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.

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No Such Thing as Overpaying

It had to be done.

The Washington Redskins were in a bidding war that they happily won. Their prize is the most electrifying and talented quarterbacks to come out of college since Michael Vick. The Redskins may have given up a lot of draft picks but this sacrifice was one with the future in mind.

For a franchise quarterback, there is almost no such thing as overpaying.

There are no guarantees in life. Robert Griffin III could very well be the next Ryan Leaf. He could be the next Alex Smith. Heck, I don’t even think Nostradamus were alive today he could tell us what’s in store for RGIII. Nevertheless, the Washington Redskins are doing the right thing.

I could go on for days about the follies of risking the future for the now. I chastised Hue Jackson for acquiring Carson Palmer. I questioned Julio Jones prior to Thomas Dimitroff’s draft day gamble. I lamented over Randy Moss’ return to Minnesota in the Brett Favre era.

However, this is different. It’s apples and oranges, cats and dogs, Toyota’s and Lexus’. Well, you get the picture.

Unlike the Hue Jackson led Raiders, the Redskins have not forfeited their future for a small window of opportunity. The Redskins gave up bits of their future to create a garage door sized opportunity for their franchise. Mike Shannahan and Co. may already be better off right now because of Robert Griffin but they have also put themselves in an extraordinary position for the next decade.

The NFL is a quarterback driven league. There is no denying it. Make whatever you want of the new rules but the fact of the matter is that the quarterback is king. Without a quarterback, you have about as much as chance of winning the Super Bowl as you do the lottery. It’s not overpaying if you’re solidifying the future of your franchise.

The league was a bit different back in the day but Mike Ditka should have known that a running back doesn’t lead a franchise to championships when he sold the farm, his house and the shirt off his back for Ricky Williams. Wide Receivers, they aren’t much different. They’re a dime a dozen.

Great quarterbacks, on the other hand, aren’t easy to get like an over the counter drug.

I’m not here to dissect RGIII’s tools but the Redskins are getting a guy with all the physical weapons to go along with an outstanding pedigree. His mother and father, both lawyers, have no doubt passed their intellect and work ethic onto their son. You see it in the way Griffin speaks and carries himself. This isn’t Ryan Leaf or Jamarcus Russell version 2.0, at least, no chance for the same kind of bust.

In a division as tough as the NFC East, the Redskins need a quarterback better than Rex Grossman and Jon Beck. They need a franchise quarterback to compete with Eli Manning, Michael Vick and Tony Romo. They couldn’t sit and wait for a player like Ryan Tannehill to develop for the next few years, hoping that one day he turns into a star when they had the opportunity to make the trade that they made yesterday. With quarterbacks, you have to go with as close as you can get to the sure thing.

Robert Griffin III just happens to be as close as it gets for the Washington Redskins.

I wouldn’t call giving up three 1st rounders and a 2nd round pick gutsy. I call it necessary.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Saints Bounty Scandal Overblown

Let the vilification begin. The Saints are on their way from being seen as, well, saints to scoundrels. The team that boosted the morale of the city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina aren’t so angelic after all. The halo hovering over Sean Payton are now devil horns grotesquely protruding from his head.

The severe punishment the Saints will undoubtedly receive is justified. However, the accompanying public slander is not.

Don’t get me wrong, the bounty system is despicable and I’m not talking about those cute little characters from the animated movie. In a game where violence is already front and center, adding a monetary incentive to hurt opposing human beings is downright heartless.

I am all for Roger Goodell’s stance on eliminating head shots from the game of football. The NFL may be a little sissier in this era but for the long-term health and safety of the players who don’t understand enough about the issue to help themselves, the increased sissiness is well worth it.

The New Orleans Saints have to be penalized severely for this bounty scandal. The NFL has to do it to send a message around the league as it has done with head shot artists like James Harrison. If it takes a couple of draft picks a million bucks that is fine by me.

What I won’t stand for though is the defamation of the Saints. Similarly to the UCLA incident earlier this week, the Saints are going to be seen in a light that they don’t deserve. It isn’t right that UCLA basketball players were doing ecstasy at raves or that star players were receiving excessive preferential treatment. The problem with the Sports Illustrated story was that it made out UCLA to be the only team in the country to have those issues.

That shouldn’t happen for the New Orleans Saints either.

The sad fact of the matter is that the bounty program is an old practice in the NFL. Gregg Williams didn’t invent it in 2009. Heck, the Washington Post reported that the Washington Redskins had a bounty program under Gregg Williams as well. The famous bounty bowl games in 1989 where Buddy Ryan had bounties placed on quarterback Tory Aikman and kicker Luis Zendejas are the most famous instances of this practice.

It’s an age-old system that certainly still takes place across the NFL. The Saints just happened to be the team that got caught.

Brett Favre’s comments on the subject speak volumes considering he was one of the biggest targets of the Saints bounty scandal. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered up $10,000 to knock him out of the NFC Championship game in 2009. Favre took some brutal shots that very much bordered on the illegal variety that game. Nevertheless, Favre was not upset, noting that that bounties are simply a part of the game. The ageless wonder stated that “said or unsaid, guys do it anyway.” “I’m not pissed. It’s football.”

