Lacking ‘It’

Tony Romo

It is official. Tony Romo is the ultimate tease.

He has the entire package, plays for the flashiest of flashy teams yet falls short of sealing the deal.

For his entire career, Tony Romo has dealt with the same old, same old – he can’t perform in the clutch. For a long time, a lot of the criticism that went Romo’s way seemed a bit too much. What is always hard for Romo is that because he dates Jessica Simpson, plays for Jerry Jones and likes to smile, people want him to fail.

Whether it is justified or not, like Lebron James in his first two seasons with Miami, fans and analysts will nitpick at anything they can find for a player they may dislike. Unlike Lebron, the disdain people have for Tony Romo the man, not the player, feels unjustified.

It is not easy being a Romo defender. I know because I’ve been doing it for quite a while now. As hot as he can get, his play will make you shiver more often than it should. I wouldn’t go as far to say that Tony Romo has the choke gene.

Rather, it is more that he doesn’t have the clutch gene.

Too frequently is the term clutch or choke thrust on a player. Most guys are probably somewhere in the middle while the odds of their big game circumstances have simply gone either in their favour or against them, prompting them to be labelled clutch or a choker.

Over the last two December’s, prior to last night’s game against the Redskins, Tony Romo had thrown 20 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. A choker doesn’t have the ability to bring his team from the depths of despair in big moments as often as Romo has. Even though his January record is virtually non-existent, he hasn’t faltered in some of the tougher situations throughout his career.

The thing is, it is as if it is in Romo’s DNA to make huge mistakes at huge moments.

Tony Romo had another John Elway type of opportunity on Sunday night with all eyes on him. Down 3 points, on his own 15 yard line, 3 minutes to go and a touchdown likely being enough put his team into the playoffs.

Simple, right?

Anyone can muff a hold on a field goal or throw a costly interception. But Tony Romo is a quarterback who, time after time, has let his team down with the kind of blunder that it is almost fitting for number 9.

That isn’t to say that Tony Romo can’t win a few playoff games or have one of those career defining drives in a championship game. If Romo ever does have a career defining drive, play or game, that moment should never be something that transforms his imperfect legacy into something that it does not deserve to be.

To a lesser degree, Peyton Manning lacks ‘it’. He doesn’t have what his brother has proven to have. Peyton won a Super Bowl MVP but it wasn’t a stellar performance by any means. Peyton Manning has become arguably the greatest quarterback of his generation not through his ability to be his best when everything is on the line but through his immense talent and smarts.

Tony Romo doesn’t have Peyton’s talent or smarts. Nevertheless, he can and has come up big in big situations because he has the elite talent that allows him to do spectacular things. However, he isn’t so good that he doesn’t suffer from a recurring case of major gaffe-itis.

Romo made the poorest of poor reads to give Rob Jackson a season killing interception. Despite the timing of the miscalculated floater, the interception wasn’t due to Tony Romo’s choking. That play was a microcosm of his career as Romo is a player who doesn’t have the capability to consistently step up when the stakes are highest.

It isn’t choke or clutch. It is who Tony Romo is.

Lebron James overcame his perceived choking propensity last season. There is nothing to say that Tony Romo can’t do the same.

What will never change with Tony Romo is that he doesn’t have what every athlete wished they had or chooses to believe they have.

‘It’.

Agree? Disagree? E-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com or reply in the comments section below.

Also, you can follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

No Surprise

Carmelo Anthony

The Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony experiment was destined to fail from day one.

Alas, the experiment is still failing.

That isn’t a knock on Carmelo Anthony or Amare Stoudemire. It’s a knock on the idiot who decided that putting those two players together with Mike D’Antoni would somehow work itself out. The New York Knicks are winning but their max contract problems haven’t gone away.

It shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone that the Knicks are winning games. They’re 20-8 on the season following their tough loss on Christmas day to the re-energized Lakers. That’s 20 wins without Amare Stoudemire and 8 losses without Amare Stoudemire.

No one has ever questioned Carmelo’s Anthony ability as a player. For much of his career, he has arguably been the best pure scorer in the association.

It was never meant to be with Mike D’Antoni trying to lead two incompatible star players. On the flip side, Mike Woodson isn’t the primary reason for the Knicks unexpected success through the first quarter of the season.

Sure, the Knicks experienced a rebirth due to the culture change provided by Woodson’s insertion as head coach near the end of last season. However, it is the injury to Amare Stoudemire that has been the jump start that the Knicks really needed. It’s not news to anyone that his absence has made the Knicks a better team.

A better team than they could ever possibly be with him on the floor.

Carmelo Anthony is no stranger to carrying teams on his back. He did it throughout his tenure in the Mile High City. By himself, ‘Melo led his teams to the playoffs in the much more competitive Western Conference.

Without Amare, why did we think it would be any different in New York?

