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For those Dallas Cowboys’ fan calling for Tony Romo’s head and think Jerry Jones struck out in the draft by not selecting Johnny Manziel when the Cowboys were on the clock at 16, let me give you some spice to help you realize that football is the ultimate team sport.
You need more than just a capable quarterback and certainly need a quality defense to win a championship. If Super Bowl XLVIII didn’t teach you that by witnessing what a dominant defense like Seattle’s can do to a prolific offense led by a record setting quarterback (Peyton Manning), I don’t know what will?
Let me give you an example since the perception is growing by the millions out there that every win and loss should be stamped on the back of the most glorified position (quarterback) in football.
Here’s a look inside the numbers at three quarterbacks (Geno Smith), (Eli Manning) and (Joe Flacco) that put up far worse numbers in 2013, whose teams went on to win more or the same amount of games as quarterbacks that performed at a much higher level than them.
Geno Smith, N.Y. Jets (8-8) – 55.8 Cmp%, 3,046 Yds, 12 TDs, 21 Ints
Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants (7-9) – 57.5 Cmp%, 3,818 Yds, 18 TDs, 27 Ints
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (8-8) – 59.0 Cmp%, 3,912 Yds, 19 TDs, 22 Ints
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (4-12) – 67.4 Cmp%, 4,515 Yds, 26 TDs, 17 Ints
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (7-9) – 58.5 Cmp%, 4,650 Yds, 29 TDs, 19 Ints
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (8-8) – 63.9 Cmp%, 3,828 Yds, 31 TDs, 10 Ints
As you can see, Geno Smith, Eli Manning and Joe Flacco’s numbers are poo compared to the other three. So please tell me how Geno Smith, Eli Manning or Joe Flacco performed up to par or better than Ryan, Stafford or your favorite QB (Tony Romo) to heckle? Not to strip them from shining in bright spots, but If you can win Super Bowls with a quarterback that throws 20 plus or near 30 interceptions like Eli Manning and Joe Flacco that have 3 Super Bowl MVP’s combined, you can win a Super Bowl with Matt Ryan, Tony Romo or Matthew Stafford under center. This entire perception-tag that’s feasted its way in the minds of a large-herd of fans that believe the quarterback is the only player on the field that makes a difference is plain and simply ridiculous. You can have a superhuman being quarterbacking your team, but if your defense is historically the third worst defense ever to step foot on the gridiron, it’s impossible for any quarterback to have the ultimate-success and win a Lombardi Trophy.
Oh, and remember that 2003 10-6 Bill Parcells coached and Quincy Carter quarterbacked Dallas team? If you’ve forgotten what a top-flight defense can do for a below average quarterback, I have some numbers for you to zone in on.
Quincy Carter’s 2003 stats for the 10-6 playoff Cowboys: 57.8% Cmp, 17 TD passes, 21 Ints, 3,302 Yds
Now take a look at Tony Romo’s numbers above and think about what he could’ve accomplished had he had the top ranked defense in the NFL like porous Quincy Carter had in 03.
So for you fans out there that’ve been brainwashed to believing that whatever a team stands record-wise is only due to quarterback-play, how is it that Quincy Carter’s 03 Cowboys finished with a better record than Tony Romo’s recent Cowboys? I’ll tell you why, defense and having a Hall of Fame coach like Bill Parcells at the helm, unlike Tony Romo’s putrid defensive teams and not having a great coach like Parcells around long enough.
Without any doubt, the Cowboys have some serious business to do on the defensive side of the ball. Salary cap restraints hand-cuffed Jerry Jones from making big-splashes in free agency, but depth on the defensive line was added via free agency and other areas of need on defense through the draft. Jones was lucky enough to work out a friendly deal to wheel in DT Henry Melton, a much needed replacement for the departed Jason Hatcher. Giving up a third-rounder to move up to (34) in the second to draft Boise State DE DeMarcus Lawrence at least gives them a potential stud as an edge-rusher for the subtraction of DeMarcus Ware. The Cowboys added two more d-lineman DE Ben Gardner, Stanford and DT Ken Bishop, Northern Illinois in the seventh round, plus two linebackers Anthony Hitchens, Iowa in the fourth round and Will Smith, Texas Tech in the seventh round. They also tackled the backend of the defense by taking S Ahmad Dixon, Baylor and CB Terrance Mitchell, Oregon in the final round. Seven of the Cowboys’ nine draft picks came from an area that needs a major turnaround, defense.
Building from the inside out on both sides of the ball is what truly builds winners, and the Cowboys didn’t ignore that factor in the draft. Taking Notre Dame OT Zack Martin, a versatile lineman that will shift over to guard was a wise and best pick the Cowboys could make at 16 knowing that Anthony Barr, Aaron Donald and Ryan Shazier were off the board. Donald, in mine and many others opinions would’ve been the best pick for Dallas in the first round, but that would’ve had to include working out a trade and for what they had to give up, likely would’ve cost them a second-rounder.
However, here’s where I think Jones and company sort of struck out in the draft:
I’m not one that’s ignoring the fact of Romo’s back-injury and would’ve liked for Dallas to take a quarterback with experience of playing at a big time school in the later rounds. And they could’ve done that in the fifth round, a round the Cowboys drafted Pittsburgh receiver Devin Street after a trade with the Detroit Lions, sending them their 158th pick and 229th pick to move up. I don’t think this pick was necessary for them to make, even though you can always use more weapons and give Romo more options on passing downs. Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Georgia’s Aaron Murray were on the board, two quarterbacks with potential of having a successful pro career. And in the light of knocking on wood, say Romo’s back worsens this season by re-aggravating it and you have Murray or McCarron step in as a rookie and show you something promising, you might have a potential next franchise quarterback in line. Didn’t the Giants draft Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib as Eli Manning’s future potential replacement in the fourth round a year ago?
Jerry Jones and gang have made wiser decisions this offseason due to being in a cap-mess that they’ve been able to straighten out. They threw in some flexibility to where they didn’t have to necessarily kick themselves if they didn’t get the guy they exactly wanted in the draft. In conclusion to this, turning around a defense that’s an utter-mess isn’t as easy as saying your A, B, C’s and 1, 2, 3’s, but till then, the chips they’ve been stacking for Romo on the offensive line recently through the draft, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin to protect him is fine and dandy-like looking for the near future. But if the defense doesn’t improve, then the talented Romo will continue to be snake-bitten if the weight of the world remains on his shoulders. And you think “Johnny Football” would just walk right in and fix the defense and not be in the same shoes Tony’s in? Please, stop it people.
You can follow Massimo Russo on Twitter @NFLMassimo and SilverandBlueReport.com @SilverBlueRpt