## Tony Romo Has Borderline HOF Stats (Era-Adjusted)

This photo probably has one HOF QB

Yesterday, Tony Romo announced that he was retiring from football after an excellent career with the Cowboys. Now here are two interesting questions: will he be a Hall of Famer? And should he be a Hall of Famer?

Regular readers will recall that in 2014, I looked at how Eli Manning’s stats compared to other Hall of Fame passers. I used a quick-and-dirty method to measure quarterback dominance, reprinted below.

• Step 1) Calculate each quarterback’s Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (ANY/A) for each season of his career where he had enough pass attempts to qualify for the passing title (14 attempts per team game). ANY/A, of course, is calculated as follows: (Passing Yards + PassTDs * 20 – INTs * 45 – Sack Yards Lost) / (Pass Attempts + Sacks).
• Step 2) For each quarterback, award him 10 points if he led the league1 in ANY/A, 9 points if he finished 2nd, 8 points if he finished 3rd, … and 1 point if he finished 10th. A quarterback receives 0 points if he does not finish in the top 10 in ANY/A or does not have enough pass attempts to qualify. This is biased in favor of older quarterbacks to the extent he is playing in a smaller league. For example, Charlie Conerly
• Step 3) For each quarterback, add his “points” from each season to produce a career grade.

Romo ranked in the top 10 in ANY/A in all but one season from 2006 to 2014. He finished 2nd in ANY/A in 2014 (9 points), 4th in ANY/A in 2009 (7 points), 5th in both 2006 and 2007 (6 points), 6th in 2011 (5), 7th in 2008 (4), and 9th in 2013 (2). That gives him a total of 39 points. How does that rank historically? Take a look: in the table below, I’ve included the number of “points” for each quarterback with at least 8 points, the last year they played (to help sort by era), and whether or not they are not yet eligible for the HOF, in the HOF, or have not been inducted.

RkLast YrPlayerPointsHOFer
12015Peyton Manning109elig
21999Dan Marino96HOF
31970Johnny Unitas87HOF
31964Y.A. Tittle87HOF
31949Sammy Baugh87HOF
61994Joe Montana83HOF
61978Fran Tarkenton83HOF
81960Norm Van Brocklin81HOF
91955Otto Graham78HOF
112010Brett Favre68HOF
111987Dan Fouts68HOF
132016Drew Brees67elig
141998Steve Young64HOF
151962Bobby Layne61HOF
161959Charlie Conerly57no
161970Bart Starr57HOF
181979Roger Staubach55HOF
192016Aaron Rodgers53elig
201984Ken Anderson46no
201950Tommy Thompson46no
201974Len Dawson46HOF
232016Ben Roethlisberger43elig
231970Sonny Jurgensen43HOF
231947Sid Luckman43HOF
272016Philip Rivers40elig
282014Tony Romo39elig
281996Boomer Esiason39no
282009Kurt Warner39HOF
282000Troy Aikman39HOF
322005Trent Green37no
331965Milt Plum36no
331951Bob Waterfield36HOF
351972Daryle Lamonica34no
361977Billy Kilmer33no
371998John Elway32HOF
391950Frankie Albert31no
391998Warren Moon31HOF
411981Jim Hart30no
411975Roman Gabriel30no
411971John Brodie30no
451979Bob Griese29HOF
462016Carson Palmer27elig
461983Ken Stabler27HOF
481981Craig Morton26no
481968Earl Morrall26no
481963Tobin Rote26no
481941Parker Hall26no
481996Jim Kelly26HOF
532016Matt Ryan25elig
542004Vinny Testaverde24no
541981Bert Jones24no
541968Don Meredith24no
541955Bobby Thomason24no
581996Dave Krieg23no
592008Jeff Garcia22no
592004Daunte Culpepper22no
592003Rich Gannon22no
591950George Ratterman22no
591976Joe Namath22HOF
641996Jim Everett21no
641993Mark Rypien21no
641964Ed Brown21no
672006Mark Brunell20no
671942Cecil Isbell20no
701991Bernie Kosar19no
701983Brian Sipe19no
701966Tom Flores19no
742015Matt Hasselbeck18elig
742013Matt Schaub18elig
742006Steve McNair18no
741985Joe Theismann18no
741984Joe Ferguson18no
802016Russell Wilson17elig
802010Donovan McNabb17no
802001Chris Chandler17no
801987Bill Kenney17no
801971Bill Nelsen17no
801951Johnny Lujack17no
801940Davey O'Brien17no
801966George Blanda17HOF
881993Phil Simms16no
881967Frank Ryan16no
901947Paul Christman15no
902006Jake Plummer15no
901999Jeff George15no
901996Bobby Hebert15no
901988Neil Lomax15no
951974Charley Johnson14no
951997Scott Mitchell14no
951985Vince Ferragamo14no
951979Greg Landry14no
951967Babe Parilli14no
1001989Steve Grogan13no
1001987Danny White13no
1001985Lynn Dickey13no
1001946Frank Filchock13no
1001944Frankie Sinkwich13no
1001955Jim Finks13HOF
1061986Ron Jaworski12no
1061981Archie Manning12no
1061961Eddie LeBaron12no
1091998Randall Cunningham11no
1091995Chris Miller11no
1091991Steve DeBerg11no
1091986Tony Eason11no
1091984Steve Bartkowski11no
1091977James Harris11no
1152016Kirk Cousins10elig
1152015Nick Foles10elig
1151998Erik Kramer10no
1151986Tommy Kramer10no
1151988Doug Williams10no
1151982Jim Zorn10no
1151969Greg Cook10no
1151948Glenn Dobbs10no
1151936Arnie Herber10HOF
1242016Andy Dalton9elig
1242016Eli Manning9elig
1242012Michael Vick9elig
1242010David Garrard9no
1242007Brian Griese9no
1241994Jay Schroeder9no
1241966Rudy Bukich9no
1241947Bud Schwenk9no
1241947Paul Governali9no
1342016Dak Prescott8elig
1342015Josh McCown8elig
1342013Robert Griffin8elig
1342010Kerry Collins8no
1342001Doug Flutie8no
1341998Neil O'Donnell8no
1341994Craig Erickson8no
1341991Ken O'Brien8no
1341961Butch Songin8no
1341950Jim Hardy8no
1341939Ace Parker8HOF

Romo is tied for 28th with three other quarterbacks with borderline Hall of Fame stats: Boomer Esiason, who is arguably a top three non-HOF quarterback, Kurt Warner, who just was inducted, and Troy Aikman, who perhaps would not be in the Hall of Fame if not for his outstanding postseason play.

