Let's be plain about it. Tony Romo was awful Sunday. He decided the Cowboys loss. He gift-wrapped 10 points for the Steelers with two poor throws. He made many more bad decisions. He showed none of the accuracy we're come to expect. He showed, for the first time I can recall, signs of "Drew Bledsoe Syndrome," feeling a rush that often wasn't near.
Consequently, that vocal faction which emerges after every Cowboys loss is in full roar. He'd done, they say. Draft a QB to challenge him.
To paraphrase the long-departed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, you go to battle with the QB you have. It's easy to look over the fence at other shiny QB alternatives sitting in other teams' driveways, but seriously, which other teams have QBs they absolutely, positively can trust to do better? It's a very short list.
Let's start in the other conference. And no, you can't name Tom Brady. He's on IR. Who would you take in Tony's place? Ben Roethisberger? He's got a ring on his finger. He also had a 22 QB rating in his championship game, a 9 of 21, 134 yard,, 2 INT howler. He benefitted that day, as he did Sunday, from a stellar defense and a more error-prone opposition.
Philip Rivers? His line in '06, when his team was 14-2, was Aikmanesque. Lots of TD, very few picks. He had a gutty playoff win over the Colts last year when he played on one leg. He's got a good line this year.
He also went one and out in that '06 campaign. Conversely, he's been the one constant in San Diego's dismal year. I'll list him as a maybe.
Peyton Manning? Ah, now you're talking. Pure class. The prototype. Let's look at Peyton's steely, peerless playoff record at a similar career point to Romo's. This will show Terrible Tony what a good QB's line looks like:
- '99 -- Leads Indy to a 13-3 record. Goes one and out in the playoffs.
- '00 -- Gets team to the wild card round. Loses 23-17 to Miami.
- '02 -- Returns to wild card round. Loses 41-0. Throws 14 of 31 for 134 yards and two picks.
What a loser! Why is he even in this discussion? And why did the stupid Colts hang on to him?
Who else do you like in that conference? Jay Cutler? Is he any more certain than Romo?
Let's move to the NFC
Who do you like here? Drew Brees? He was in MVP contention and will probably get some hardware. That defenseless Saints team rides on his shoulders. Still, he's 1-6 in his last seven matchups against winning teams, with a 9-11 TD-to-Int. ratio. That doesn't scream "clutch" to me.
He failed his "pressure game" two weeks ago in Tampa Bay, when he threw two picks on New Orleans' last two drives. The first one gave Tampa their game winning field goal. The second sealed the loss and probably knocked his team out of the wild card race.
Kurt Warner? He was getting serious MVP mojo and then was outplayed in back-to- back losses by Eli Manning and Donovan McNabb. Warner committed five turnovers in those games, with a key fumble that tipped a see-saw game towards New York.
Who else has that cool, dependable hand? Aaron Rogers? Matt Hasselbeck? Jake Delhomme? Donovan McNabb? He's hot again, but his fans were chasing him with pitchforks two games ago when he admitted he didn't know games could end in ties.
The only QB who can throw stones in the conference is Eli Manning and he's got the best running game in football to ease his burden.
Romo could fold these last three weeks and drive the Cowboys Nation to apoplexy. He could also bounce back, as he did after last year's five-pick Buffalo abomination, when he went on an eight-game tear that averaged 268 yards, and saw him throw 22 TDs to 6 picks. That insouciant smirk that so infuriates the haters is also his best weapon. He has not yet let bad games keep him down.
You can't judge QBs in a vacuum, especially with Tom Brady out of the picture. A holistic view shows that the Aikman-Brady standard is largely missing in this year's NFL. Romo isn't perfect, but if he can get to the post season, he'll be no more blemished than the rest of the QB field.
Or course, getting there depends on the return of the good Tony. Stay tuned.