Outside of the Miami Heat, the Eastern Conference is weaker than the 4 nerds on the Big Bang Theory. The only reason Carmelo couldn’t figure it out in New York was because he was forced to play with another star that he had no business playing with. Surrounded by a cast of players that complement rather than limit him, ‘Melo has reverted back to his ridiculously efficient scoring ways.

Going small and playing Anthony at the 4 has helped. ‘Melo’s maturation as a player and a person should be commended. It has allowed Mike Woodson to throw out these small lineups that continue to shoot the lights. However, Amare’s absence is still the biggest reason for the Knicks success through 28 games.

As a lone wolf, Carmelo Anthony was always going to succeed anywhere he played in the NBA. He may not be the leader or winner that Michael Jordan was but he can make any team a winning team all by his lonesome.

I wrote during the Knicks-Heat playoff series that Amare Stoudemire’s injury from his cartoon-like punch was possibly a blessing in disguise for the Knicks in the short-term. They were clearly better apart than together back then and it is no different now. In the long-term, the issue will remain that Amare has a max contract that is virtually untradeable.

The difference between then and now is that it is no longer a given that the two stars will have to make things work.

No one could have foreseen that the Knicks would be 20-8 but after Amare was ruled to be out for at least 6 weeks, those pre-season expectations should have been raised instead of being lessened. ‘Melo was always better without Stoudemire but everyone just assumed that Carmelo and his cast of geezers would be worse without Amare.

It turns out that isn’t the case.

The Knicks will carry on being a successful team as long as Carmelo Anthony is the lead dog. Maybe not 20-8 good or championship successful or 20-8 good, but they will be good.

That should never have been a shocker with ‘Melo running the ship.

You can follow me on Twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts.

Agree? Disagree? You can also e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com or reply in the comments section below.

Monday’s 7 Casual Contemplations

Steve nash

It’s Monday and the past weekend has filled me with some contemplations of a casual nature. I know it’s been a while but I want to start your work week off right. Without further ado, let’s get to this week’s 7 somewhat thought out points from the week that was.

Hangover Cure anyone?

For those of you who don’t believe in the Super Bowl hangover, you might want to rethink that. The New York Giants are a prime example of a team that is clearly hung over. When it comes to the Giants, it is pretty much expected that when their backs are up against the wall, the switch will suddenly turn on. They have done it so much that we assumed another typical clutch performance would come from the Giants against the reeling Ravens yesterday.

The Giants decided not to follow the script.

Instead, they gave a hapless performance and the New York Giants looked like dwarves against a Baltimore Ravens team that has been brutal on both sides of the ball in recent weeks. For a game that they almost had to have, the lack of motivation and intensity shouldn’t be all that surprising. That’s what a hangover will do to a team.

New York is still not out of the playoffs but they might as well be because this hangover thing isn’t going away anytime soon. A big performance in week 17 can’t change that.

No Doubt

The Seattle Seahawks sent a message that was louder than the fans at Century Link Field on Sunday. They are for real and are not going anywhere. Crushing Arizona and Buffalo was one thing but smoking a San Francisco team fresh off its very own statement win against New England is quite another. Along with Jim Harbaugh and Greg Schiano, Pete Carroll is squashing the notion that college coaches can’t make the transition to the NFL.

This obviously isn’t news to anyone that the Seahawks are a real threat out of the NFC. Nevertheless, the evolution of their team throughout the season has been incredibly impressive. Marshawn Lynch no longer has to carry this football team as Russell Wilson has gone from game manager to game changer in the span of less than a season. The Seahawks may lack the game breaker on the outside but that defence combined with an ever maturing offence is scary for anyone that may have to face the Seahawks in January.

If Qwest Field was still the name of the Seahawks home field, I would probably have made some lame pun about them being on a quest for a Super Bowl…but I won’t do that.

Quarterback Controversy?

Speaking of game changers, Colin Kaepernick hasn’t lost that part of his game. It is an aspect that Alex Smith will never add to his repertoire. Smith was ever so close to leading the 49ers to a the championship game last year but it’s still game changers that win Super Bowls.

Just don’t tell Trent Dilfer.

Jim Harbaugh is going with Colin Kaepernick and rightly so. The 49ers had already reached the point of no return before this week’s debacle in Seattle. Kaepernick is the starter for the foreseeable future and his performance in Seattle sure as hell didn’t change that. There is no quarterback controversy no matter what the media says, so don’t go on increasing ESPN’s page views to express your opinion on the issue. It’s a non-issue, deal with it.

Kid Canada

Following Steve Nash’s heroic return to the lineup on Saturday, the Knicks-Lakers game on the 25th is now as marquee as a matchup gets. However, the result on Christmas day still won’t be a true indicator of how realistic the Lakers championship aspirations are.

As bad as the Lakers have been, it doesn’t mean a thing without Steve Nash in the lineup and now they’re going to need a lot more time to figure it out with Nash. Their defence is still going to be a big problem as we saw in their comeback win against the Warriors but offensively the Lakers will resemble something much closer to a well-oiled machine with Nash back running the point.