Of the 27 passers with at least 40 points, 6 are not eligible for the Hall of Fame, though at least 4 are HOF locks (Manning, Brady, Brees, Rodgers), a fifth is a likely HOFer (Roethlisberger), and the sixth (Rivers) is another borderline case.

Of the other 21 quarterbacks? 18 are in the Hall of Fame. The other three? One is Ken Anderson, widely recognized as the best quarterback to be passed over by the HOF. The other two retired before 1960 — Charlie Conerly and Tommy Thompson — so their rankings are inflated by playing in smaller leagues.

In addition to Warner and Aikman, a number of other quarterbacks are in the HOF with rankings lower than Romo, including three players that retired in the ’90s: John Elway, Warren Moon, and Jim Kelly. And for the Eli Manning fans, he has just 9 points.

From an efficiency standpoint, Romo is a Hall of Famer. Whether or not his efficiency truly reflects his ability, his less-than-stellar postseason reputation, and his relatively short career are key questions that the Hall of Fame voters will have to answer. But his statistical case after adjusting for era is probably stronger than most people think. That’s because while Romo only had four seasons with 4,000+ yards, he was extremely efficient for much of his career. From ’06 to ’14, Romo joined Rodgers, Manning, Brady, and Brees as the top 5 passers from that era.

1. For purposes of this post, I have combined all AFL, NFL, and AAFC Stats. []
• sacramento gold miners

Efficiency is good, but is it always great? It’s easier to be efficient in today’s pass-happy NFL, and QBs like Matt Stafford will almost certainly compile huge numbers before they call it quits, Playing for a franchise with a rich postseason history, and never reaching a conference title game is a huge problem for Romo. Just two postseason wins, and while he was efficient in those losses, where were the timely plays other HOF QBs have made with regularity to help their teams advance?

Romo seems to be a class act,and if he was healthy this past season, maybe the postseason would have turned out differently for Dallas. Sports can seem unfair this way, but it’s a good example of why teams and QBs need to seize the opportunity when they have it. No chance for Romo in the HOF.

• I disagree that it is easier to be efficient in today’s NFL, at least once you adjust for era. Stamford is a fine example – the doesn’t make this list. Do you mean something else by efficient? Because that is not a synonym for compiling huge numbers (also, I wouldn’t say that Romo compiled huge numbers).

• sacramento gold miners

Yes, I think the numbers for both efficiency and volume are helped by the era we are in. With more player safety rules apparently coming, the rules will be even more tilted in favor of the offense. In Aikman’s era, defenders were allowed more contact with receivers, hits to the QB weren’t as strictly enforced, among other changes. I agree Romo has regular season HOF borderline stats, but the past HOF QBs would have their individual numbers upgraded if they played under today’s conditions.

• LightsOut85

That’s why the *raw* efficiency numbers are better in the modern era, but Chase was talking about era-adjusted numbers.

• sacramento gold miners

I appreciate fans who put in the time to try and devise these formulas, but I don’t think you can accurately adjust for era. The way the game is officiated today helps the offense, among other factors.

• Four Touchdowns

There’s not perfect system but you don’t think weighting metrics by season or decade averages does a fairly good job?

That’s why we measure QB’s against their own era – rule changes and officiating are accounted for in the higher baselines for today’s players.

• Tom

Took the words out of my mouth. That’s the whole point of adjusting for era…if we’re comparing a guy against all the other guys that played in the same year (or span of years, whatever), than you can see how he’s doing, relative to his era; and that includes how games are officiating, etc.

• sacramento gold miners

Agree about Marino’s great 1984 in total, but one of the flaws with comparing guys from the same era is that it doesn’t take into account offensive schemes, weather, or how those numbers were collected in the context of the games. When the attempt is made to slot players(either by era, or across eras), that’s where I think it’s more of a general perspective.

• Tom

Agreed. There’s a lot that the numbers miss, but I still think adjusting stats by era is a worthwhile first step towards evaluating these guys in relation to each other. It’s not the only step or final step, but at the outset, what we have are these numbers and they tell us A LOT about how good a QB was. We have to start there, even if it is just a “general perspective”. I’ll take that over “no perspective”.

• If Romo made it into the HOF, that could give us 10 HOF QBs active in 2009 (Favre, Peyton, Brady, Brees, Warner, Rodgers, Eli, Roethlisberger, Rivers, and Romo). That feels like way too many, and I would only put five of those guys in my yet-to-be-created HOF.

I am of the belief that one ring would have been enough to get him in the HOF, but I think you could say that for a lot of guys. As far as ringless QBs go, I’d put him in the top 15, maybe the top 10. I couldn’t put him any higher than 7th though.

• Keep in mind that I am a small Hall guy, so all of my HOF-related comments will have that slant.

• Four Touchdowns

What is a “small hall guy”?

• I prefer to have the HOF be very small and very exclusive. For example, there are currently 28 modern-ish QBs in the HOF, starting with Sammy Baugh. I would drop that number as low as 16, with the knowledge that it would reach 20 by the time Rodgers is eligible.

• Of course, for my own HOF, I wouldn’t make everyone wait the full five years for induction. If a guy is a slam dunk, he’s a slam dunk, and I’d have no problem adding him even when he is still active. A five year period of reflection might help me consider the merits of Kurt Warner, but I don’t need five years to think about whether Tom Brady is a HOFer.

• Four Touchdowns

Ah, I’m of the mindset that it’s the “Hall of Fame” not the “Hall of Stats” or whatever. If you’re a household name as a football player, you belong in Canton, IMO.

• That’s a perfectly fair position to take. I think that can lead to unfair treatment of players from teams like Jacksonville or Detroit versus players from New York or Pittsburgh, though. It’s also kind of unfair to players who don’t play fantasy football positions, like a Nick Mangold or Marshall Yanda, or non-pass rushing linebackers, like Thomas Davis or Lance Briggs.

