Thursday, October 21, 2010

No one will ever do this as well as FJM.

But Goddamnit, I've got to try.

This post, which will only be read by Nick, is in response to two things:

(1) There used to be a really good meta-critical-sports-journo blog written by successful people from their mothers' basements called Fire Joe Morgan, which I read every day still, like a puppy looking out the window of an abandoned house hoping the family will come home and talk about how much Woody Paige sucks at journalism.

(2) Holy shit, there's still a lot of really bad sports journalism out there, which I also read every day, from my job in my mother's basement.

So here come the FJM-style posts, which again, won't be anywhere near as funny or insightful as what they did, and just to sort of differentiate myself, my first subject will be this nonsense I read a couple days ago from the front page of Cowboys QB gets raw deal in Romo-Rodgers comparison. Take it away, Elliot Harrison!

Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo have been in the news a lot this week -- Rodgers because of a concussion that puts his status for this week in some doubt, and Romo because he's the face of Super Bowl contender that is sitting at 1-3.

I like this column because it makes a lot of unsubstantiated arguments and alleges that it's what everyone's talking about. "Man, two of the most famous people at the most famous position in the most famous sport in the country have been in the news! Wonder why?!?!"

For some odd reason, these two get linked together quite often by fans, broadcasters and analysts, including NBC's Tony Dungy this week.

So the whole column from here on out is based on this little nugget. These two get linked together. They're in the news. They're quarterbacks. I mean, look, they might have been born within three years of each other, in California, considered to be in at least the top half of quarterbacks in the league, starters in the NFC, leaders of teams that were predicted before the season to be championship contenders but instead have struggled, and I mean at the very least, they're quarterbacks in the NFL so like, they pretty much all get compared to one another, but that's no reason to go linking these two together, now is it?

Dungy said "part of being a leader at the quarterback position is protecting the football. You've got to do that to be a great quarterback."

That comment is emblematic of what people don't like about Romo, and the unfavorable comparisons to Rodgers always seem to appear a few sentences later. It's easy to see why. Both are NFC quarterbacks in their early prime who had to sit on the bench for three years before getting a shot. They also play for two of the NFL's flagship franchises.

Dungy said a thing about quarterbacks. These two players are quarterbacks. I also like how he scoffs at how the "comment is emblematic of what people don't like about Romo." As if people shouldn't be so quick to dislike a guy for fumbling.

But the bigger slight is somehow not that Romo gets wrongly criticized for fumbling, but that when people talk about him and Rodgers (all the time), they always criticize Romo first, and then Rodgers...?

Also, Elliot touches on a few points that would show why people would link the two, about 15 seconds after wondering what "odd reasons" link the two.

And Romo is 30. Somehow that's the "early prime" for a man whose job it is to get eaten by Julius Peppers.

Hey, you know who gets linked to everyone else for the MOST odd reasons?

Perhaps the biggest reason lies in the fact that Romo reminds so many people of the guy Rodgers replaced: Brett Favre. He's a fun-loving gunslinger, who sometimes throws hairbrained interceptions. He comes off as somewhat of a diva, and they say he's not as good as A-Rodg.

Oh, people hate Romo because he loves fun. No sir, not for me. Give me "A-Rodg" (an un-fun nickname that reminds us of the least fun athlete ever) because he HATES fun. One time, Greg Jennings was celebrating after a touchdown pass and Rodgers threatened to cut him. He fucking hates it. That's my kind of QB.

Too bad the latter is totally wrong.

Oh, thank God, because I thought you were arguing that people think Rodgers is better because Romo has more fun, and that's just nonsen--

Ain't no way Rodgers is better than Romo. No way.

--oh, we're just making that point and moving on. Okay, cool, let's come up with some stats.

This is not to say Rodgers isn't a great quarterback. He has a sterling career passer rating of 96.4, while having thrown 68 touchdowns to only 27 interceptions. He also averages 7.7 yards every time the ball leaves his hands. Those are great numbers.

Here's where I'd like to point out that this column is based on the "odd link" between the two, and the people who say that Rodgers is definitely better than Romo (which he is), and responding that Romo is DEFINITELY the better quarterback. Remember that.

Let's take a look at that "gunslinger" Romo: 95.3 passer rating, with 114 touchdowns and only 60 interceptions -- very close to Rodgers.

YOU called him a gunslinger. No one called him that. You said that. Also, QB Rating is a quirky stat but it's generally accepted as a solid metric of how good a QB is. Which is confusing when you argue that since Romo's rating is "very close" to Rodgers's, that helps your argument that Romo is better.

Now, let's just get silly.

