Tony Romo vs Eli Manning for the Hall of Fame

With this week’s benching of Eli Manning this past week, it is widely assumed to be the end of his career of a starter. We are now left to ponder his legacy, is he a Hall of Fame player? We debate that question in this article, but I’m here to lose a different question. Is Eli Manning even at the front of the line in his own division? I’m not so sure.

Exactly one year before the New York Giants would draft Manning first overall, the Dallas Cowboys signed an undrafted free agent from Eastern Illinois by the name of Tony Romo. Along with Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles, Manning and Romo would go on to decide the fate of the division from 2000-2016 when Romo would be injured and replaced and Manning would begin to fade away. It’s unfair to assess one without the other. So let’s do a little digging to find out which should be at the front of the line.

By the numbers

TD %
TD/Int Ratio1.502.121.55
Passer Rating84.197.185.5
Comp. %60.365.361.4%
Win %50%61%N/A
Super Bowls2

There is a massive difference in the number of Games started and played by these two players. As such it made more sense to show the per game averages of both, to give a better grasp of the quality of play as opposed to Quantity. Manning is a true Ironman, and as such has started many more games than Romo, meaning in terms of quantitative or cumulative stats Manning has an impressive lead.

But when you look deeper into what you would get from each player in an average start, it’s really no contest. Romo leads by a good distance in Passing yards, Touchdowns, TD-INT ratio, QB Rating, Completion %, Yards per Attempt and even win percentage.

That means the numbers paint a picture of one player passing more effectively, more accurately, on deeper throws, more efficiently, which in turn lead to more wins.

As much I hate to say it Manning seems much closer to the column set up for the league average (nearly identical), than to Tony Romo. Does that make him an average QB?

The Real Clutch Performer

“But this is where Mr. Manning takes the lead on Romo, right? I mean the Snap fumble!! Romo is choker right? Isn’t Eli one of the most clutch performers who ever lived?” That is the perception, but let’s see how they actually performed.

CategoryManning Romo
W-L in 4QC attempts31-6325-32
Win %.330.439
W-L in GWD attempt42-6530-34
Win %.393.469
4th Qtr Passer Rating84.5102.7
Trailing< 2 min to go69.5100.9

Hmmm that’s not quite what I’ve always heard, the stats above indicate that player often called “not clutch” or a “choker” has actually played extremely well, and that the player that has been hailed as clutch, is not as much, by the numbers.

Manning has some great clutch moments on the biggest stage of all, but for his career his play doesn’t seem to reflect the reputation that those moments have afforded him.

Romo on the other hand in terms of wins and individual performance tends to far out play his reputation and his numbers could compare favorably with most in already in the Hall.

Everyone knows that Manning has two amazing Superbowl victories over Tom Brady in dramatic fashion. Everyone also knows Tony Romo only has two career playoff wins. But is that the whole story? Let’s see how they compare using the same criteria we used for the regular season.

Postseason Success

TD %4.54.3
TD/INT Ratio2.04.0
Passer Rating87.493.1
Comp. %60.561.6

Before I go any further here, I must state unequivocally that Eli Manning raised his game in the playoffs, and that the numbers show that Romo’s play dropped almost all the way across board in the post season. For Romo, there is no valid excuse or reason for this. It is likely (other than durability) the best arguement for Manning and against Romo.

let’s put this in perspective, if you look at the numbers, even when you factor in Romo’s step back and Manning stepping up, at worst, they are relative. Romo still bests Manning in four of the seven categories though nearly all seven are extremely close.

When you take out the two Super Bowl runs, things look much different for Manning

CategorySB champOther
TD/INT Ratio7.5.43
Passer Rating99.558.9
Comp. %62.7554.73

The cause of this dramatic difference is anyone’s guess, however Manning is no average post season QB. He is in fact, both one of the All-Time best and All-Time worst post season QBs ever. Is Manning a playoff hero who got caught four bad breaks? Or is he an average QB who got struck lightning in a bottle twice? Yes. The answer is yes.

A clear decision

I’m unsure if that playoff breakdown compares Manning to Romo positively or negatively, but it does illuminate how Manning got to those numbers relative to those of the Cowboys QB. Making Manning’s highest point and Romo’s lowest strikingly similar.

The decision is a clear one and your thoughts likely depend on what you value. If you value quantity, longevity, and super bowl success, Manning is your clear choice even if he only produced similarly to the average NFL QB over that span.

However if you, like me, place a premium on quality, high level play then the choice is also clear. Tony Romo by near every qualitative measure is a superior player and therefore is my choice to be the next NFC East QB to make the Hall of Fame.

That is by no means to say that Eli doesn’t deserve to get in, he certainly earned my respect. But this is simple, count up the numbers 9 goes in before 10.

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