• Four Touchdowns

Well, that’s a simplified version of my thoughts. Though Detroit players like Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson have no problem with name recognition… and a small market like Green Bay has produced some of the biggest names in football like Bart Starr, Vince Lombardi, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, etc.

I do agree that too much focus on the “fame” aspect heavily underrates linemen and other less “sexy” positions that are critical to the sport. It should probably be a balance of recognizing excellent players but also giving the general public the sports celebrities it expects from a HOF museum.

Come for Eli Manning, stay for Marshall Yanda… that kinda thing.

• Richie

Green Bay may be a small market, but because of its place in football history, it really isn’t treated the same as other small markets.

Though I feel that the small market concept is less relevant in the NFL than the other major sports. The NFL is more of a national sport than the others.

• Four Touchdowns

I agree and I think great players on bad teams do get recognition and fame — I think players’ fame is more limited by the position they play than anything else.

• The small market thing is why I specifically mentioned the Steelers, whose success has increased their reach well beyond the size of the city.

Which 12 current HOF QB’s would you remove?

• I’d keep in Baugh, Luckman, Graham, Van Brocklin, Layne, Starr, Unitas, Jurgensen, Tarkenton, Staubach, Fouts, Montana, Marino, Elway, Young, Favre. Later, I’d add Peyton, Brady, Brees, and Rodgers.

That means Waterfield, Tittle, Blanda, Dawson, Namath, Griese, Stabler, Bradshaw, Moon, Kelly, Aikman, and Warner probably wouldn’t make the cut. I also wouldn’t add Eli, Roethlisberger, Rivers, or Romo. Or Matt Ryan, despite what silly ESPN articles were espousing before the Super Bowl. Honestly, I haven’t seen a QB enter the league after 2005 who I am convinced belongs in Canton one day. Maybe Cam newton, Russ Wilson, Andrew Luck, or Derek Carr will change my mind, but they have a long, long way to go.

I agree with all of this except the exclusion of Warren Moon. It is the Pro Football HOF after all, and his CFL dominance pushes him over the cut line, in my opinion (mostly because he was forced to play in Canada due to racial prejudice).

I don’t think any QB younger than Rodgers will have a HOF career. Wilson may get in because of team accomplishments, which I don’t agree with. Despite the Andrew Luck hype, he as a LONG climb to reach HOF status.

• sacramento gold miners

Agree about Andrew Luck’s long climb to HOF status, he’s lost momentum recently. In terms of the HOF, I like the saying about “asking if you can’t tell the story of the NFL without player x”. Unfortunately, I think you can tell the history of the NFL without mentioning Tony Romo.

• Richie

I think Moon is a very borderline candidate on his merits. But I feel like his pioneer status as a black QB is the extra boost that makes him a deserving inductee.

I don’t think his CFL performance should count. If they did, then shouldn’t we be looking at guys like Doug Flutie and Damon Allen?

Yep that’s what ultimately puts me in Moon’s corner. He had to overcome so many hurdles to succeed in the NFL that white QB’s never dealt with. I think CFL greatness matters at the margins – in Moon’s case those years proved that he could play, and the reason he wasn’t in the NFL had nothing to do with this talent.

• Moon and Tittle would probably be the closest to crossing over for me. In other words, if I drained the swamp, they’d be the next guys with their heads above water.

• Richie

Yeah, I have Blanda as one of the 10 least-deserving HOFers (from any position) since the merger. I have to assume he was inducted on some combination of he won 2 AFL championships, “OMG, he was a QB and a Kicker!”.

He retired 10th all-time in passing yards (behind non-HOFers John Hadl, John Brodie, Roman Gabriel and Norm Snead); and he was 13th in passing yards at the time of his election.

It’s just hard to see a HOF career in the record.

• Corey

Is it just a coincidence that your selections seem much tougher on 60-70s AFL/AFC guys than most? Of the 12 guys you’d cut, six of them are from that group. Did the AFL/AFC really not have an HoF QB (if you don’t count post-merger Unitas, which you shouldn’t since he’s not in for his post-merger contributions) until Fouts showed up?

• I just think the careers of AFL and AFC guys broke in weird ways, and it is sort of a coincidence.
Namath was never really healthy and only deteriorated.
Dawson’s best years came against a league full of questionable defenses
Bradshaw/Lamonica/Stabler/Jones didn’t have long enough peaks
Blanda showed little evidence of being a legitimately good QB

Griese reminds me of Aikman (who I left out) and Starr (who I nearly left out)

Save Blanda, I think all the guys I named who are actually in the HOF belong in the the real HOF in Canton. I just wouldn’t put them in my small Hall.

I think the NFL/NFC just happened to have better top-shelf quarterbacks over that period. Starr is the lowest man on my list and probably would miss out without his postseason achievements. Unitas is still considered by many to be the greatest QB ever. Jurgensen was considered by many contemporaries to be equal to Unitas, and probably a better pure passer. Tarkenton held the passing yards and touchdowns records for 19 years apiece, which is longer than any other holder of those records held those records. Staubach, to me, was the best quarterback of the 70s and never had a down season as a starter. The biggest dent on his legacy is that he may have been intrinsically the top QB every year, but he never produced a single season great enough to earn the AP’s MVP award or first team All Pro selection (and no one seems to care about his Bert Bell Award).

• Tom

For me, another “slight” dent for Staubach (and by dent I don’t mean “why I don’t think he’s good”) is his poor performance in Super Bowl 10 against the Steelers. I don’t think any of his four SB’s are remarkable, but they’re certainly “good”. Super Bowl 10, not so good: 2.16 ANY/A (against the Steelers, that means +0.3), 3 interceptions – at best only one was at a key moment, at worst all three – sacked 7 times for 42 yards (yes, we can blame that on the Steelers or the Dallas O-line, etc.), and a number of key incomplete passes. Obviously, he belongs in the HOF, just when you mentioned him being the “best” of the 1970’s, that game jumped into my mind as a “negative mark” for him (but not in a Craig Morton, Kerry Collins kind of way).