But Romo gets more bang for his buck, averaging 8.1 yards per attempt during his career. That's higher than any quarterback in the NFL. Higher than Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and yes, Rodgers. Give me a quarterback who throws the ball down the field over a dink-and-dunker any day of the week.

Okay, so a high yards-per-attempt average, that's cool. But... that's what you're using to make your argument? He has the highest YPA? I mean, keep in mind, Rodgers had a pretty shitty '08 Green Bay team, which was also his first season starting, and he still had a great season. Romo's had a winning record all four of his starting seasons, which to me indicates he played with a better team around him. He also hasn't been sacked 50 times in a season like Rodgers, meaning he has more time to let plays develop and get more yards per attempt. Also this argument is stupid when we click two buttons:

2009 "Dink and dunker" Aaron Rodgers: 8.7 YPA
2009 Gunslinging YPA master Tony Romo: 8.2 YPA

Still, Rodgers and Romo have nearly identical numbers. That said, stats have never been the measure of a great quarterback. Wins have. Surely, Rodgers must blow away Romo in this category, right? Wrong. Romo has won two out of every three starts, while Rodgers is hovering around .500.

No, wins are the measure of a good team. Like, you know how Rodgers' first season, his team sucked? He had a 93+ QB rating and his team won six games. Or like that playoff game he gets blamed for when he fumbled in overtime but it was like 150-150 at the time and if the defense had made one stop, ever, he wouldn't have been in that position.

Besides, Romo has played in ~twice as many games as Rodgers, so it's horribly disingenuous to compare their numbers straight up.

Romo: 55 starts, 16,611 yards, 117 touchdowns, 62 interceptions
Rodgers: 32 starts, 10,347 yards, 69 touchdowns, 28 interceptions.
Rodgers prorated to 55 starts: 17,783 yards, 119 touchdowns, 48 interceptions.

Romo throws an interception 3% of the time. Rodgers throws an interception 2% of the time. With how much guys throw now, that's an extra interception every two games.

Or, you know, you could blindly call those numbers "nearly identical."

So Romo's stats are comparable to Rodgers,

-- No, they're not --

and he's won a far higher percentage of his games.

Yes, over the past few seasons, Dallas has been overall better than Green Bay. But how much are we really awarding him for Barber and Jones combining for 1600 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground in 2007? He also had a T.O. popcorn year (81/1355/15) to help him out, and one of the best seasons ever by a tight end (Witten: 96/1145/7).

Also, DeMarcus Ware had 14 sacks.

But whatever, all of these wins created only and solely by Romo aren't even the point. The point is:

That's great, but it still might not be enough for his detractors. The all-too-common epitaph on Romo's career was this Einstein-esque factoid: Romo hasn't been a winner in the playoffs. True that. He's 1-3 as a starter in the postseason. But Rodgers hasn't won any.

True that. Word. 'Cept homes, I got beef with that. Romo is a playoff choker who blew an easy hold. Rodgers has started two seasons: One year, his team sucked, last year he went 28/42 for 423 yards (!!!), four touchdowns, one interception, 13 yards rushing and a touchdown (!!!!!!!). Christ. How did he lose this game?

Oh right, he doesn't play defense and Kurt Warner threw five touchdowns. I think we can all agree that that lose is not the fault of one Master Aaron "A-Rodg" Rodgers.

Of course, Rodgers has only played in one playoff game.

Right, 423 yards and four touchdowns.

But that brings up another point of contention:

This thing I said is another very good point:

Part of being a great quarterback is getting your team to the playoffs, or at the very least, having a winning season. Rodgers went 6-10 in his first season as a starter, after having all offseason and training camp to prepare. Romo went 6-4 his first season as a starter, despite being thrust into the lineup when Bill Parcells decided to bench Drew Bledsoe at halftime against the Michael Strahan-led Giants. To that point of the season, Romo might've gotten 10 percent of the snaps to prepare, as opposed to Rodgers, who had an entire playbook built to his strengths.

Yikes. Okay. So first off: no.

Second, come on, man. I know a great QB helps his team win, but A-Rodgey wasn't going to take the helm and start winning right away. And even still, GB lost games in '08 where they put up 24, 27, 29 and 31 points. With an average defense, that team goes 10-6. Oh, also, the 29 was in a loss to the Saints when Rodgers gave up 51 on defense. How dare he!

The success of Romo's initial season and Rodgers' first has little to do with the talent around them. Those 2008 Packers had Donald Driver, Ryan Grant and Greg Jennings. Green Bay went 13-3 the prior year under Favre's direction, before going 6-10 with Rodgers. Can you imagine if that had been Tony Romo? Lieutenant Aldo Raine would've taken a cheesegrater to his head.

