignore. Every close observer of the game knows - knows - that a competitive team absolutely requires a competent offensive line. A great QB can make up for an average line, but not a below average one. Steve Young and Joe Montana did this to an extent, but those lines had their strenghts. Even more significantly, a great offensive line can turn an average QB into a great one.

That is exactly what is happening in Dallas. Romo has a good arm, maybe even a very good one. It is not great. He can throw deep and accurately, but I have not seen him make any Brett Favre or John Elways throws; throws where you wonder if that ball was really propelled by a human arm. I've seen JeMarcus Russell do it. I saw Jay Cutler make one. I believe Eli Manning has such a throw on his resme, it was pretty significant as I recall. Haven't seen any from Terrific Tony.

Romo is not exceptionally elusive, he does not have flawless decision-making, and he turns the ball over. Good lord, some of his turnovers are just hideous (like the fumble in the end zone a couple weeks ago). He throws Brett Favre-interceptions and gets away with it in the same way despite lacking even Favre's most humble credential. So he can throw deep and accurately, so what? He is a professional quarterback given ample time and a plethora of options. That's what a pro should do.

People believe Romo possesses something special because he is succeeding where those before him failed. But take a closer look. What does that really mean? It means he's better than an over-the-hill Drew Bledsoe and an under-the-hill Vinny Testeverde. And maybe not even that. Afterall, those guys did not have Terrell Owens, Marion Barber, or an offensive line with this much experience/cohesion.

Perhaps the most crippling flaw in Romo's game is his most glaring, which makes his exceptional reputation all the more confounding. He has yet to perform when something important, really important, is on the line. And I'm not talking bright lights and big audiences. I'm talking survival, I'm talking championships. I'm talking fumbling snaps on field goals in the playoffs. I'm talking letting an underdog march into your stadium and take the NFC Championship from you.

So what is Tony Romo objectively? He is a good QB who can steer a uniquely talented offense through games they should win and then wilts when resistance increases. Sure, he puts up obscene numbers and dates gorgeous women. Put most QBs in the NFL behind that Dallas offense and I bet the results are the same.

That is the thing about a great offense. If a QB knows he has time to throw and talent waiting to receive the ball, it's easy to be confident. Once a player has confidence, his natural ability and talent shines through. And let's face it, most QBs in the NFL have the necessary talent.

That is why I'd take Jake Delhomme, Drew Brees, Donovan McNabb, Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady over Romo. Shoot, I might even take David Gerrard, Jay Cutler, and JeMarcus Russell over Romo because those guys have more natural talent and have done impressive things in offenses that look junior varsity next to Dallas.

At the very least, I'd have someone else holding for me on my field goals.

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