• It was a pretty bad game, but in his defense, the Steelers allowed 1.8 ANY/A during the season. I’m not sure it’s fair to say that’s the baseline we should use, because I am not certain just how much a defense affects a QB’s passing numbers. Either way, he looks a little better in context. Plus, I find it hard to ding a guy who goes to four Super Bowls against great defenses and plays well in three of them.

• Tom

Agreed…the Miami defense in 1971 was probably the “weakest” he faced and that was a good defense. Denver in ’77 was one of the best the league has seen (in my opinion), and the two Steeler defenses in ’75 and ’78 were both great, of course.

As I said, it’s a “slight” ding…but I stand by my assessment of his performance in that game: not horrible, but not good either; the pick in the 4th quarter when they were down by 2 was huge, the ‘Boys were lucky the Steelers only got a field goal out of that (I question Noll not going for it at the goal, for the second time in that 4th quarter, but hey, he’s Chuck Noll and I’m just some guy with a spreadsheet and the game on grainy footage on YouTube!).

Probably not indicative of his other playoff games, and in any event, no argument here as far as how great Staubach was…one of my favorites growing up, hated seeing him lose twice to the Steelers (my older brother’s favorite team, which made it worse).

• LightsOut85

I’ve never held Aikman’s passing career that highly, but when I was recently comparing QBs’ years of high ANY/A+ & years of high DVOA , I was surprised at how much better he looked with defense-adjusted numbers. (Top 5, 5 straight years – AFAIK only Peyton Manning has that matched/beat. Steve Young was a 6th-ranked away). This was during the prime of pretty much every well-known DAL player in the 90’s (91-95), but impressive/surprising nonetheless.

• He also fared quite well here http://www.thegridfe.com/2016/04/14/career-total-adjusted-yards-per-play-index-scores/ and here http://www.thegridfe.com/2016/04/01/career-ntayp-since-1992/

Those aren’t defense adjusted, but they do indicate a higher level of play than standard box scores would suggest. That doesn’t even account for the postseason, where he was generally lights out.

• Corey

Part of the knock on Aikman is that, because the Cowboys had a great running game and defense, he didn’t have to throw that much. In those five years he only averaged 425 dropbacks/year. That was low even for the era — guys like Marino, Elway, Favre, Moon were often around 600. That probably slightly inflates his rate stats.

• JoeS

The Cowboys’ D was very good, rarely actually “great”. Emmitt scored a lot of fantasy points that Aikman (and Michael Irvin) would have otherwise gotten. That’s the bottom line.

• Four Touchdowns

Has this site done an article on the best ringless QBs? Marino at the top, for sure, but I’d like to see them ranked.

• I don’t think so, but it has to be out there in the vast, wild internet. My list would go something like this, with wiggle room after the top five:
Marino
Tarkenton
Jurgensen
Fouts
Moon
Tittle
Kelly
Then some order of McNabb, Romo, Rivers, Anderson, Cunningham, Brodie, Hadl, McNair, Esiason
Then some order of Hart, Gabriel, Jones, Gannon, Brunell, Green

I don’t have a strong enough opinion on the two groups to actually rank them.

• Four Touchdowns

Damn, I’m sorry to see this guy retire. I always felt he was underrated and unfairly labeled a choker and wanted to see him enjoy some playoff success with Denver or Houston this season.

But you can’t fault a guy for putting his health above playing a game.

• Tom

He was unfairly labeled as a choker. Wish I had more time, I could do an entire post on it, but the upshot is this: his “above league average” ANY/A (is that RANY/A?) of +1.66 in clutch situations is the *highest* of any QB since 1994 (clutch situation is down by at least 1 score or tied in the 4th quarter), with a minimum of 250 “clutch” drop backs (Romo has 545 such drop backs in his career). If we look at Value – multiplying that number by the number of drop backs – it’s not even close, no one is within 175 yards of him. Check it out (I’ve left out sack data to keep this simple): https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ed2f0ded2e86b69ca7d520db4e004586616fef083a3c6f6888cb54d98970a3c4.png

This isn’t going to get him in the HOF, but it should be noted…the dude played well in the 4th quarter when his team needed a score, and yes, this is only regular season.

• James

This is so aggravating. One stupid extra point hold dictated the narrative of one of the most clutch QBs of a generation.

• Tom

Exactly. And there’s no “special sauce” in these numbers or any kind of extra research that I did, you can look this up with PFR’s Play Index. I mean, hell, he’s got 25 4th quarter comebacks, which is 14th all-time and 30 game-winning drives which is 17th all-time. Doesn’t mean he’s the Clutch King or anything, but certainly he’s not a “choker”.

Here’s a post I did earlier in the year showing the best “clutch” seasons…Romo is #2 for his 2011 season:
http://www.footballperspective.com/guest-post-quarterback-stats-in-clutch-situations-2016/

• Four Touchdowns

Well, that and playoff success. Because a QB “wills his team to win”, you see.

• Paul

Amazing that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning don’t stand out in this regard, seeing as they have the best records in the clutch.

• Tom

I assume you’re referring to the 4QC’s and GWD’s as far as “records in the clutch”, right? It is interesting…if divide their GWD’s by the number of years they played, you’d get:

Romo: 2.3 GWD/year
Manning: 3.3 GWD/year

There’s a lot to look at here, but I’m assuming if we dug deep enough, we’d see that maybe Brady and Manning made more of those “timely” plays that sacramento usually refers to, and that perhaps those two players had a little more luck than Romo.

For me, the list above doesn’t necessarily say that Romo is the Clutch King since 1994…but it convinces me beyond a doubt that he wasn’t a “choke artist”. He played well in the clutch, the numbers show it, and he has a good enough record of comebacks and game-winning drives as well.

• Paul

All true, I remember an article Scott Kacsmar posted on coldhardfootballfacts.com about the myth of Tony Romo being a choke artist. changed my perception of his “clutch” performance and lack of playoff success.

• sacramento gold miners

Just read Kacsmar’s article, and couldn’t agree more about Romo’s regular season comeback ability, along with his rise from free agent status to excellent QB. He just rarely translated that level to the postseason, and nobody has the answer why. If we’re going to bring up luck and randomness, what about the break Romo had in signing with the Cowboys in the first place?

