Posted August 13, 2013

When it comes to Tony Romo, perception doesn’t always equal reality

Dallas Cowboys, NFC East
Tony Romo hasn't always been great in critical situations, but he hasn't always had help, either.

Tony Romo hasn’t always been great in critical situations, but he hasn’t always had help either. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

It’s unclear why former NFL defensive lineman Travis Johnson felt the need to go all medieval on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo during a recent appearance on CSN Houston, but the first-round pick of the Houston Texans in 2005 most certainly did so.

“When Tony Romo got to Dallas he had everything around him and was a loser,” Johnson said. “At one time he had five Pro Bowlers on the offensive line. They have no passing game, so nobody’s worried about the run.

“Tony Romo has not earned a dollar he’s been given in this league … he is a thief. They need to bring him up on federal charges right now. He don’t even have a ski mask on. I’ll tell you right now, if a man robs you with no ski mask on, he’s going to kill you. That’s exactly what he’s doing, he’s killing the franchise. He’s not worried about witnesses at all. He’s killing the franchise right now. There’s 75,000 witnesses and nobody’s going to testify against him.”

If that’s the case, well, bad news for the Cowboys, as they signed Romo to a six-year, $108 million contract extension in late March. Johnson’s opinion (see the video below for his full comments) is the most extreme and puerile version of the stigma that has dogged Romo throughout his career — the idea that he chokes in key situations.

The truth, so far as anyone would choose to parse it, it a bit different. If you’re into fourth-quarter comebacks as the ultimate indicator of “QB clutchiness,” well, Romo tied with Atlanta’s Matt Ryan for the most fourth-quarter comebacks in the 2012 season, and his comebacks and game-winning drives rank right up there with the elite over the last few years.

If you’re into more advanced metrics, consider this: In four of the last five seasons, Romo has an above-average DVOA (Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted per-play efficiency metric) in late and close situations (any play in the second half or overtime when the score is within eight points). The 2010 season is the only exception, and in the other four seasons, Romo’s DVOA is actually higher in those situations than overall. And if you choose to argue that Romo melts under the brightest spotlights, consider that he has one of the best Quarterback DVOA rankings in nationally televised games since 2008.

And this is a guy stealing from his team? Perhaps that designation could be given to an individual who signed a first-round contract and went on to start 38 games and amass 102 tackles over six seasons for two teams, as Johnson did.

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As for Romo, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett seems to have the right idea — he recently told people to chill out when It comes to blaming Romo for the Cowboys’ relative failures. When he was quizzed on SportsCenter about Romo’s record of 1-6 in “win-or-go-home” games, Garrett had this to say:

“I think teams win ‘win or go home’ games. I think teams win playoff games. I think teams win championships. Certainly the quarterback has a big role in having a really good football team, a championship football team. Tony’s done a great job helping us get into some of those games, helping us get an opportunity to win the division, to go to the playoffs, and sometimes it hasn’t worked out for our football team.”

Has Romo failed the Cowboys at times? Certainly. He will make more than his share of boneheaded throws, doesn’t always toss the ball away when there’s no play to make and tries to scramble his way out of trouble at times, only to find himself in a bigger fire. But he’s also been betrayed by a porous offensive line and receivers who occasionally run routes I’ve never seen on any route tree. It must also be said that Garrett needs a bit of help in the game-management department, which may be why offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan will be calling plays in 2013.

If you want to keep it on the surface and claim that Tony Romo doesn’t apply enough “winner sauce” to the game of football, that’s your prerogative. But for those interested in reality over common perception … the reality is that Romo is a better than average quarterback with streaks of greatness and equal streaks of frustration. And that makes him very much like most long-time starters in the NFL.

