FanPost

Tony Romo vs. Other Quarterback Passer Ratings with 3:00 Remaining


EDIT: I realized I had used the data service incorrectly and my initial data was with a 7 point lead, not leading and trailing, so I've made the proper adjustments.

Well this started as a discussion in a comment thread and my reply quickly turned into a fan post, so here goes.

To qualify, QB's had to have at least 100 pass attempts with 3:00 or less remaining in the game since 2006.

That list was 45 players. 11 of them actually had a better passer rating with less than 3:00 than they did with more than 3:00. So not all QB's are worse in those late game situations. 25% are actually better.

The average difference between passer rating with more than 3:00 left and less than 3:00 is -13.6. Romo's is -15.5. So he does in fact get worse in the the last 3:00, more than most QB's, but maybe not to the degree that it's made out to be.

On the plus side, Romo's passer rating is significantly higher than average in both scenarios. 81.7/68.1 is the average. Romo's is 107/91.5. So even though he does drop more than average, his passer rating is still well above average. In fact it's the highest with more than 3:00 left and tied for 4th highest with less than 3:00 left.

Of the 17 current starters that qualify, here are the 11 with a higher dropoff than Romo's -15.5:

Aaron Rodgers (-16)
Alex Smith (-16.9)
Andy Dalton (-33.3)
Cam Newton (-22.1)
Carson Palmer (-26.3)
Eli Manning (-20.2)
Matt Ryan (-31.1)
Peyton Manning (-23.1)
Philip Rivers (-20.6)
Sam Bradford (-21.1)
Tom Brady (-30.6)

And here are the 6 with a lower dropoff than Romo:

Andrew Luck (+2.1)
Ben Roethlisberger (+8)
Drew Brees (-7.2)
Jay Cutler (-1.5)
Joe Flacco (-7.4)
Matt Stafford (+.9)

Kyle Orton and Brandon Weeden both qualify as well. They are +1 and -38.3 respectively.

There's one more thing I wanted to look at, to see if this would end or perpetuate the "Romo's a choker" narrative. And that was whether or not any of this changes in a close game. So I ran the numbers again, with the score within 7 points.

This paints a much different picture. Using the same list of players since 2006, only 3 QB's have a larger drop off than Romo, if the lead is within 7 with less than 3:00 left. Romo loses 67.9 off of his passer rating after 3:00 in a close game, having the lead. The average decrease is 14.1. This very strongly suggests that Romo does in fact get worse in close games, late in the game, a lot more than other NFL QB's do, at least when leading that close game. If you're somebody that says Romo gets worse the closer the score, and the later in the game it gets, these numbers would give you a leg to stand on.

Here's how the same list of starters shakes out:

Current starters with a lower dropoff than Romo, leading by 7:

Aaron Rodgers (+14.6)
Alex Smith (-27.9)
Andy Dalton (-.5)
Cam Newton (+22.6)
Carson Palmer (-64.5)
Matt Ryan (-20.9)
Peyton Manning (-21.7)
Philip Rivers (+19.5)
Sam Bradford (-26.5)
Andrew Luck (+15.9)
Ben Roethlisberger (+.8)
Drew Brees (-24.1)
Jay Cutler (+10.4)
Joe Flacco (+17.6)
Matt Stafford (+19.8)
Tom Brady (-36.3)

Current starters with a higher dropoff than Romo, leading by 7:

Eli Manning (-75.5)

Romo's passer rating with 3:00 left and a lead within 7 is 58. With more than 3:00 left and a lead within 7, it's 125.9. This makes it very clear that his 4th quarter numbers are greatly padded toward the first 12 minutes in close games where he has a lead, and he falls off a cliff at the end of close games with a lead. And not only is the dropoff concerning, but the raw number of 58 passer rating is 3rd worst amongst all current starters. So he essentially goes from the best 4th quarter QB in the league with a passer rating of 125.9 in the first 12 minutes of close 4th quarter leads, to (almost) the worst with a 58 passer rating in the last three minutes.

To further illustrate, here's a graph, though I didn't take the time to collect only player data with at least 100 attempts within 3:00. So this is all players since 2006.

Red = Romo, Green = NFL Average

Online Graphing
Create a chart

When he's trailing within 7, however, the results are a little easier to swallow. He stays above average in passer rating, and the 3:00 dropoff is actually a little bit better than average, rather than drastically worse. Curious, because the league averages actually suggest that QB's generally play worse when trailing than leading in the 4th quarter. Romo is actually the opposite. This probably contributes to him sticking out to the football watching public. Romo's number here is a much more tolerable -28.8.

Current starters with less dropoff, trailing by 7:

Aaron Rodgers (-15.7)
Andy Dalton (+.5)
Cam Newton (+11)
Matt Ryan (-24.2)
Philip Rivers (+3.8)
Sam Bradford (-17.4)
Andrew Luck (+6.4)
Ben Roethlisberger (-12.8)
Jay Cutler (+1.5)
Joe Flacco (-24.4)
Matt Stafford (-2.3)
Eli Manning (-25.1)

Current starters with more dropoff, trailing by 7:

Alex Smith (-34.6)
Tom Brady (-30)
Drew Brees (-45.2)
Peyton Manning (-30)
Carson Palmer (-28.7)

The average 3:00 dropoff amongst current starters trailing by 7 or less is -16.4. So Romo is still pretty well below average here, but it's not as drastic as it is when he has a lead. And, he also keeps his passer rating above average the entire time, so that is a big plus.

With the exception of Andy Dalton, who goes from a nearly irrelevant -.5 to +.5, only 4 other QB's actually have better numbers trailing than they do leading, besides Romo. Those are Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford, Tom Brady and Eli Manning. But only Eli and Palmer have a similar curve to Romo's atrocious -67.9 with a lead, to still bad, but better -28.8 trailing. So when asking why other QB's don't get the same "choker" treatment as Romo, the only two who come statistically close to Romo in the 4th quarter are Eli Manning and Carson Palmer. Both have received their share of criticism, but throw in a couple Eli superbowls, and the fact that Romo's got a star on his helmet, and it may start to make more sense about why Romo gets more naysayers than those two.

Online Graphing
Graph maker

But with all that said, the original purpose of the discussion that spawned this post was for people to recognize on both sides of the Romo fence, that there is good and there is bad. He's not a god and he's not worthless. There is a truck load of good stats to pull up about Romo that make up for his shortcomings in areas such as this, but these shortcomings do exist. They're not fabricated by the media, or overblown by perception. They are real, they exist, and the question should be whether the good outweighs the bad. Not whether the bad exists at all. And I would say the good does outweigh the bad.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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