The anti-Romo was Jim Plunkett, the Heisman Trophy winner, and former number one overall draft choice by the Patriots. Unremarkable career stats, but usually raised his level of play in the postseason, helping the Raiders win two Super Bowls.

• Tom

Yep…I’m going to look into his playoffs a bit more when I get a chance, but yeah, somehow, things just didn’t pan out for him in those games, and perhaps that “clutch ability” (if we believe in that) just didn’t carry over into the playoffs. Bummer.

• Richie

Shocked to see Marino so high on your chart, since you are only including seasons since 1994.

• Tom

Yeah, that surprised me as well…his ANY/A OvAvg is second to Romo, and he’s got a good number of GWD’s during that time as well (2.7 per year average). Not too shabby.

• Sterculius65

If he played better in the first three quarters there wouldn’t have been a need for the fourth quarter heroics…

• Tom

Of course, but I’m sure you’d agree that a QB can play well in the first three quarters and still find himself in a situation when his team needs a score, right? Remember, the other team has an offense, and they’re scoring points as well. Are you suggesting that Romo didn’t play well in the first three quarters of his games? In any event, the numbers show that, however he got there, he played well when his team needed a score.

• Tom

Man, me too…one of those dudes that you just wanted to see get a ring. Not sure why, it’s not like his life is terrible or anything, ha!

• Four Touchdowns
• Tom

Why in the hell am I feeling sorry for this guy? For Pete’s sake, he was a star NFL QB for 13 years, has a smoking hot wife and is now going to be a CBS TV analyst? Heck, if you asked him about not making it to the Super Bowl, he’d probably say, “That? Oh yeah, forgot about that. Yeah, I guess that’s a bummer” and then go back to his awesome life.

• To be fair, having a “smoking hot wife” doesn’t preclude a man from an unhappy marriage. I don’t know anything about Romo’s personal life, but I always think it’s weird when people point to the physical appearance of another man’s wife as a measure of his hypothetical happiness.

• Tom

Of course, of course. That’s all just goofing around…you know, “hey, what’s he got complain about his wife is hot!” Just being goofy. I’ve been married a long time, been around a ton of other married couples, etc., and yes, the “hot wife” (and everyone’s definition of “hot” is all over the place, like our opinions on QB’s) does *not* mean your marriage is awesome.

• Four Touchdowns

It certainly can’t hurt his happiness!

I mean, I know there are unhappy billionaires out there but I’d rather have the money than not, LOL!

• Tom

Hahaha…right. Whenever someone (usually my wife) says something like, “Well, we’re rich in the things that matter”, I always say “Yes, that’s fine, but I’d be OK with some of that other kind of rich once in a while!”

• Richie

No matter how hot a woman is; there is at least one man out there somewhere who is sick of her shit.

• I’m sure it goes both ways. I bring people of all genders and races together, because they’re almost universally sick of mine.

Is that his wife?!

• Four Touchdowns

Yep. He also dated Jessica Simpson when she was in her prime.

• Four Touchdowns

I think he had the talent to be a HOF QB but he doesn’t have the list of career achievements to qualify. I doubt he makes it in, but if he does, then Philip Rivers must go in as well.

• Corey

IMO, the biggest problem with Romo’s candidacy is that he was never truly dominant. He had a lot of top-10 seasons but he 1 top 2 and 3 other top 5s is just not a high enough peak when your candidacy is all peak. With the possible exception of 2014 (and even that year he was pretty clearly not better than Rodgers), he was never seriously in contention for first-team all-pro or MVP. You could never have argued with a straight face that he was the best QB in the league at any time. That’s a real problem when his entire candidacy is peak performance.

Warner and Esiason are good contrasts since they’re right next to Romo in the table, but they had vastly different career arcs with much higher sustained peaks. Romo can’t match anything like Warner’s 1999-01 peak (ANY/A ranks 1,1,1) or Esiason’s 85-89 (2,2,_,1,4, and Esiason ranked 2nd overall in ANY/A for those 5 years behind only Montana and ahead of Marino, Elway, Moon, Kelly). Both Warner and Esiason won MVPs and deserved it. Romo never came close. Warner just barely got in, with a big boost from his significant post-season value. Esiason never got much of a HOF hearing.

At any other position besides QB and maybe RB, this kind of consistently-very-good-but-not-dominant production would get you nowhere near the HoF. In a world with an unlimited ballot, maybe Romo should get some votes, but in our world where there are only 5 spots each year and truly dominant players at less glamorous positions can’t get in (Faneca, Owens, Dawkins etc.), there’s no way Romo should get votes. Even if his election wouldn’t be nearly as much of a travesty as the inevitable Eli Manning debacle.

• Four Touchdowns

Just to play devil’s advocate — but if Terry Bradshaw can be in there, why not Eli?

His team won two Super Bowls against the greatest dynasty of the modern era (and played well doing it, including “clutch” game-winning drives), is in the top ten all time for passing yards, top ten all time for TDs, top ten all time for completions, and has most of the Giants club records.

He’s not Mr. Efficiency or anything but I feel he’s a bit underrated (though still not elite, no matter how you spell the word).

• Terry Bradshaw’s early career seems to skew perception that he was the same QB his whole career. By 1977-78 he may have been the best player on the dynasty Steelers, and he was arguably their sole indispensable player. From 1970-1974, his ANY/A+ was 65, 89, 100, 84, and 89, indicating a generally bad to below average level of play. However, from 1975-1982, his ANY/A+ was 114, 100, 115, 127, 119, 112, 124, and 111. I think those final eight seasons are more than enough to offset the previous five.

FWIW (not much), I wouldn’t put Eli or Romo in the HOF.

• Four Touchdowns

Interesting, thanks for the info!

• Jonathan Aicardi

Also for what it’s worth, Eli Manning’s offenses averaged 18 points per game over 12 playoff games. Over his career, teams that scored between 17-19 points per game tended to win around 42-43% of their regular season games. Manning is 8-4 in the playoffs.

The suggestion that Manning deserves full credit for “winning big games” ignores simple logic. On his side of the ball, the Giants were as decidedly average in the playoffs as they were for most of his regular season career. Even a glance at football card numbers will reveal that his 8-4 record isn’t as shiny as it seems.