118 comments
atthebarbershop
atthebarbershop

P.S. 18-22 is not relevant for a Manning conversation, because he was won, wait for it...TWO Super Bowls. We can ignore 18-22 because Manning wins when it counts the most! I'm no football Giants fan, but the two rings speak for themselves.

atthebarbershop
atthebarbershop

What's his name's point. And no they are not. Its much MORE important to win games in December and January. Not that winning isn't important in September, but winning is MORE important at the end of the season. You're right, I must not be as smart as you thought 'cause I'm arguing with you. Try to leave you dislike for the ex-NFL player who slammed Romo, out of this for a second. Romo is getting $108 million for NOT making the playoffs, and losing on those rare ocassions when he does get there.  He is not worth the money he's getting. A funny way to exaggerate that point is to say Romo is stealing. What's his name's point is figuratively, right. Romo is taking money he has not earned!

mattvegas32
mattvegas32

Who is Travis Johnson?  What has he ever done?  Exactly!!!!!!

joe6647
joe6647

Tony Romo has the most 4th quarter comebacks because hes digging himself a hole quarters 1-3 with all the boneheaded pick 6s

muser
muser

Cowboys fans and Jerry. PLEASE disregard Johnson and keep Romo at the helm....

George S
George S

It's the curse of having a good, but not elite, QB. A team overspends to keep him, then it leaves them short of money to acquire (and retain) the additional pieces to win a championship unless their drafting has been stellar, which the Cowboys hasn't. A team that constantly drafts WRs high but ignores their needs on the O-line is inevitably going to fail in the playoffs, if they make it. And as long as all the decisions filter through Jerry Jones, he's the one at fault for this team's lack of success since the early 90's.

OraPike
OraPike

you don't fire the team you fire the coach---but when the owner makes football decisions you fire the owner.  Look at that great team and what happened----we could have won 5 in a row and would still be building a winner.

Whatever
Whatever

Jerry Jones has managed the Cowboys to a 126-126 record over the 16 years he has been GM. And that's including the time when Jimmy Johnson was mostly calling the shots and winning championships, so Jones' record is even more abysmal.

However, as a Cowboy hater, please keep your GM hat, Jerry. We love to hate you, and we love it even more when your team flops despite all of the undeserved hype it and you receive.

OwenCaterwall3
OwenCaterwall3

Johnson's a punk who flamed out early. When he says "hello, loser", it's to the mirror in the morning on his way to his job as a security guard at the supermarket. 

BallRush
BallRush

Gumpster's comments are totally correct.  Jerry Jones is the problem in Dallas, period.  If Romo was in Baltimore, New England, Denver, San Francisco or NY (Giants)...  wonder what his development, demeanor and results would look like.  By the way, did anyone see the HBO Hard Knocks when Jones said he liked Quincy Carter at QB because he was a Libra?  OMG.

6marK6
6marK6

The 4th quarter comeback stat is such a misleading statistic. If the Cowboys recover a fumble on the 20 yardline, go three and out and kick a field goal with twelve minutes in the game and Romo is credited with a comeback. It is a stat that defies reality. Watch the Cowboys and you will see that Romo is not "money" in the 4th. 

JimKirkwood1
JimKirkwood1

Dude sounds kind of bitter. Or maybe he just wants publicity

therealmdd
therealmdd

Romo never had 5 Pro Bowlers at one time.and his stats are superior to Schaub's. He should be focused in on Schaub''s shortcomings. He plays in the weakest division and conference in the NFL and his team is sitting right there along with the Cowboys at the end of every season. Who is this guy ,Travis Johnson, anyway ?

sirmixalot
sirmixalot

Never understood why 4th quarter comebacks are perceived as better than dominating the other team for 4 quarters.

fmfrijoles
fmfrijoles

I love that Dallas resigned Romo to that ridiculous contract.....not only will they be mired in mediocrity for the rest of his career....they won't have any cash to sign players. What they should have done is trade him in the offseason for a boatoad of picks and start with fresh young talent......instead they chose to deal with him without any form of leverage. LOL. Jerry is an idiot.

