Wake Me Up When December Ends

If I told you that this certain quarterback wears number 9, got a fat new contract in the offseason, and his team (whether by his own fault or not) chokes down the stretch seemingly every year, who would you say? Tony Romo or Matthew Stafford?

The answer is yes.

Both quarterbacks fit the criteria, but let’s dig deeper.

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First of all, both of them are “backwards hat” players. This means that when each quarterback goes to the sideline and puts on a team hat, like most (if not all) quarterbacks do, they turn it backwards. No team has ever won a Super Bowl when their starting QB is a brim to the back guy, it’s just a fact. The first one to change this awful habit will be the first one to make a deep playoff run. Watch and see.

Despite the bone-chilling fact delivered above, both of these guys are extremely successful football players. To win one game (thus taking age out of the equation) I can name seven quarterbacks in the league that I would rather have on my team than these two players. Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Brees, Wilson, Luck, and Roethlisberger are no doubt better than (recent struggles aside) Romo and Stafford. You could probably talk me into Cam Newton or Colin Kaepernick too, but that’s just nitpicking. Bottom line: these guys are top 10 NFL quarterbacks.

And they’re paid like it too…

Romo signed a 6 year, $108 million dollar extension with the Cowboys over the offseason and Stafford will be making $76.5 million over the next 5 years of his deal. That’s a lot of money for a pair with a combined 1 playoff victory over the course of their careers. But you know what? It’s worth it. Quarterbacks are at a premium in this day in age and top 10 players at the position don’t come around very often.

But here’s the catch: they both fade when the spotlight shines brightest.

Romo

The difference between Pre-Thanksgiving Romo and Post-Thanksgiving Romo is vast. In November, the Cowboys starter has a career 26-6 record while also averaging a 105.5 quarterback rating and completing 66 percent of his passes. Maybe Tony does too much Black Friday shopping because when the countdown to Christmas begins, Romo’s record drops to 13-19 with a quarterback rating of 89.4 and he completes just 62% of his passes.

Most recently, Romo provided his latest meltdown in a career chalk-full of them, especially throughout December. This past Sunday, the Cowboys led the Packers by 23 at halftime with the game seemingly sealed. After all, Matt Flynn was quarterbacking the opposing team.

But Green Bay kept chipping away at the lead until all of a sudden, Romo found the ball in his hands with his team leading just 36-31 late in the 4th. When Dallas should have attempted to run the clock out, Romo changed the play to a pass which, of course, was subsequently intercepted. Matt Flynn took advantage and led his team down for the touchdown and a 1-point lead with less than 2 minutes remaining. Dallas had a chance to drive down for a game-winning field goal, but Romo throws a game ending pick and Green Bay kneels down for a much needed victory.

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In the short-term, this loss doesn’t drastically affect the Cowboys. It all comes down to the week 17 game against Philadelphia. If Romo can pull off a victory there, then Dallas will be a 4 seed in the NFC playoffs. Let’s just say that I don’t like his odds.

Last season, Dallas faced the same situation of a win-or-go-home scenario in week 17 in which they lost to Washington. The Cowboys ended 2012 with an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs for the third straight year. The Dallas loss marked their third season finale loss in the last five seasons where they faced a win-or-go-home situation for the playoffs. Again, why should I like Romo’s odds for 2013?

Stafford

Drafted in 2009, the former Georgia standout was supposed to be the next Brett Favre with his immense arm-strength and innate ability to turn nothing into something. For the most part, Stafford has had a successful NFL career. While his teams’ are never Super Bowl contenders, he tends to put up gaudy stats, most noticeably in 2011 when he passed for 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns, and just 16 interceptions. Those numbers, while at the height of the NFL passing surge, are impressive in any era.

However, what’s not impressive is his record as a starting NFL QB: 24-34. While part of the blame can be placed on playing for the Lions, a quarterback also has to overcome certain deficiencies, especially when throwing to possibly the best receiver ever, right?

Well, not so far. Once Aaron Rodgers went down earlier this season, the NFC North became the Lions’ division to lose. And that’s exactly what they have done. Lost it.

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Stafford played a huge part in Monday Night’s collapse in which the Lions got beaten by a team that didn’t score a single offensive touchdown. His two 4th quarter interceptions proved too costly to overcome. Detroit began week 15 sitting pretty atop the NFC North and they end week 15 looking up all the way from the 3rd place.

What doesn’t help Stafford’s case for elite status is that his career December record is 3-8 and he lost his lone playoff game back in 2012 as well.

The Future

Each quarterback  will be okay financially for the next millennium or so, but their combined December record (16-27) speaks for itself. If either QB wants a shiny new (Super Bowl) ring to put on their respective fingers, then I suggest two things. Play better when the weather gets colder… and turn your hat around.

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