David Hickey is a long-time CHFF reader, a die-hard Cowboys fan, and one of our most fact-filled emailers. His articles have been published here in the past. Today he makes the case, and a pretty good one at that, for Tony Romo as MVP.)
By David Hickey
Cold, Hard Football Facts flaming Romosexual
Last month the Cold Hard Football Facts declared
Arizona Cardinal QB Kurt Warner to be a "born again MVP candidate." Although Arizona has gone a middling 2-2 since this coronation, including barely squeaking by NFL bottom-feeders like the 49ers and Seahawks, the fact remains that the Cardinals are poised to win their first division title since 1947, and this is due in large part to Warner's passing statistics and veteran leadership.
There are other MVP-worthy candidates as well:
- Drew Brees is on track to smash Dan Marino's individual season record for passing yards.
- Brett Favre is about to lead the Jets, who were 4-12 last year, to the postseason.
- Eli Manning and Kerry Collins are doing yeoman's work in leading the NFL's two best teams.
- Adrian Peterson and Clinton Portis are neck-and-neck in a battle for the NFL rushing title while leading their respective teams to possible playoff berths.
- And even Falcons rookie QB Matt Ryan and newcomer RB Michael Turner deserve some consideration after playing key roles in Atlanta's miraculous resurgence.
One name that is not being bandied about by so-called "pundits" like Peter King (Kris Jenkins for MVP?) is glamour boy and Cowboys QB Tony Romo. After Week 13, however, Jessica Simpson's boyfriend has to be considered a front-runner for the award. Here are some of his statistical highlights
ONE – Romo leads the NFL in passer rating (103.2), ahead of Phillip Rivers (100.3). Romo also led the NFC in passer rating in 2007 (97.4).
TWO – Romo's manly 8.5 yards per attempt here in 2008 is the highest mark in the NFL. Romo also led the league in YPA in 2006 (8.6 YPA) and was second (8.1) to Tom Brady (8.3) in 2007.
THREE – For what it's worth, Romo also leads the league in touchdown percentage with 21 in 300 attempts (7.0 percent). And it's not like he's throwing short touchdowns at the expense of the offense running the ball, as the team does have 10 rushing touchdowns and he averages 27.4 yards per touchdown toss. Romo throws it downfield like the gunslingers of long ago, or at least like his hero Favre has been alleged to do – except that Romo has just 8 interceptions so far this season (Favre leads the league with 14).
So statistically speaking, Romo has proven that he is one of the best QBs in the NFL. But how does this translate in terms of his impact on the team?
We all saw how terribly the Cowboys offense performed under backup QBs Brad Johnson and, to a lesser extent, under Brooks Bollinger, while Romo sat on the sideline with a broken pinky finger.
It seems that by definition, a "most valuable player" is one that a team cannot do without. The Cold, Hard Football Facts prove that the Cowboys cannot do without No. 9.
- With Romo, the Cowboys are 7-2 average 29 PPG and 383 YPG.
- Without Romo, the Cowboys are 1-2, average 14 PPG and 233 YPG.
By contrast, last year's MVP, Tom Brady, suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1 of 2008, yet the Patriots are a competitive 7-5 and their offense is a big reason for their relative success this year. And look at how well Chad Pennington has in Miami. Is it at least possible that the Jets would be a decent team with him this year, had Favre not landed in New York?
Romo has also made the Cowboys' offensive line and defense look better.
The Cowboys suffer fewer sacks with Romo in the line-up. His athletic ability and gift of avoiding the rush has resulted in just eight sacks – or less than one per game. His admittedly statuesque back-ups were trapped 10 times in just three games.
The Cowboys run better with Romo in the line-up. His play-making ability, meanwhile, prevents opposing defenses from putting eight men in the box. As a result, the Cowboys averaged 119 rushing YPG during his nine starts and 92 YPG in those contests that he missed.
The Cowboys defense plays better with Romo in the line-up. The increased productivity of the Cowboys offense with Romo under center has made life more difficult for opposing offenses. Dallas opponents score a manageable 20 PPG when Romo plays, compared with 26 PPG in the three games that he missed. In theory, Dallas' greater offensive productivity with Romo in the line-up takes opposing offenses out of their game plan and forces them to play catch up, while the greater time of possession for the Dallas offense gives the Dallas defense more rest.
There's no doubt that Romo's teammates have played with an increased enthusiasm and intensity since their undisputed leader took over the reins of the offense. It's these sorts of intangible benefits that voters should look for when deciding for whom to cast their most valuable player vote.
After the Romo-less Cowboys were crushed 35-14 at the Meadowlands by the Giants back in Week 10, Dallas was virtually dead in the water at 5-4. Since then, Romo has returned – albeit with a splint still on his throwing hand – and the team has won three straight, positioning themselves for a playoff run.
Four incredibly difficult games lie ahead (@Pittsburgh, NY Giants, Baltimore, @Philadelphia), and it's possible that only a 4-0 stretch will guarantee the Cowboys a playoff spot. There is still a month of football left to play, and anything can happen. But if the Cowboys somehow survive this gridiron gauntlet and make it to the postseason, it will be on the shoulders of Antonio Ramiro Romo.
Two Tony Romo Cold, Hard Football Fact that may be of interest.
ONE - While the vast majority of the NFL's MVPs have been high draft picks, Romo could join Kurt Warner as the only the second undrafted positional player (undrafted kicker Mark Mosley won in 1982) to be named MVP in the award's 51-year history.
- Romo averages 8.36 YPA over the course of his career, with 9,673 yards in 1,157 attempts. If he can maintain that pace while reaching the minimum 1,500 attempts needed for official NFL passing records, it would be the third highest average in NFL history
, behind only Otto Graham (8.63) and Sid Luckman (8.42).