mystafugee
mystafugee

Well, this guy is an analyst and all he had to have said was something like "he should have done better in the past considering the parts around him."  Instead he went all Stephen A Smith on him

Kalzy
Kalzy

Guy is a profound idiot. Where would the boys be without this guy?  Several first picks.

runaway06
runaway06

I think people call Tony Romo a loser because his defining moments have been losses...See: Romo's blunder v. the Seahawks, 2007 and 2008 meltdowns v the Eagles, 2012 late-game picks, etc.

belindian
belindian

@atthebarbershop So a quarterback can win two Super Bowls while also having a losing record in December.  Doesn't that show that his record in December has no predictive power when it comes to the playoffs?  Normal people realize that breaking down a relatively small sample like quarterback wins into smaller samples like wins by month can have wild variations.  We don't try to put extra meaning into those wild variations.  A quarterback can have a losing record in December and be successful in the playoffs.  A quarterback can show no ability to win in the playoffs prior to winning a Super Bowl.  I don't know why this is so hard for you to understand.

belindian
belindian

@atthebarbershop You should have taken my advice about not posting further.  I was debating with another person about whether quarterback wins are all that matters.  What's his name, or Travis Johnson, didn't enter into it.  What's the alternative to the Cowboys paying Romo $108 million?  They enter crappy quarterback roulette with the Browns, Cardinals, Titans, Bills, Vikings and Chiefs.  The "winners" of that game end up with past his prime Carson Palmer or Alex Smith.  Paying Romo is better than that.  I'd be inclined to think you agree but you're also the person that responded to my point about quarterback wins ranking Ryan over Rodgers by thinking "That's not an analogy".  Good call on that not actually being an analogy.  I never claimed it was and I don't know why you want me to look that up in the dictionary.  Are you confused by the concept and want me to look it up for your benefit?

mattvegas32
mattvegas32

Yeah, he actually is worth that.  When your team averages 24 points a game from 2008 - 2012 then guess what, you offense really isn't the problem.  When your team averages 24 points against per game from 2008 - 2012 then guess what, your problem just may be defense.

RandyPope
RandyPope

In 8 seasons, he threw 10 pick 6's. You'd be surprised at the number of great QB's that threw more. (Too many to list here). But, this misperception speaks to the entire spirit of the article: Perception obviously isn't reality concerning the performance of Tony Romo.

Voiceover310
Voiceover310

@therealmdd Stats for a QB are good and all that but anyone with a brain stem knows that when the game/season is on the line that Romo is the last guy you want with the ball. Romo has proven time and time again that he is just not a game changer. Johnson could of put it in a much more respectful way but the point he was trying to make is relevant and any football fan will/should say the same thing. The cowboys haven't been relevant in almost 20 years. Sure, romo's stats are great for him but it does absolutely nothing for the cowboys. 

mystafugee
mystafugee

@sirmixalot I guess people just like the idea of "clutchness" even though in truth it really comes down to experience in those situations.  Guys like Manning or Lebron generally don't face it that often since their teams usually dominate teams over 4 quarters.  

mystafugee
mystafugee

@fmfrijoles well if's so mediocre as you say, why the hell would any team trade a boatload of picks for him?  

Sportmentary
Sportmentary

@mystafugee Didn't you think the video was hilarious? The went too far but do you really think Romo is a winner?

Sportmentary
Sportmentary

@runaway06 Your correct, he's not a winner. The wonderful Rono has been to the playoffs in three seasons, played 4 games total and lost 3 of them. In those 4 games he fumbled the ball 5 times and lost two of them. He's thrown 4 TDs in those games and two INts.

sl1
sl1

@runaway06 I agree. When it matters most, he doesn't have his head in the game. If you remember in the seahawks game, just before he botched the snap, he was waving and blowing kisses up to his girlfriend who was sitting in the owners box...And to those comparing him to tom brady, just compare the superbowl wins and you look pretty foolish.

