Tony Romo and Phillip Rivers are two franchise QBs. They are both leaders of very talented teams, who rally around them to win games.
Romo came to the NFL in 2003.
He played his college ball at Eastern Illinois, winning several awards in the 1-AA division, though they weren’t enough to make him get drafted. Shortly after the 2003 Draft he was signed by the Dallas Cowboys, his current team.
Romo is a real highlight machine. With his gunslinger mentality, he flashes very good mobility and pocket presence, escaping the rush very often and making a play. His numbers are impressive to, as he’s thrown for over 10,000 yards and 81 TDs in two and a half seasons as the starter, with a remarkable QB rating of 94.7.
Phillip Rivers had a very different story.
He played his college ball at NC State, where he shattered almost every passing record of his school and the ACC. He was selected with the fourth pick of the 2004 Draft by the NY Giants, and traded on draft day to the Chargers, where he is the current starter.
Rivers has also put up big numbers so far, throwing for over 10,000 yards with 72 TDs in only three seasons as starter, and posting a impressive 92.9 QB rating while at it.
While coming from very different backgrounds, these two have a lot more similarities than the mere fact that they are both NFL starting QBs.
Both of them had to wait some time holding clipboards for a few years on the bench. Both possess a funky side-armed throwing motion, showing average at most arm strength and both had their breakout year in 2006.
But the other similarities between them are what caught my attention.
First, both players are known to be a bit immature. While Rivers has been seen several times taunting opposing team's QBs and yelling at his teammates, coaches, opponents fans, and even San Diego fans. It is well known that Romo likes to party. Romo is seen on a regular basis in the Dallas nightlife with his superstar girlfriend Jessica Simpson.
Second and most importantly, they both have the tendency to choke when it really matters, in the playoffs.
Romo, in his first postseason game, after the 2006 season, botched the hold for the game-winning kick in the final minutes of the game against Seattle.
In 2007, after leading the Cowboys to the first seed in the NFC, Romo lost to Eli Manning and the Giants in Dallas. It was the first time in NFL history that the first seed of the NFC was eliminated in the Divisional Round.
Rivers lost to the Patriots in the Divisional round in 2006, a game where he lost a fumble and threw one INT.
Then in the 2007 postseason he showed improvement beating the Titans. Then he was saved by Billy Volek, who lead an impressive winning drive in the last few minutes, to beat the Colts in the following week, a game where he yelled at Colts fans on his way to the locker room.
In the AFC Championship Game, Rivers lost to the unbeaten Patriots.
In the 2008 season, Rivers was the nation’s top passer, with a QB rating of 105.5, but again, failed to take the team to the big game, losing to the Steelers in the Divisional round of the playoffs. In this last game, despite throwing for over 300 yards, Rivers failed to keep his offense on the field in the second half, as the Chargers had only 15 seconds of possession in the 3rd period!
So as both quarterbacks show the ability to lead their teams to the offseason, they are yet to lead them to the big game, i.e. playing when it really matters.