but in the end, looking back over his grades for the past couple of years, you come away realizing he just screws up too many games, and too many key plays to make the dark green. I am a bit of a Romo apologist because at times he’s genuinely brilliant, but how many times can you trust he’ll play more consistently before you give up?
excerpted from this PFF article convinces me that PFF is indeed biased against Romo. Note that he says "looking back over his grades," so our author has not actually gone back and reviewed the play data, but merely what PFF graders said, so I am not directly trying to bash the Author, here. Clearly, however, PFF lays a lot of blame on Romo for lost games.
But here are the facts of the matter from Captain Comeback's (Scott Kacsmar) latest Bleacher Report article (yes, I said Bleacher Report, sue me):
Yet, the backbreaking interception thrown in the fourth quarter in Week 17 is just the type of ammo the detractors need to keep putting down one of the league’s top-10 quarterbacks.
That was the 10th time in his career Romo turned the ball over in a clutch situation like that (down 0-8 points in the fourth quarter or overtime and lost the game). Drew Brees has done that 20 times in his career. Philip Rivers has done it 22 times, including 13 times in his last 27 games.
Romo makes mistakes, at worst on a par with some of the best QBs in the league. If you count games where he's leading when it happens (Kacsmar only counted turnovers when behind), Romo has 12 turnovers in the 4th Qtr or OT leading to a loss. For comparison Brady has done it 17 times, Brees 21, Roethlisberger 18, Rivers 23, Peyton and Eli 15 and 16 respectively. For guys that have played less games than Romo: Schaub 10, Flacco 11, ARod 8, Matt Ryan 6. (NOTE: Peyton Manning's # are from 2000 forward, leaving out his first two years)
Isn't that the standard? Isn't that the issue? Tony Romo will get you close but break your heart, and he does it more than an "elite" NFL QB should. Let's see how often he really does break your heart, shall we? and let's actually compare that to other QBs in the same time frame.
Percentage of "clutch turnovers for loss" in games started:
Peyton Manning 7.8% (this number corrected from first draft)
Eli Manning 11.9%
Rex Grossman (for comparison) 27.7% (my opinion has always been that Grossman *is* the QB people think Romo is)
and, also for comparison, a couple of "bus drivers":
Andy Dalton 18.75%
Alex Smith 17.3%
There's some pretty clear information there.
1st off, it's noteable that some famous bus drivers are notably good at giving away games. One would think that the lower expectations on them have more to do with their supposed safety factor than the actual outcomes.
Secondly I'll point out the "under 10% group" -- Brady, Peyton, and Ryan. Ryan is the only moderate surprise here, but given that he does have a high percentage of wins in bad QB performances, perhaps his team has bailed him out? And indeed, a quick check shows that Ryan drops like a stone in this list when you take away the stipulation of it being a loss, with nearly as many actual turnovers as Romo and a much higher percentage. Brady, too, goes way down this list when it isn't limited to losses, landing just slightly ahead of Romo -- I cite this as further support of OCC's excellent research into QBs who are helped by their team.
Then we have Rodgers, again in a class by himself, but this time it's the second tier.
Then there's a 3rd tier of "not blowing games" where we have a cluster of so-called "Clutch" QBs in the 12-14% range. Nestled neatly in the middle of that group is our own Tony Romo. Less likely to deliver a heartbreaking loss than recent Superbowl MVPs Flacco and Roethlisberger, and only slightly more likely to than elite Drew Brees, underrated (truly) Matt Schaub, and google's "Mr. Clutch" himself, Eli Manning.
Rivers is not even in the same ball park as any of these guys and is closer to Grossman than he is to Romo, yet we have been told (not by PFF, as far as I know, however) that Rivers is better than Romo because of his clutch play. That's some pretty thick confirmation bias there.
Oh, and for those who want to compare Tony to his hero, Brett Favre, I can only offer Favre from 2000 on because that's as far back as the play index goes, but Favre comes in at 21.3%. There is no comparison.
Will Tony Romo break your heart on occasion? sure. 12 times he has committed a back breaking turnover to lose a game. He does it about once every 8 games or twice a season-- roughly as often as all but the 3-4 best QBs in the league.
But is there really a plus side? What about 4th Qtr comebacks and Game Winning Drives? How do these QBs rank in terms of helping vs. hurting? Perhaps my next fanpost will examine "Clutch Differential" (feel free to suggest another term as I just now made that up) comparing these "blown saves" to outright wins manufactured by the QB.