Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo Sets Tone For Elite QB Play

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Despite injuries to key receivers and a questionable offensive line, Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo had a stellar performance against the St. Louis Rams to set the tone for the regular season.

I spent a lot of time yesterday (Mon Aug 27th) reviewing the  tape of the San Diego and St Louis games. I also spent a lot of time studying other teams from around the league. As a result, I remembered  when I did my previous story, I put my foot in my mouth by saying with the way this offensive line has been playing, I don’t expect to see Tony Romo at the top of my list any time soon. Well, he is. This brings me to why I gave this article the title I did.

One of the most common words used by NFL analysts from the TV networks and other media outlets, when describing quarterbacks, is elite.  This word is used far too loosely. In fact, it is used incorrectly in many instances. Based on the way most people use the term, it suggests that the only criteria for being an “elite quarterback is winning a Super Bowl.

Let’s take a look at what elite” really means. The definition is as follows:

World English Dictionary

elite or élite (ɪˈliːt, eɪ-, ɪˈliːt, eɪ-)

— n

1. ( sometimes functioning as plural ) the most powerful, rich, gifted, or educated members of a group, community, etc

2. Also called: twelve pitch a typewriter typesize having 12 characters to the inch

— adj

3. of, relating to, or suitable for an elite; exclusive

Given the different definitions of the word, logic suggests that when “elite” is used to describe the performance of a football player, it should mean:  “a player who is one of the most ‘gifted’ of their group (NFL).”

The question is:

Just because a quarterback has a Super Bowl ring, does that really mean he is among the most gifted?

The answer is obviously “no”.  No quarterback can go out on to the field by himself and win a game. Football is, was, and always will be, a team sport. If a QB who throws 50 interceptions a season,  manages to win a Super Bowl as a result of turnovers, good defense and/or a solid running game, are you going to classify him as elite? Of course not.

What is accomplished as a team (winning a Super Bowl), should not be used as a criteria for defining a quality like “elite” that only relates to the abilities of one player in relation to other players in his group.

A much better indicator of “elite” or the “most gifted in the group”, when talking about NFL QB’s, is the overall passing efficiency of the individual QB’s.

In my opinion, for a QB to be considered elite, he will need to be able to improvise, adapt and overcome. His performance has to prove that he is among the ‘most gifted’ as an individual, independent of any team success his franchise may enjoy as a result of having a good team.  I am eating a bit of crow right now, because in spite of the the Cowboys being ranked 28th in the NFL in rushing, the poor play of the offensive line, and having his top 3 weapons (Austin, Bryant, and Witten) on the sideline, Tony Romo still managed to look adversity in the eye and overcome it. With a banged up offensive line and rookie WR’s, he not only set his team up for the win while facing extreme pressure from the defense, but he also posted an extremely impressive passer rating of 151.4.

Before we take a look at the list of QB’s for this week, remember that whenever the word “elite” comes up, the QB’s who are normally mentioned – Aaron Rogers,  Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Ben Rothlisberger, Peyton Manning, and most recently Eli Manning – have all won Super Bowls.