Like steroids, because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right but vilifying the Saints alone isn’t warranted. I’m no NFL insider but this is surely a practice that is understood by players around the league as not being uncommon and possibly the norm. Listen to what Brett Favre is saying. He wasn’t the least bit surprised.

Everyone seems to be placing this scandal on a different level than Spygate. The title of John Clayton’s article on ESPN is “Saints bounty story worse than Spygate.” I don’t see it that way. To the best of my knowledge, the filming of opposing team’s walkthroughs is not one of those unsaid things that teams around the league do. I’m thinking Brett Favre would be more than a little bit pissed if he had been told that the Saints had been videotaping his team’s signals.

Who knows, Spygate might have been the reason behind a Super Bowl victory or two for the New England Patriots. Other Super Bowl champion teams aren’t doing that kind of thing. If we are strictly talking about integrity of the game, this bounty scandal can in no way be worse than Spygate.

A tarnished legacy for doing what other teams are doing and have been doing for years isn’t fair. Do we really know that the Minnesota Vikings didn’t have a bounty program as well in 2009? Sure, it’s naive to believe no one other than the New England Patriots have at least attempted to cheat the game using comparable methods but nothing has come out since 2008. The Washington Redskins have already been outed for their bounty program of the past. How much more is out there?

Hopefully Roger Goodell sends a message loud enough so that these bounty programs can finally be put to a halt. Player safety is the number one priority. Give the Saints the chair so to speak.

Just don’t let it ruin the their reputation.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Beware of the…Redskins?

The Donovan Mcnabb led Redskins showed a lot of positive signs Sunday Night

The Washington Redskins may not have provided us with the most dominating performance of the NFL’s opening weekend but it was indeed a noteworthy performance.

Take a look at the box score from Sunday night’s game and you might be unable to comprehend how in the world the Redskins were able to steal a 13-7 victory against a supposed high-octane Dallas Cowboys offence. However, throughout the game much of the Redskins squad showed that they may be a team to be reckoned with as the 2010-11 season moves along.

Wait, seriously??? Yes folks, I am talking about THE Washington Redskins.

Let’s start with one of the most talked about acquisitions during the offseason.

Although Donovan Mcnabb threw for under a 50% completion rating at 15 of 32 for 171 yards and no touchdowns, there were times when the 34 year-old Donovan actually looked like primetime Donovan. He was moving around much better in the pocket than we have seen in the last couple of years, which could partly be due to Mcnabb’s conscious effort to reduce his weight over the offseason. He was sacked only once in the game, had a nice run for 17 yards in the first half and Mcnabb showed off his arm with some crisp passes to Santana Moss and Chris Cooley throughout the game. Some positive signs from a supposed aging quarterback.

Now we should all know that a quarterback is nothing without some help from his offensive line, and this Washington O-Line anchored by rookie left tackle Trent Williams gave Mcnabb very ample protection throughout the night. Even Though Trent Williams did give up the Cowboys only sack of the night — to Demarcus Ware mind you — and was called for a crucial false start with his team 3rd and 2 late in the 4th quarter, the Redskins staff must be flying high after making the choice to take Williams over Seattle Seahawks first rounder Russell Okung.

It might be a cliché but defence does win championships and the Washington Redskins defence stepped up big time in their season opener. I don’t really care that the Dallas Cowboys offence looked not much better than it did during its four pre-season games. When your offence features Tony Romo under center, 3 quality receivers in Miles Austin, Roy Williams, and Dez Bryant, and 3 quality backs in Felix Jones, Marion Barber, and Tashard Choice there has to be something on the other side of the ball that is making your offence look rather ordinary. It was no fluke that a defence led by the 13 tackles of Laron Landry held the Cowboys to only one touchdown all night. Not to mention scoring their team’s only touchdown. Even the $100 million man Albert Haynesworth was showing some serious fight in the second half. I’m not trying to say that the Washington Redskins are going to win a championship this year but the defence was definitely a big plus Sunday night.

I’m not sure how many times I heard Cris Collingsworth say “This looks like a Mike Shannahan offence” throughout the course of the game but make no mistake, a Mike Shannahan run team is going to be run a whole heck of a lot better than one run by Jim Zorn.

Throughout his time in Denver, Mike Shannahan made his backfield of nobodies into somebodies. His current feature back, Clinton Portis, rushed for over 1500 yards in his two seasons in Denver under him but was traded for star cornerback Champ Bailey. With the Redskins Clinton Portis having averaged around 1100 yards a season and about 4.1 yards per carry in his time with Washington, it is probably an understatement to brand Portis as a disappointment so far. And even though he is reaching the twilight of his career at the age of 29 and had a less than stellar evening rushing 18 times for 63 yards, Portis did give us some signs that he could return to his old form. One instance that comes to mind was when Portis moved the chains on 1st and 10 but the play was negated due to a Chris Cooley illegal motion call. However, the very next play 1st and 15, Clinton Portis executed a “Mike Shannahan” cutback play to perfection as he ran for 16 yards and the first down.

In a division that sports the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, and the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins are not going to have it easy this season. And just because they won a game that they probably shouldn’t have is not the reason why people should start jumping on the Redskins bandwagon. Sunday night’s game provided Washington fans with more than just a 1-0 start to the season. It provided Washington Redskins fans to finally believe that their team may actually be turning a corner.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

Also check out howiGit’s blog.

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