• sacramento gold miners

But in the playoffs, all you need is one more point than your opponent to advance. Offenses are generally facing better defenses in the postseason, and Eli has won five road playoff games enroute to two SB wins over the Patriots. He wasn’t the only reason New York won those games, but 8-4 is still very impressive.

Romo’s problem isn’t just that he never led Dallas to a SB, despite three future HOF teammates for part of that time. Two postseason wins, and zero NFC TG appearances is well below what we expect from a potential HOF QB. Romo’s postseason numbers don’t show his lack of key plays you need from the QB position on the bigger stage. From mishandling the ball in Seattle, to checking down to other receivers, Romo failed to make the plays we generally see from other future HOF QBs.

• Kaedwon

It’s impossible to compare eras like that. Bradshaw barely completed 50% of his passes and had as many INTs as TDs for his career. But he had HOF players like Swann and Harris and Webster, not to mention a defense studded with HOFs. A lot of 10-7 type wins in there. Like Bob Griese, gets a lot of undeserved credit.

• “It’s impossible to compare eras like that.”

Like what? What are you talking about, and in what way does it actually pertain to the words I wrote?

• sacramento gold miners

Bradshaw and Griese were hardly game managers, they produced in the postseason when called upon, both the Steelers and Dolphins were more run-orientated before 1977. Bradshaw took a while to develop as a passer, that’s affected his career numbers. When Miami transitioned into more of a passing team, Griese was more than ready.

• Dan

Omitting their rookie seasons, Terry Bradshaw had 206 TD passes and 186 INTs, and Bart Starr had 150 TD passes and 135 INTs. That’s 1.11 TD passes per INT for both of them. As for Hall-of-Fame teammates, Bradshaw had eight, and Starr had 10. Weird how nobody holds that against Starr the way they hold it against Bradshaw.

• jeff Vass

Eli cn at least point to winning big games. Romo, never won an important game. Rack up stats of weak regular season opposition and always lost in the divisional round of the playoffs, in some cases to teams with weaker records but real hof level qb’s.

• I wouldn’t put Eli or Romo in the HOF.

• Richie

I assume when you say “never won an important game”, what you mean is “never won a Super Bowl”?

Because he beat Detroit and Philadelphia in the playoffs. He won other games to get the Cowboys into the playoffs.

• Corey

Just to add onto what Bryan said, Bradshaw had a much higher peak than Eli did. Also, not only did Bradshaw win four rings, but he played extremely well in the playoffs. When Chase did his study a few years ago of playoff QB value, Bradshaw ranked second behind only Montana. Eli ranked 33rd. Eli has two rings but has never turned in any really superlative playoff performances.

• Tom

Not sure about Eli getting in, but if he does, it’s those two Super Bowl wins against probably the most successful franchise in the history of the league, with two game-winning drives. I’m not a RINGZ guy, but when you play well in the biggest game ever, at the moment that you have to play well and there’s no turning back…well, I think that carries a lot of weight.

• Gold Miners always cites Eli’s prominence on the leaderboards of a hallmark NFL franchise. While I don’t use that rationale myself, it’s clear that HOF voters do. He basically owns the entire Giants record book now.

By the time Eli retires, he’ll likely rank 6 in completions, attempts, yards, and TDs. He’ll probably rank in the top 15 in interceptions for good measure. He’s currently 8th among QBs in starts, and he needs two full seasons to tie Elway, plus an additional 7 and 8 to tie Tarkenton and Marino, respectively.

He was never the best QB in football, and he only has one season where he was even in the top five, but I doubt it matters at this point. He’s getting into the HOF.

• Jonathan Aicardi

I agree with Frye. I don’t think he SHOULD get into the HOF, but he very likely will. It’s doubtful that the in-depth analyses on the rise in this era of football will have caught up to him by the time he’s eligible. The fact is his two rings and voluminous career make him overwhelmingly likely to be elected, even if it took a few ballots.

This is a great point. It’s hard to consider a player HOF worthy when he was never the best at his own position. Romo has been a top ten QB his entire career, and top five for much of it. But never the best. Philip Rivers was arguably the best over a three year span (’08-’10), which in my opinion gives his candidacy a leg up over Romo.

• Renan

So for you, Big Ben should not go to the HoF, right?

• Jonathan Aicardi

The problem with this is that it implies only “X” number of QBs should be considered per era, rather than judging by context of all eras. What hurts Tony Romo, perhaps more than anything, is the unique period in which he played which featured perhaps more inner circle HOF QBs than any other era in NFL history. Romo’s era-adjusted rANY/A is in the top 20 all-time, a 70 year period, and yet 4 or 5 of his contemporaries are on that list ahead of him. The point of adjusting for era is to be able to compare him to all QBs regardless of era, not to punish him for an uneven distribution of great QBs.

• jeff Vass

IMO, the biggest problem with Romo’s candidacy is he never won a single big game and he padded his stats playing in a weak division. which explains his numbers. A true hof’er would have a few important wins on his belt. at least played in the conference championship once or twice. His best year, he got ousted by the green bay packers in the divisional round. a packers team with a weak defense.

Unless the dallas press does an all out campaign to cheapen the hall by putting him in, he should not even be considered.

this era should only produce two or three guys for the hall. Romo might be number 5.

• Paul

If he had one dominant season, such as Manning in 04 and 13, Brady in 07, or Rodgers in 11, he’d have a better case. The Hall of Fame is for the most noteworthy players of their generation, and I’m not sure Romo fits that label. A great QB, but if Rivers isn’t making it in, and if Roethlisberger is borderline, I’m not sure how Romo is more deserving.

• Tom

Agreed…without at least one Super Bowl appearance, I would think you would need at the very least one really fantastic year. He was a great QB, more than good enough to get his team to a Super Bowl, but somehow, it just never happened.

• Arin Franz

Using Pro Football Reference data, I threw these together yesterday just to gauge Romo relative to his contemporaries. Unsurprisingly, the Eagles fan I shared this with was still not impressed with his career.

• I think a big hurdle for Romo and players of his like will be the five-player-per-year limit (seven if we count “seniors”). Isn’t it going to be harder for players to get into Canton in the future, in general? It seems to me that as the years go by, the backlog of great players will only grow, and with more teams there are more great players now than there used to be compounding the effect, and so the finalist list is going to be filled with players with increasingly better resumes.

