Today is the first day of December. Shoppers are busy filling their Amazon shopping carts. Meteorologists are busy trying to predict the chances of a white Christmas for their regions. Children are busy finalizing their Christmas wish lists. Christmas tree salespeople are busy preparing the eggnog. And NFL headline writers, unencumbered by the need to do any research, are busy recycling December storylines, one of which is very familiar to Cowboys fans: The Cowboys' Annual December Swoon.
If you're a Cowboys fan, you're very familiar with that particular storyline. As soon as the calendar turns to December, everybody starts talking about how the Cowboys are about to collapse. More specifically, how the Cowboys' quarterback is expected to collapse come December.
It is true that Romo's career December record is 12-17, and the Cowboys have famously struggled to win games in the final month of the season. On Saturday, Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News did the legwork and tallied the Cowboys' December records from 1996-2013, showing that over that 18-season span, the Cowboys have only had three Decembers with a winning record, the last of which was just two years ago in 2012. Since 2009, the Cowboys are 9-12 in December which is only marginally worse than their overall 41-39 record of the last five seasons.
But did you know Tony Romo has thrown 34 touchdown passes and only 8 interceptions in 16 December games he started in since 2009? That's just five TDs less than the NFL's golden child, Aaron Rodgers, who has 39 TDs and 8 INTs over the same span.
In fact, over those 16 games (which includes the 2011 game against the Eagles in which he threw just two passes before injuring his throwing hand as well as last year's Redskins game which he finished with a serious back injury) Romo has thrown for 4,342 yards on 359-for-549 passing (65.4%) for a passer rating of 104.1 in December from 2009-2013.
How does that compare to the other QBs in the league, you wonder? Wonder no more:
QB Performance in December games, 2009-2013 (min. 200 ATT)
Tony Romo ranks at the very top of the league in December passer rating over the last five years. That's not even debatable. Unfortunately, the December Swoon is such a convenient storyline that many pundits and fans alike have taken it at face value without giving the matter further thought. But a closer look at the stats clearly shows that Romo rocks December.
So how come the Cowboys managed only a paltry 7-9 record over the 16 December games from 2009-2013 with Romo as the starter? Because no matter how good your quarterback is, football is still a team sport.
The Cowboys have four more games to play in December this year, with their playoff hopes on the line. They will play those games with a QB who is one of the very best QBs down the stretch over the last five years. But will it be enough?
Can the rest of the Cowboys play up to Romo's standards?