(A) Lt. Aldo Raine is a year-old reference to "Inglorious Basterds." This was written in 2010. Also: What?

(B) Do you even bother to look back and do research? Rodgers keeps losing games where his offense puts up 30+ points because his defense sucks. He doesn't play defense. Stop writing.

(C) Aldo Raine?!?!?!?!

Same deal with the playoffs. Rodgers put up very impressive stats in his one and only playoff game vs. Arizona last season, throwing for 423 yards and four touchdowns. But he missed a wide-open Greg Jennings in overtime on a play that easily could've gone for a touchdown, and his fumble deep in Green Bay territory lost the game. Few fans pinned the loss on A-Rodg, blaming the Packers secondary instead for not covering anyone all game -- rightly so. But what if that had been Romo? He could have Marino'd the Cardinals into oblivion with 600 yards passing and nine touchdowns, but if he committed the same mistakes Rodgers made, he would've gotten a plyboard to the face from David Spade and NFL analysts alike. Their situations are totally different.

"What about that time Rodgers played great but the defense blew it? Yeah, it was the defense's fault. But Romo would have thrown for 600 yards!!!! David Spade."

Yeah, he played a great game, but what about that time in overtime when he'd already accounted for five touchdowns but his defense couldn't stop anyone and he missed one pass? That's MUCH worse than botching a hold on a gimme field goal.

And of course, no one has ever thrown for more than 527 yards or 6 touchdowns in a game, but Romo could have thrown for 600/9 (!?!?!!?!?!?!?).

What's with adding a random, strange entertainment reference into these? Even Abe Vigoda thinks it's weird!!!

Situation, or the environment in which these two great players started their career, has everything to do with why Rodgers is perceived so positively and Romo lukewarmly (at best). When Favre retired for the 37th time, fans were so ready to move on that they gave the likeable, polite, Rodgers a free pass. Despite being a first-round pick, and given every chance to succeed, fans were pleased as punch when Rodgers proved to be a productive quarterback in 2008.


Also, LOL Favre retired a lot, didn't he? Isn't his about how Romo is unequivocally better than Rodgers?

So people wanted Rodgers to succeed = Romo is better?

Conversely, Romo was given every chance to get cut. In fact, had Quincy Carter not failed a drug test, Romo would've likely been released in 2004. The Cowboys already had Carter (the starter), Vinny Testaverde (a Parcells guy), and Drew Henson (a highly touted prospect). Romo was the odd man out. But history played out as it did, and Romo outplayed everyone. The undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois took the team to the playoffs and made the Pro Bowl, setting the bar so high that he ensured himself of never getting a free pass.

God bless America.

He took his team to the playoffs (Rodgers did too) and made the Pro Bowl (a useless popularity contest), setting the bar so high (for: ???) and "never getting a free pass," which is gobbledeegook.

The dropped snap in the wild-card game vs. Seattle in the 2006 season didn't help. Nor did going to Mexico with Jessica Simpson the weekend before the divisional playoffs. But how many starting quarterbacks are asked to hold for kicks these days? And no one would care if Rodgers started hanging out with Meryl Streep, or Merril Hoge for that matter.

Blowing a playoff game didn't help, but it did make him a better playoff qb than Aaron Rodgers. I'd like to imagine that Elliot Harrison had a brain aneurysm halfway through this column and just couldn't stop himself.

Random entertainment references in this column now: 3 (Merril Hoge doesn't count as an entertainment reference, in case anyone was wondering).

Dating Simpson is where a lot of the Romo-hating started, with much of the venom coming from fans who have the vacation time but no Jessica to spend it with. But don't forget, Dallas had a bye that weekend, and Romo had to spend it listening to Jessica talk about Golden Retrievers and Prada bags. Not exactly a vacation.

Elliot Harrison, who was there at the time [citation needed], thinks it was OK, because Jessica spent the entire time talking about dogs and purses. So it wasn't a real vacation. This is nonsense.

And wasn't this about why Romo is better than Rodgers?

That said, everything but Romo's performance as a quarterback on the field sticks to him.

Which is unfair because: ???

He has the same numbers as Rodgers,

Not true.

has won a sizably larger percentage of his games,

Not really true.

and like his Packers contemporary, makes unbelievable plays.

And this was talked about when?

These guys should be spoken of together, but only in the sense that they are two of the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL, with plenty of good days ahead of them.

This article should be thrown out, but only in the sense that it should be lit on fire and used to wipe a butt first.

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