NFL Truths: T.O. a Big Part of Romo's Problem

Jason WhitlockCorrespondent IDecember 11, 2008

The NFL Truths are back, and they include a little bit of everything, including my long list of pathetic excuses for my Ball State Cardinals losing to an inferior team.

10. Tony Romo is starting to develop quite the reputation: big-game choke artist.

His three-interception afternoon against the Pittsburgh Steelers sparked a couple of friends to text me disparaging remarks about Jessica Simpson's boy toy.

"Romo most overrated QB n history!"

"Don't get Romo hype. Sucks."

I like Romo and have a theory that he's just the latest talented QB to be undermined by a dysfunctional, bipolar relationship with Terrell Owens. It's just a theory. I'm not ready to swear to it.

But T.O. and his sideline histrionics wear on a quarterback. He's like the hot stripper you tried to clean up and convert into a real girlfriend. It's a lot of fun until the moment she has her second drink while out to eat with your parents. You unravel quicker than she does.

Romo appears to come unglued in December when the outcomes mean the most.

In three seasons as Dallas' starter, Romo's numbers the final four games of the regular season and playoffs are rather revealing. The Cowboys are 3-8 in those games. Romo has tossed 12 TDs and 15 INTs. His completion percentage drops to 58, a full six points lower than his career average.

Throw in his fumbled PAT snap in the Seattle playoff loss — his first season as a starter — and it's easy to argue that Romo struggles in the clutch.

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It's probably unfair, but I blame T.O. The environment he creates with all of his ranting and raving is not one conducive to consistent QB play. Can we agree that Joe Montana was the best big-game QB in NFL history? Do you remember Jerry Rice acting like a deranged idiot on the sideline?

You can't turn a T.O. into a housewife.

9. Speaking of Owens, it's not surprising that I completely disagree with his assessment of Keyshawn Johnson's broadcasting abilities.

This week Owens called Johnson and Emmitt Smiff "dumb and dumber." Johnson and Smiff work for ESPN and have been critical of the underachieving Cowboys in recent weeks.

Look, I have no idea why Smiff would ruin the classy reputation Emmitt Smith built as a running back and dancer. Will Smith not share his NFL and "Dancing with the Stars" money with Smiff?

Whatever, I'm off topic. Johnson is blossoming into a broadcasting superstar. Once he masters the art of self-deprecating humor, Johnson could become the Charles Barkley of football.

It bothers some people that Johnson is a bit of a hypocrite. He routinely blasts Owens and others for behavior he once demonstrated as a receiving diva. It doesn't matter. Johnson is an analyst now. His criticisms seem fair, accurate, authentic and informed. Last week he suggested there was a breakdown in trust between Romo and Owens and that lack of trust explained why Romo looked to Jason Witten on critical downs. That's good stuff.

I like the whole NFL Countdown crew, but Chris Berman, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson could be the equivalent of Ernie, Kenny and Charles.

8. A friend who works in the mailroom at the Miami Dolphins football complex intercepted this letter intended for linebacker Joey Porter.

Dear Joey:
We just want to thank you for doing your part to promote the idea that young black men should arm themselves with handguns and shoot each other at the first sign of trouble. We watched your recent TV interview discussing Plaxico Burress' overhyped and harmless mishap. As you know, Plax's accident was a total fluke and aberration. Black men don't shoot themselves with handguns when they're at nightclubs drinking. They shoot each other. The focus on Plax is much ado about nothing. Concealed handguns, alcohol and your attitude will keep the black-on-black crime rate strong!
Thanks again,
Imperial Grand Wizard David Duke

7. The Baltimore Ravens have surrendered 20 total points in their last three games, and Ray Lewis is in the process of cementing his legacy as the Dick Butkus of the modern era.

Ray Ray and Butkus are the standard for middle linebacker play. Lewis has been putting it down for 13 years. He's carried the franchise for more than a decade. He's ferocious, intimidating and productive at 33. And he has the Ravens in serious playoff contention.

Will Lewis be a bigger legend than Butkus? I'm not sure. Playing in Chicago helped Butkus. It's sad to say, but maybe Ray's off-the-field troubles will enhance his legend.

6. Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles finally won a close game, beating the Giants by six points.

Before the victory over New York, the Eagles had won their previous contests by 35, 9, 14, 13, 19 and 29. That's an average margin of nearly 20 points. Meanwhile four of Philly's five losses were of the single-possession variety. The Eagles lost to Dallas by 4, Chicago by 6, Washington by 6 and New York by 5.

My point is the Eagles are not a horrible team. They had a chance to win every game but one this season (36-7 loss to the Ravens). If the Eagles sneak into the playoffs, they're a very difficult out.

5. After spending much of the offseason campaigning for Brett Favre to return to Green Bay, I'm quite happy the Packers are 5-8 and pretty much out of the playoff picture. However, Aaron Rodgers isn't to blame for Green Bay's disappointing season.

It's Ted Thompson's fault.

After being a sturdy strength a year ago, Green Bay's defense has withered thanks to Thompson's neglect. Green Bay Post Gazettecolumnist Mike Vandermause does a nice job pointing out Thompson's incompetence here.

Vandermause points out that Thompson has used just five of Green Bay's 20 draft picks in 2007 and 2008 on defensive players, and only one of those players is a starter.

Vandermause doesn't speculate about Thompson's motive. I will. When you spend two years plotting the overthrow of Brett Favre, you bend over backwards trying to make sure that his successor has all the tools necessary to be a wild success.

Why else would Thompson draft Kansas State receiver Jordy Nelson with Green Bay's first pick in 2008? I love Jordy. He's going to be a terrific pro. But the Packers were stocked at receiver. It wasn't remotely a position of need. Jordy was Favre insurance.

4. On Monday, Buccaneers defensive tackle Ryan Sims made his first start since the 2005 season. On Monday, Carolina running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combine to rush for 301 yards.


Not if you followed Sims' Kansas City career. After Sims' five seasons in Kansas City, I'm not sure why any team would give him a contract as a backup. Monte Kiffin is supposed to be some sort of defensive genius. I'd love to hear him explain what makes Sims an NFL-caliber defensive tackle.

3. There's a joke among comedians that George W. Bush screwed up so bad as president that he made it possible for America to elect its first black president. Cleveland comedians might crack a similar joke about Romeo Crennel.

Romeo is so bad that Clevelanders are giving real thought to supporting the idea of bringing back Marty Schottenheimer as head coach.

Damn! Someone in Cleveland needs to ask why Marty always looks best in the rearview mirror. Seriously, football fans in San Diego and Kansas City also reminisce about Marty's wonderful regular seasons.

Are regular seasons more important than playoffs? And if so, why are so many people demanding playoffs in college football?

2. I'm going to stick to the facts about the derailed bandwagon I was driving for my Ball State football Cardinals, losers to Buffalo in the MAC title game.

A. I predicted the Cardinals would go 12-0, and they did. I never mentioned 13-0. Check the original column.

B. Typical inept MAC officiating stole a Quale Lewis touchdown that would've given my Cardinals a 10-point lead in the third quarter and put the Buffalo Bulls away.

C. The MAC is stupid for holding its championship game in Detroit at Ford Field. It's a terrible environment for a poorly attended college game.

D. Ball State forfeited its emotional advantage when it announced it wouldn't travel to Idaho to play Boise State in the Humanitarian Bowl. That decision ensured the players would be flat in the MAC Championship.

E. Nate Davis had the flu and didn't play with his normal amount of high-energy enthusiasm. He's still the best pro quarterback in the college game.

F. If Ball State president Jo Ann Gora treated the football coach the way she treated the women's basketball coach, my Cardinals would make an even stronger BCS run next season.

G. Everything I saidabout The World Wide Misleader is 100 percent factual.

1. Whew, the shine wore off Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell quick.

Clinton Portis might have thought he was taking a shot at Zorn this week when he blasted Washington's head coach during a radio interview. The reality is Portis ensured that Zorn will be looking for a scapegoat for Washington's collapse. And Campbell will fill that role nicely.

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