If I’m thinking of this correctly, then eventually we will have to reach a new steady state by elevating our definition of what constitutes a Hall of Famer, so it won’t be enough to just be as good as Hall of Famers from 30 years ago. We have to project what this new standard will be and compare players to that. Based on this, I don’t think Romo has much of a chance.

Anyway… just some thoughts that I haven’t completely fleshed out, so I could be way off the mark with all this.

• Tom

For anyone interested…Romo’s playoff performances:

Obviously not stellar; looks like 2014 was his year though…it doesn’t show it, but his ANY/A for the Green Bay game (the one with the disputed Dez catch) was 9.13, for the WC game against Detroit it was 9.00.

• sacramento gold miners

On the surface, you would have expected more success for Romo based on those individual games, but he either made mistakes, or didn’t make the timely plays. Those stats don’t show the Seattle fumbled FG snap, or other plays when Romo either threw to the wrong receiver, or was incomplete to the other. We has have to mention the Washington season finale of a few years ago, when Dallas had an opportunity for the playoffs with a win.

I don’t believe for a second Romo caved in the the pressure, but it just didn’t happen for him. Put Aikman in three of those tight playoff losses, and I think we see Dallas advancing at least once.

• Tom

Yep…someday if I’ve got time, I’m going to look at Win Probability for those games. WP isn’t the final word (not by a long shot), but it might identify those “timely plays” that he missed, or possibly show us that he *did* make those timely plays and others on his team didn’t, etc. Without looking at anything, I tend to agree with you that there’s a good chance he missed some crucial plays in those games.

• eag97a

I do like using WP for QBs and IMO should be part of qb evals as well. Just my 2 cents.

• Paul

Not many great defenses on that list though, so his numbers may even be inflated by poor quality of his opponents, when I have the opportunity ill have to do a defensive adjusted comparison.

But no, that’s not a poor postseason record at all.

• mrh

What happens if you do a simple weighting of your points system by number of teams: in a 32 team season, no change; in a 31 team year, multiple the points assigned by 31/32; 30 team season, 30/32; etc.? Too much work for a quick and dirty analysis?

• someguy

Could easily be argued that would lead to an over correction. Then the best QB on the planet when it was a 11 team league has the value between the 7th and 8th best today.

• You could account for this by instead using rank/n, where n is equal to the number of teams in the league at the time. That way the top QB will always get 1.00, and the n/2 guy will always get 0.50.

Here’s what that would look like for the tenth best QB in a league with n teams (this is every n since 1932):

n ….. QB10
32 …. 0.72
31 …. 0.71
30 …. 0.70
28 …. 0.68
26 …. 0.65
25 …. 0.64
24 …. 0.63
22 …. 0.59
21 …. 0.57
18 …. 0.50
17 …. 0.47
13 …. 0.31
12 …. 0.25
11 …. 0.18
10 …. 0.10
9 ….. 0.00
8 ….. 0.00

There are, of course, problems with this method too. First, the worst starter in an 8 team league would get a 0.13, while the worst starter today would get a 0.03. Sure, ranking 8th is better than ranking 32nd, but I find it hard to believe that the worst starter today is anywhere close to as bad as the worst starter in 1932. He is definitely better than 25% as good. Second, it gives more credit to the 1940s than to the 1950s, because there were 17-18 combined NFL-AAFC teams from 1946-1949 but only 12 from 1951-1959. No one who understands that era of football would agree with that.

• Richie

Has any player ever gone straight from playing to part of an “A” broadcast team? What makes CBS think he can do this.

But then, I don’t think Simms was very good. And if Romo can pronounce the word “him” correctly (instead of saying “eem”), it will be a step up.

• Richie

By my count, there are only 2 modern QB’s in the HOF who have not made it to a Super Bowl: Dan Fouts and Warren Moon. And Moon is the only HOF QB to not make it to a conference championship game. Romo would join Moon.

I don’t think Romo makes it to the HOF. At least not any time soon.

I don’t think I would vote for him, but it’s close and I could be swayed. I am not a “QB WINZ” guy, but if he could have gone to Houston for a year or two and led the Texans to a Super Bowl, I think his case would be much stronger.

• sacramento gold miners

Agree about Romo leading a different team to the SB, it would be valuable. However, Moon has at least three advantages over Romo. First, he didn’t play for a storied team like the Cowboys, Moon wasn’t playing in the shadow of George Blanda or a history of NFL titles. Even Danny White was able to lead the Cowboys to multiple NFC title games. Second, Moon was better longer than Romo, and starred in Canada before arriving in the U.S. Third, he changed the game as an African-American QB with a better career than Randall Cunningham.

Looking ahead, with strong HOF candidates on the ballot already, and more on the way with superior postseason credentials, I just don’t see it.

• someguy

I doubt he will get much of a push for the Hall of Fame. Efficiency always helps a case, but without longevity, awards, and playoff success it is not enough. He only played more than half the seasons games 8 times, has 4 total pro-bowls, never was all-pro, and never made it past the divisional round. Far outside the norm for a HoF QB even if is statistics say otherwise. He may be helped if there is a significant push of Eli though, since they were in the same division during the same time and the vast majority of people would say Romo was the better QB.

• sacramento gold miners

Agree with much of what you say, but Eli Manning has a big edge in the postseason. In fact, one could say his two wins over the Patriots were more impressive than the two earlier Giant SB victories over the Broncos and Giants. We should also remember Manning’s first six years were spent in the old, Giants Stadium. That facility was notorious for windy conditions, which affect the passing game. I don’t see Eli’s eventual HOF selection having any bearing on Romo’s case.

• Four Touchdowns

Additionally, he was in a deep ball passing system, which will reduce efficiency and increase INTs.

• Four Touchdowns

FiveThirtyEight published a piece on this topic:

“Tony Romo Was A Good QB In An Era Of Great Ones

Tony Romo entered the NFL as a humble undrafted free agent from Eastern Illinois and leaves a superstar. With his release from the Cowboys on Tuesday and the announcement that he’s joining CBS as an analyst, Romo has completed an incredible, and perplexing, career arc.