Their showdown with the Knicks tomorrow is no doubt intriguing but another destruction at the hands of New York’s superior team should not be too concerning for Los Angeles.

M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!

Turn out the lights because the party is over.

Peyton Manning is the National Football League’s most valuable player and comeback player of the year. While Manning shredded the Cleveland Browns, Adrian Peterson was busy mustering out 86 very hard fought yards against the Houston Texans and Tom Brady was struggling his way through the Jaguars vaunted defense.

Peyton Manning was already the odds on favourite heading into week 16 and his performance sealed the deal.

It should be noted that as amazing as all-day Adrian Peterson has been this year, he was not the reason the Minnesota Vikings got off to their hot start in September. Remember when we thought Christian Ponder might actually be good?

The MVP has to go to Peyton Manning and Week 17 won’t change anything.

Shame Bowl

Jacksonville will be fighting the Kansas City Chiefs for the coveted 1st overall pick in April’s draft in week 17. While both teams could use a franchise quarterback, this year’s class might not be as enticing as the 2012 class that included Andrew Luck and RGIII.

Matt Barkley’s stock has fallen substantially and Geno Smith would be a stretch to take at number 1. Unfortunately for these two teams, RGIII’s and Andrew Luck’s aren’t a part of every single draft class and they’re just going to have to make do with the less than stellar quarterback class of 2013.

All hail Brady Quinn…I guess.

5 Consecutive Baby!

Canada’s team, the Toronto Raptors, are heading into the Christmas Break with a 5 game winning streak after starting the season 5-19.

I smell a championship. Book it.

You can follow me on Twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts.

Tick Tock on the Clock

Tim Tebow

The script had everything that a person could want — intrigue, drama, and a flawed main character. It was a Broadway show that had the makings of being a huge money-maker but the director decided to go another route. Tim Tebow was supposed to be the next big thing in New York but he didn’t even get the chance to be a flop.

It was reported earlier today that the New York Jets are ready to part ways with Tim Tebow. Despite all the expectations heading into the season and the plethora of ESPN coverage, Tebow’s tenure in the Big Apple was just rotten. Following the Mark Sanchez benching this week, Tim Tebow was bypassed as starting quarterback for 3rd stringer Greg McElroy. It was the last straw for Tebow and ultimately signalled the end for the former Heisman Trophy winner.

Unfortunately for Tebow and ESPN, this failure with the Jets might have signalled more than just the end of Tebow’s days in New York.

The director, Rex Ryan, obviously wasn’t comfortable with Tim Tebow having a starring role in his play. This special Tebow package that Tony Sparano designed for Tebow has yet to be found and I don’t think anyone is sure if it actually exists. The coaching staff refused to insert more Tebow into the offence despite Mark Sanchez’s consistently abysmal play. It speaks volumes to what the coaching staff thinks of Tebow.

The clock never struck Tebow time in New York and it appears as though the clock is ticking rather quickly on Tim Tebow’s opportunity to be one of the NFL’s 32 starting quarterbacks.

Although he was such a success in Denver, it appears pretty clear that Tim Tebow will never be more than a novelty in the NFL. A ploy that owners use to increase jersey sales and media hype for their team. No one, except maybe Josh McDaniels, believes that Tim Tebow can be the long-term solution for their franchise.

Nor should they.

The New York Jets had an entire season with Tim Tebow. They saw him workout, practice and play. Well, sort of play. Out of any team in the NFL, the Jets coaching staff knows Tim Tebow better than anyone else does at this point in his career. Regardless of their immense struggles, they still didn’t believe it was worth putting him under center.

They felt it would be better if Tim Tebow didn’t get a sniff at leading their Sanchize.

They knew that Tebow time can lead to short-term success. However, the possibility of short-term success would undoubtedly lead to long-term problems. The potential limited success of Tim Tebow wasn’t worth the pain of having to find a real quarterback somewhere down the road. Let’s be real, that would be an inevitability.

I mean, it has been 3 seasons and Tim Tebow still throws while rolling out to his right about as well as I can cook, which is not very well if you couldn’t guess.

To commit to Tim Tebow means committing to a completely different style of game. It means tailoring personnel to fit his very unique brand of football. It means going all-in on a system that has absolutely no guarantee of working.

After watching the Tebow experiment fizzle out in New York, teams are seeing that Mr. John 3:16 is more headache than help. Any ownership or management group that is more concerned with winning than merchandise sales won’t be willing to roll the dice on Tim Tebow. For a project as defective as Tebow, who wants to take the risk?

Everyone is learning what John Elway knew all along.

I can’t even imagine that Shahid Khan is considering Tebow as a viable starting quarterback option at this point.

Tim Tebow did not get the big break he was hoping for after he was dealt to the New York Jets. All he has left to do now is to hope that someone else sees what Josh McDaniels saw at the 2010 NFL draft.

The thing is, that ticking clock, it’s already close to zero.

You can follow me on Twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts.

Agree? Disagree? You can also e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com or reply in the comments section below.

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