Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tuesday Morning Quarterback

Wow! Only two games left in the 2006 football season. Another year has almost flown by. The Year of the Romo continues, however, with the first-year starter poised to make his own mark in the long, storied history of Cowboys playoff lore -- ready to take his place alongside legends like Don Meredith, Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. Something tells me Tony Romo has that certain something -- call it intestinal fortitude -- that all the great ones had, from Bradshaw to Montana, from Elway to Favre. He gets his chance to prove it to the world on the greatest national stage in all of sports: the NFL playoffs.

Romo, at 98.4, still sits at number two in the overall NFL passer rating, the mysterious/complicated metric that grades quarterbacks based on things like percentage of completions per attempt, average yards gained per attempt, percentage of touchdown passes per attempt, and percentage of interceptions per attempt -- but now he trails Peyton Manning's 99.0, who threw for 4 TDs last night versus the Bengals.

J.P. Losman of the Bills, much maligned during his struggles earlier this year, has quietly put together a solid season, much like Buffalo itself, which stands at 7-7. He's got 17 TDs against only 10 picks, good enough for an 88.5 rating, ninth in the league and ahead of such "luminaries" as Tom Brady, Steve McNair and Matt Hasselback. If you recall, Dallas made a trade with Buffalo three years ago that allowed them to take Losman, with the Cowboys giving up their first rounder and then selecting Julius Jones in the second round. The following year Dallas picked DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears with their first round picks, two cornerstones of their defense. It's turned into one of those rare draft day trades that benefited both clubs.

Speaking of quarterbacks, is there any player whose stock has fallen faster than Carolina's Jake Delhomme. Many media outlets were falling over themselves in September picking the Panthers to go to the Super Bowl, including Sports Illustrated. And many were basing their decision on Delhomme's leadership ability and experience, but even before he got hurt a few weeks ago he disappointed many in the organization -- such that rumors have begun to spread that Carolina will make a huge pitch to move up in the draft and nab Notre Dame's Brady Quinn with the first pick. It makes sense, because Delhomme is no spring chicken anymore and will be 32 by the time next season rolls around.

Our old friend Quincy Carter, the former QB of the Cowboys who led Dallas to their last playoff appearance in '03, was at it again, getting busted over the weekend for marijuana possession and causing a disturbance at his girlfriend's apartment. Despite playing with a Cowboys club that had far less talent than the current one, Carter piloted Dallas to a surprising 10-6 record that year (Parcells' first with the Cowboys), then the following year helped the Jets win two out of his three starts. Just as suddenly he was out of football following rumors of a failed drug test, and couldn't even make a Canadian Football League squad last year. I still think Carter had the talent to make it in the NFL, but obviously personal issues prevented him from maximizing his potential. I guess this means all those Carter rookie cards I bought in 2001 are not gonna be collector's items after all. Oh well...

Has a player ever made more of an impact in the return game than Chicago Bears rookie DB Devin Hester out of Miami? Including punts and kickoffs -- and who can forget that for-the-ages 108-yard return of a missed field goal against the Giants? -- Hester has an incredible six scores on returns this season, with a remarkable two 90-plus kickoff returns in one game against the Rams. There has never been an easier choice for Pro Bowl return specialist than Hester. I think they will start calling all return touchdowns "Hesters" if this keeps up.

No matter what happens in the postseason, I do not see Terrell Owens returning to the Cowboys next year, not if Bill Parcells decides to return for a fifth season with Dallas. On the field he's been everything everyone expected; the problem is, off the field he's been everything everyone expected. And that's not good for anyone.

Hey Jeremy Shockey, are the Giants still playing Giants football? Shockey said if the Giants play "Giants football," whatever that is, nobody can beat them. Well, I guess they play it only half the time, because they stand at a mediocre 7-7. And they can't use their injuries as an excuse -- everyone has them this time of year -- because the Eagles just came into their place and beat them with a backup QB. I didn't hear the Giants offering to give back any of their cheap wins last year when they faced monuments to mediocrity like backup QBs Mike McMahon of Philly and Cody Pickett of the 49ers and of course this year got a cheap win against Carolina with the putrid Chris Weinke behind center. (I just checked and McMahon and Pickett are rightly out of the fucking league now.) Your excuses are your own, as Al Pacino so rightly put it in Glengarry Glenn Ross. That's a good place as any to stop, so I will.

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