mystafugee
mystafugee

@runaway06 if that's the case, since 2005, Tom Brady has been a big time loser.  

atthebarbershop
atthebarbershop

@belindian @atthebarbershop If you don't win, people start asking why you''re not winning. They start going "inside the numbers" to look for a reason. OK Romo's 55-38 in his career, but why only 4 playoff appearances? Could it be that he's only 14-23 as a starter late in the season? Wouldn't you agree that this is not only a possible reason for his lack of post-season sucess, but a probable reason? But back to the argument that Romo is "stealing" without a ski mask. Yeah Romo is 55-38, but 16-16 over his last two years! The point of what's his name's rant was Romo didn't earn this money. He's .500 over the last two years and 17-21 over the last three (he only played 6 games in 2010 for some reason) and Jones gives him a $108 million contract?! I think the people who are great, who win, in any profession just don't play the numbers. The numbers might not mean much to you, but you'd have to be stupid to look only at Eli's December-January numbers and say he's not better than Romo. (not saying you're saying that) Eli has won two Super Bowls. Romo hasn't even won two playoff games. Romo hasn't won when it counted the most. and is nothing but a .500 QB over the past, two, plus seasons, but because he's piling up yards about the most you can say about Romo right now is that he is fast becoming the Vinnie Testeverde of this era. (without the playoff wins)

atthebarbershop
atthebarbershop

@belindian @atthebarbershop Whatever, if you think there is no alturnative to paying Romo $108 million then you probably shouldn't become a GM in the NFL. One suggestion would be to take that $108 million and build a running game, and get a QB who stays within his limits and doesn't turn over the ball. I don't think you really have your heart in defending Romo cause you think he's worth the money. And I agree, 17-23 in his last 40 starts speaks for itself.

therealmdd
therealmdd

Games are on the line from star to finish, if he's given his team a lead and they lose it with less than 2 minutes to play, that's more of an indication of an inept defense. By no means do I think Romo is innocent .but there aren't many QBs who would be successful with that o-line and defense. We wouldn't even know who Brady is had he been drafted by the Cowboys.

Voiceover310
Voiceover310

@mystafugee Romo is overpaid and the Cowboys made a huge mistake by giving him all that money. He is never going to win a super bowl and neither will the cowboys while he is on the roster. 

atthebarbershop
atthebarbershop

@mystafugee @runaway06 What? I hate Brady and the Pats but  at least they win playoff games. In fact, don't quote me here, I think they've been to the Super Bowl a couple of times since 2005.

Mr.NerveDamage
Mr.NerveDamage

@atthebarbershop@belindian I know right? I mean... the guy runs out on the field by himself... blocks for himself, runs the ball himself, and passes to himself... and JUST CAN'T SEEM TO WIN THE BIG GAME!!!! Oh wait... that's right... there's a team around him there. I'll save myself the headache of naming all of the "big games" where Tony was sacrificed in the name of "terrible team-mates" but if you are able to... take a look at the Vikings playoff game a few years ago and see how much the "team" helped Tony... especially the o-line. By the end of that game... I'm surprised Tony didn't have to get carted off in a fully body cast... his o-line let so many rushers hit him... it almost seemed like a setup. Point being... YES.. Tony has made some terrible late season plays... but so has Troy, Roger, Payton, Brady, etc... the difference is the team around those players. Ever thought to look at all of his team-mates who "choked" during those "big games"... you guys are focusing too much on #9 and not enough on the players he depends on to win.

mystafugee
mystafugee

@Voiceover310 @mystafugee Is it because Romo's on the Cowboys or because Romo's on's the Cowboys?  Besides, this is the team that once thought Quincy Carter was their future so I guess they wanted to throw $$$ at any half decent QB

mystafugee
mystafugee

@Sportmentary @mystafugee Look, I don't even like Romo, I wouldn't call him a winner or a loser, he's just an above average QB.  This just seems like piling on an easy target.