He started more games for the Cowboys than any quarterback not named Troy Aikman, went to four Pro Bowls and won the Cowboys three NFC East titles. Yet he never quite vaulted above the best QBs of his generation, and his lack of durability and postseason success complicate his legacy.

Romo’s undrafted status is often dropped as a did-you-know trivia nugget, but it’s worth pointing out how rarely a talented quarterback slips entirely through the cracks in the draft-industrial complex. Of the 43 quarterbacks who made the Pro Bowl during Romo’s career, only three other than Romo weren’t drafted. Among all four, Romo was the only one with multiple appearances. In fact, Romo is the highest-rated undrafted passer of all time.1 The only two whose totals and rate stats even compare are Warren Moon and Kurt Warner — both of whom have already been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But Romo’s résumé may not be enough for the Hall. Because the Hall of Fame’s selection committee winnows potential candidates over the course of a year’s selection cycle, players are often compared with others from their era who played the same position. And Romo’s career stats don’t stack up well against his contemporaries’.”

• Four Touchdowns

Chase, totally unrelated question but I’m curious — who are your quarterbacks, players and team(s)?

Anyone else who wants to answer, feel free!

• Does this mean “who are your favorite players, and what team do you root for?”

• Four Touchdowns

Basically, but I wanted a focus on QBs more than other positions.

• Then I’ll start. Joe Montana was the first person who was my favorite QB. When he left, it became Steve Young, and then Steve McNair. Then probably Drew Brees.

In terms of favorite players, it started with Montana, Rice, and Reggie White. Then probably McNair and Derrick Brooks. Then Walter Jones and Terrell Owens. After that, it was Patrick Willis and Troy Polamalu. Recently, I’ve really enjoyed watching Watt, Von Miller, Gronk, and Bell, even though I don’t necessarily root for them.

• Four Touchdowns

Cool. Obviously it’s Peyton Manning for me, but I really like Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson among the modern guys. All time, I like Montana, Elway, Unitas and all the other usual suspects but I have a big fondness for great QBs stuck on teams that couldn’t help them win a title — Tarkenton, Fouts, Marino, etc.

Among other players, I like Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Von Miller, Dwight Freeney, Champ Bailey, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, Emmanuel Sanders, Bo Jackson, Marshall Faulk, Troy Polamalu, John Riggins, London Fletcher, Chris Harris Jr and DeMarcus Ware.

• Interestingly, I have never heard anyone cite Garcon or Emmanuel Sanders as favorites. Or London Fletcher, even though I’m firmly entrenched in Skins country.

I’ve often liked players everyone else seems to hate. TO and Ochocinco always brought be enjoyment. I love Richard Sherman now.

• Four Touchdowns

I like Richard Sherman as well. I’ve read several of his columns and he seems like a smart, reasonable guy away from the heat of the game.

I started watching football around 2010 and then seriously around 2012. My wife got me into it, she’s a Colts fan, so I rooted for them and my best friends were Redskins fans, so I decided to follow them as well so I can root for a local team. When Manning went to the Broncos, I really got into the storyline of “can he win another ring in the limited time he has left?” and since it’s easier for me to relate to an individual than an organization, he became my main rooting interest. (In fact, his ‘stats before rings’ reputation is what got me interested in advanced analytics.)

So you see why I like a lot of the players I do — I like Fletcher because he seemed like an underappreciated version of Ray Lewis, only without the murders. I like Garcon and Sanders because they’re Manning receivers and they make really tough catches.

• I liked Fletcher for a while, but then something weird started happening: so many people kept calling him underrated that he eventually became overrated, and that kinda irked me a little. My only comparison between him and Lewis as players is that they happened to play the same position. I never saw LFB on Ray’s level.

• Four Touchdowns

Their career stats is what creates the comparison for me —

Lewis-1,336 tackles (972 solo), 41.5 sacks, 67 passes defensed, 31 interceptions, three touchdowns, 17 forced fumbles, 13 Pro Bowl selections, and two Super Bowl victories.

Fletcher-2,033 tackles (1,389 solo), 39 sacks, 92 passes defensed, 23 interceptions, two touchdowns, 20 forced fumbles, and a Super Bowl victory.

But I know those numbers don’t tell the whole story. He just wasn’t on as many good overall defenses as Lewis.

• John

2,060 tackles (1,566 Solo)
19 Forced Fumble
117 passes Defensed
102.5 Stuffs for Loss (Fletcher had 60)

Remember Fletcher played 28 MORE career games as well.

Lewis also averaged over 10 tackles per game in 21 career playoff games while adding 2 sacks, 2 int, 10.5 stuffs, 6 forced Fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 15 PDs, and 1 TD in those games.

Throw in he was an All Pro 1st Team 8 times (10 times Total) and a two time defensive player of the year. This isn’t a comparison at all.

The “murder case” was ruled a justifiable homocide (aka Self Defense) by the two co-defendants in the case.

• Four Touchdowns

Interesting, thanks.

• Ryan

Just wanted to say great discussion to all involved, my favorite football spot!

Regarding his personal life, he also dated popular country singer Carrie Underwood.

For me, I was surrounded by irrational dislike of the Cowboys and borderline hatred for Romo (maybe they were jealous!)..he became a favorite of mine to select in fantasy football and he helped in securing playoff appearances and a championship or two.

Too bad he couldn’t stay healthy or break-in earlier, the brevity of the career makes him a tough case for the HOF without post-season glory…I understand why some support and some won’t, both are defensible to me.

Good luck in retirement Tony, and may you PLEASE provide us quality color commentary!!!!!!

• mrh suggested weighing points differently based on the number of teams in the league at the time. I use mrh’s suggested method, and I also used a softer method, which is just the average of the first method and 1.00. Here’s a chart of everyone who made the top 40 in any of the three categories.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C9DfcsfUIAAWupL.jpg

As expected, older guys fall an awful lot.

• jeff Vass

all of his contemporaries are have more points, in some cases more hte double. You simple can not have 5 or 6 hof’ers from the same period. . case close. romo is a very good qb. not a hall of famer.

• jeff Vass

btw: romo is 6 point ahead of billy kilmer on this list. anyone here ever see kilmer play?

I have. in the stadium. No one who saw him play would confuse him with an hall of fame qb.