NFL.com Top 100: Is Joe Flacco Better Than Tony Romo?
The NFL.com Top 100 is slowly being released via television. There was already an uproar when everyone discovered that Tim Tebow cracked the list, and fans were even more upset when they learned that Tony Romo sat just four spots ahead of Tebow on the list, at 91 overall.
Things just got messier.
According to a portion of the list recently released, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco came in at number 74 overall, a whopping 17 spots ahead of Tony Romo. Naturally, the way these two quarterbacks are ranked in a popular list begs the question; who is actually better?
In my opinion, it shouldn’t be a question. I’m not a Cowboys fan and I hold no bias to either quarterback, but it’s clear that Romo is more talented, and has put up better numbers in his career.
Granted, Romo has just one playoff victory to his name, but Flacco has zero Pro Bowls to his name and has stats that can’t compare to what Romo has put up over the years.
Many will point at Romo’s feeble playoff wins and the knee-jerk reaction will be that Flacco wins this debate. However, a closer look suggests that’s not entirely fair.
Take 2011, for instance. Some will say Romo didn’t show up, as his Cowboys failed to claim the NFC East and a playoff spot by beating the New York Giants in the week 17 “winner take all” season finale.
Oh, you mean the Super Bowl champion Giants? The team that beat the 15-1 Green Bay Packers with ease at Lambeau, went into San Francisco and took out the 13-3 49ers, and even shutdown the Atlanta Falcons to the tune of two points in a wild card opener.
And we’re not even to where they, you know, won the league title.
The point is, if you want to start with playoff talk, start with Flacco. Romo lost to the team that ended the year as the best team in football. They didn’t just slap the Cowboys around; they slapped everyone around, and won the Lombardi Trophy.
Flacco, on the other hand, struggled through a divisonal round win against playoff newbies, the Houston Texans. Flacco was so weak in this game, that he was called out by safety Ed Reed, who said the Ravens couldn’t win with quarterback play so shoddy.
In his defense, Flacco did respond in the AFC title game, but it wasn’t enough, as his team once again fell short.
If we’re talking about stats and overall play in the 2011 regular season, I still have to give the golden ticket to Romo. Flacco threw for 3,610 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last year, while Romo bested him in every major category, as he topped 4,100 yards with 31 touchdowns and just 10 picks.
In fact, Romo’s numbers are even more impressive when you note that he got off to a slow start and tossed five interceptions in the first four games of the year. The rest of the way? Just five picks, to go with 24 touchdowns.
Flacco also completed a career low 57.6% of his passes in 2011, while Romo completed 66.3%.
If we want to dig deeper and look at their careers, Romo wins there, too. He’s been far better statistically, as he’s dropped three 4,000+ yard seasons and four seasons of at least 26 passing scores. Flacco hasn’t done any of that.
Further, Romo averages a completion percentage of over 64% on his career. Flacco hasn’t even averaged that for any one season so far.
Let’s recap: Romo has the better numbers both in 2011 and overall, he’s more accurate, and he’s been to Pro Bowls, while Flacco has been to none.
Not sold yet? I don’t blame you, as you’re probably still being held up by Flacco’s post-season success.
However, a fair question is wondering just how much of that playoff success can actually be attributed to Flacco.
After all, he’s always been backed by a grizzly, veteran Ravens defense that excels during the regular season and routinely switches to a whole nother level when the playoffs roll around.
I’ll give Flacco respect for making the playoffs in each of his first four seasons. That’s an accomplishment. But Mark Sanchez made the playoffs in his first two years, too. He even made it to the AFC title game in 2010. Is he better than Romo, too? No, I didn’t think so.
But still, there’s even more evidence to be looked over.
Flacco’s career playoff record isn’t bad (5-4), but his actual performances warrant a closer look. Here’s the breakdown:
Vs. Dolphins (W 27-9) – 9-of-23 for 135 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Vs. Titans (W 13-10) – 11-of-22 for 161 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Vs. Steelers (L 23-14) – 13-of-30 for 141 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT
Summary: It was his first season, but Flacco survived the first two games with the help of his defense and ground game, and then gave Pittsburgh the game with three picks and inefficient play.
Vs. Patriots (W 33-14) – 4-of-10 for 34 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Vs. Colts (L 20-3) – 20-of-35 for 189 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
Summary: The win over the Patriots had everything to do with defense and nothing to do with Flacco, and then Flacco went on to choke against the Colts.
Vs. Chiefs (W 30-7) – 25-of-34 for 265 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Vs. Steelers (L 31-24) – 16-of-30 for 125 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Summary: If we’re giving Flacco respect for beating a Chiefs team that had an easy schedule and was overrated, well, that’s just sad. The real Flacco showed up the following week, as he was ineffective in another loss to the Steelers in the playoffs.
Vs. Texans (W 20-13) – 14-of-27 for 176 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Vs. Patriots (L 23-20) – 22-of-36 for 2 TD, 1 INT
Summary: Flacco had two scores in round one but was very average and inaccurate in key moments. He did show up against a bad Patriots pass defense, but ultimately they didn’t get it done.
It’s pretty clear that Flacco started to show up in 2011. However, using any of his prior post-season “success” in this argument isn’t fair to Tony Romo, as Flacco was far from the reason his team advanced in the majority of those games.
Romo still needs to exercise some demons, ala Drew Brees has in the past. He’s come close to getting over the hump, but it just hasn’t happened for him yet. I believe it will.
In the end, you’ve got two quarterbacks who are very far apart in terms of talent and production, while one has benefited immensely from a superior defense and rushing attack. Romo has better passing weapons and is in an offense that loves to throw. But if he had a consistent running game and a defense that backed him up at all, he’d likely have more playoff success by now.
Last, but not least, when you consider the fact that Romo went undrafted and Flacco was a first-rounder, it’s even easier to be more impressed by Romo.