I can't seem to escape the bashing of Tony Romo these days. It is astonishing to hear some "fans" actually suggest that we need to find a new quarterback. I think some of them are being misled by the media and maybe some of them need to understand just how significant the injury to Romo's pinky actually was.
My gut told me that the injury to Romo's pinky was a major contributor to the struggles of the offense, but I didn't have any proof. I decided to go back and look at the statistics for Tony Romo's 2008 season and make a before/after injury breakdown. I didn't know exactly how it would pan out, but the results are eye opening. I didn't include any numbers from the 3 games he missed. I only calculated his performance based on full games. The stats from the Arizona game were counted since he did play the entire game.
Touchdown Passes (26 Total, 6th in NFL)
Before: 14 in 6 games (2.33 per game)
After: 12 in 7 games (1.71 per game)
Completion Percentage (61% Overall, 16th in NFL)
Interceptions (14 Total, 6th in NFL)
Before: 5 in 6 games (0.83 per game)
After: 9 in 7 games (1.29 per game)
Turnovers (24 total)
Before: 9 in 6 games (1.5 per game)
After: 15 in 7 games (2.1 per game)
Yards per Attempt (7.7 per attempt, 6th in NFL)
Passing Yards Per Game (265.2 yards per game, 5th in NFL)
Fumbles (13 Total, 2nd in NFL)
Before: 6 in 6 games
After: 7 in 7 games
Team Points Per Game (24.7 for 13 games)
Team Record (8-4 for 12 games)
Before: 4-1 (The Arizona game was tied when the broken pinky occurred)
Nearly every statistical category showed a significant drop off after the injury. I know that players don't like to use injury as an excuse, but a look at the statistics seems to show that maybe the injury does bear part of the blame for Romo's lackluster season. Even with a decline in his numbers he still finished among the league leaders in many of the categories listed.
The only category that seemed unaffected by the injury was fumbles. Romo recorded an average of one fumble per game both before and after the injury. That number is unacceptable and he clearly needs to work on ball security. It is interesting to note that out of 10 fumbles in 2007, 5 were recovered. Out of 13 fumbles in 2008, only 3 were recovered. You would expect a 50% recovery percentage, so clearly the football gods were not on the side of Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys this season.
If you want to blame Tony Romo for not getting his team fired up and being an emotional leader that seems fair. But the statistics show that Tony Romo is easily a top 10 quarterback in the NFL so any talk of replacing him is just not logical. Not every quarterback has the personality to be the guy who yells and screams. Eli Manning certainly is not an emotional leader and yet, somehow, Peyton's little brother managed to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. I want Tony to step up and be a vocal leader but I know he is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL even if he doesn't.