I recently did an article entitled “The NFL top 100 Is Fixed Against The Dallas Cowboys.” Only 3 Cowboys made the Top 100 list: DeMarcus Ware (12th), Dez Bryant (35th), and Jason Witten (41st). The most inflaming part of this list is the fact that Tony Romo was left out of the top 100 players completely. Why? I am going to question the methodology the NFL used to compile their rankings, and I will try to discover who actually does the ‘voting’.
I am going to start with the quarterbacks since 14 of them made the Top 100. How did these 14 QB’s make the NFL’s Top 100 ? Was it success in the playoffs? Was it interception percentage? Was it the teams overall record for the season? Was it the quarterbacks passer rating? (Which is a scientific formula that shows the overall efficiency of a QB.) Was it how many times he lead his team from behind to win in the 4th quarter? Was it how mobile he is? Was it leadership? Was it his performance in big games? Or, was it a biased popularity contest? A fair and balanced evaluation of a quarterback must be based on his individual performance, but it must also take into account other factors like the skill of his WR’s, the effectiveness of his OL etc. This article is an attempt to illustrate that the NFL’s Top 100 is not based exclusively on player and coaches votes; it is a biased popularity contest.
The first question is: Who really does the voting? In a recent video on dallascowboys.com, when the topic of the top 100 was brought up, the Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo said that neither Demarcus Ware, Jason Witten or himself had ever been asked to participate in the voting. Hmm, that is 3 multiple Pro Bowl Players! Why were they not allowed or asked to vote? Maybe someone should take a poll and find out exactly which players actually got to vote? If it is truly based on players’ votes, then why have none of the Cowboys mentioned ever voted? I get the feeling it may really be based on votes the NFL obtains on the website I linked in my 1st article on this subject. From there, the opinionated analysts from the NFL Network may just compile the list themselves. Who receives the ballots? Is there any evidence that these player ballots even exist? Who counts them? Is it a neutral 3rd party agency or NFL.com staff? Why do so few of the players ever talk about voting or who they voted for?
To avoid writing a book instead of an article, I am going to break this issue down in to a few parts. An objective, non biased analysis of 15 quarterbacks is just too much for 1 story. The part that bothered me the most about leaving Tony Romo off the list, was that three rookies made it. Let’s start our analysis with them.
#15 Robert Griffin III
There is no doubt that RGIII is an excellent athlete, but is he the 15th best player in the entire NFL? To me that is a huge reach. It is impossible to ascertain that a player with only 1 season of NFL experience is that good. The league is loaded with future hall of fame players who have served their time on the grid iron. They have spent years in the league, earned multiple Pro Bowl appearances and shown consistency year after year. Granted, RGIII had a solid passer rating of 102.4, but does the fact that he only attempted 393 passes (26.2 per game) on the season have anything to do with that? What about having the #1 ranked rushing attack in the NFL? The Dallas Cowboys were 31st.
Tony Romo attempted 648 passes (40.5 per game) and still managed to maintain a completion percentage of 65.6. The amusing part is that Romo had the exact same completion percentage as RGII with almost twice as many attempts and a much less effective running game. It is obvious that the Washington Redskins had a much better offensive line than the Cowboys in 2012. Keep in mind that the Washington Redskins were running a ‘read-option’ offense. What does this mean? The most important thing is that defense are less likely to pin their ears back and blitz when facing even a semi-effective ‘read-option’ offense.
This brings me to my next point. RGIII is known as an extremely mobile QB. He had more rushing yards and rushing TD’s in 2012 than DeMarco Murray. When I studied him on tape, the one thing I noticed was his tendancy to hold the football too long. In spite of his mobility, and the fact that he had over 300 less drop backs than Tony Romo, he took 30 sacks as compared to Romos’ 36. So my question becomes: who do you think has a quicker release and does a better job of extending plays? Don’t forget that RGIII had 12 fumbles to Tony Romos’ 6 despite the fact that he dropped back to pass far fewer times than Romo and got sacked almost as much as Romo.
Another one of the most common criticisms of Tony Romo is that he can’t play under pressure or win in big games. Let’s take a look at the facts here. RGIII only attempted 197 passes when behind in games. Tony Romo threw 422 passes when behind in games (more than RGIII threw in the entire season). When behind 9-16 points, Griffin threw 70 passes and completed 41 (58.6%) for a passer rating of 82.9. When Tony Romo was behind 9-16 points, he threw 137 passes and completed 94 (68.6%) for a passer rating of 101.9. What I found interesting is that Romo threw almost twice as many passes in clutch situations, and he completed more passes than RGIII even attempted with a substantially higher QB rating.
People like to say that Tony Romo can’t finish games. Let’s look at their performance in the 4th quarter. Romo threw 187 passes in the 4th quarter; he completed 122 of them (65.2%) for a passer rating of 101.2 , 1,448 yards (almost 1/2 of RGIII’s total yards on the entire season) and 12 TD’s. RGIII threw 128 passes in the 4th quarter; he completed 79 of them (61.7%) for a passer rating of 84.8, 841 yards and only 4 TD’s. In every important category of QB evaluation, even with a lot more attempts and a higher margin for error, Tony Romo out-performed RGIII (and he did it while running for his life).
The other knock on Tony Romo is based around the final game of the 2012 season against the Washington Redskins. Let’s take a look at exactly how much RGIII really contributed to that game: he completed 9 of 18 passes (50%) for 100 yards, zero TD’s and a passer rating of 66.9. Remember: RGIII was facing a severely depleted Cowboys defense that was forced to start and play several guys who were sitting on the couch at the beginning of the season. RGII was a non-factor in that game – the Washington Redskins RB, Alfred Morris, rushed for 200 yards and 3 TD’s! Why does RGIII get the credit for beating the Dallas Cowboys? Morris produced 3 of the TD’s and twice as many yards as the QB!
People seem to forget that the Redskins finished 20th in the NFL in passing. The Cowboys finished 3rd. I guess 20th in passing represents the 5th best QB in the NFL? Anathema.
The biggest criticism of Tony Romo is that he can’t win in the post season. Well gosh, in the 2012 playoffs, RGIII completed 10 of 19 passes (52.6%) for 84 yards (4.4 yards an attempt), 2 TD’s and one interception for a passer rating of 77.5. Alfred Morris had 80 yards on 16 carries for an average of 5.0 yards per carry. The bottom line is, they lost. This means RGIII is now 0-1 in the post season. Ben Roethlisberger (who was ranked 61st in the Top 100) led his team to a Super Bowl as a rookie. Are you getting my point?
Among post season teams: the Washington Redskins ranked #1 against the pass (156 yds per game) and 4th in total defense. Obviously you can’t blame the defense for the loss. If it had been Tony Romo who lost in the playoffs it would have been national news that he choked. What does RGIII get? Recognized as the 5th best QB in the NFL and the 15th best player in the entire NFL. Again I say anathema.
If you go back to the beginning of this article and look at the methodology to evaluate a QB objectively without any bias. Primarily all of the areas that Tony Romo has been knocked on, he has out performed RGIII or RGIII wasn’t held to the same standards. So when I tell you the NFL top 100 is nothing more than a popularity contest, the facts support that conclusion.