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The Scrutiny Machine: Tony Romo Vs. Mark Sanchez


by Fidel Martinez

As Steve Mazzucchi– managing editor of Made Manpointed out to me yesterday, it was a terrible weekend for quarterbacks with Hispanic last names. In college,  Taylor Martinez (not actually Latino) and Nebraska got crushed by Wisconsin 48-17, and Stephen Garcia and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, previously ranked no. 10 in the country, lost to unranked Auburn. In the NFL, Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez were equally bad.

Despite being ahead 27-3 over the no-longer-lowly Detroit Lions in the second half, the Cowboys managed to lose in heartbreaking fashion yet again.With over 10 minutes left in the third quarter, Romo threw his first pick of the game to former teammate Bobby Carpenter. What’s worse is that Carpenter– nicknamed “Barbie” by former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells because of his lack of toughness— returned it for 34 yards for a touchdown. Carpenter’s a linebacker, not a defensive back. There’s absolutely no reason why he should go nearly untouched for 34 yards.

Next possession: another pick six by Chris Houston. Ran it back for 56 yards. Again, untouched. Dallas then proceeded to give up 17 unanswered points to the Lions.

Of course, everyone is blaming Romo for the collapse. This comes after two consecutive weeks of sportswriters calling the quarterback gutsy and heroic. It’s week four and he’s the goat once again.

As a Romo apologist, even I can agree that he screwed things up pretty badly. But as I pointed out before, he’s not the only person on the field. Rob Ryan and his defense effectively shut down Stafford and Calvin Johnson for three quarters. In the fourth? The wide receiver caught two touchdown passes to give the Lions the lead. Yes, he’s called Megatron because he’s so big, strong, and imposing, but letting him catch the ball in triple coverage?! That’s inexcusable.

The underlying issue with the Cowboys isn’t that Romo is prone to making terrible mistakes. Every quarterback has bad games (see: Tom Brady and his four interceptions against Buffalo). Good teams bounce back. Dallas is the opposite. As soon as Romo begins to falter, the entire team deflates. The defensive– laden with pro bowlers and promising upstarts– just gives up. It’s easy for them to do so because if they lose, the media more often than not will pin it on Romo.

Interestingly enough, New York is a different scenario. Whereas Dallas fans pray to whatever god will listen asking for Romo to have a great game, Jets fans are hoping that Mark Sanchez won’t undo the collective team’s effort. Consider yesterday’s game. Mark Sanchez threw a pick six, fumbled the ball four times. Three of those were recovered by the Ravens, who returned two of them for touchdowns. As Deadspin points out, the yardage resulting from the Sanchez turnovers was greater than the quarterback’s offensive production.

Poise!

And yet, when he doesn’t mess up, he’s Mr. Poise. I don’t get it. I honestly think that you could replace Sanchez with any quarterback– even a past-his-prime Jake Delhomme or a purple-syrup-drinking Jamarcus Russell– and the Jets would win the same amount of games. They’re that good.

The narrative dichotomy between Romo and Sanchez perpetrated by the media on a weekly basis is absurd and yet people buy into it. Following the Cowboys’ week one loss to the Jets, “Tony Romo” was a trending topic on Twitter, and just about every tweet regurgitated the same “he’s a choker” sentiment. After I wrote that Romo was better than Sanchez, someone, as if on cue, refuted my argument by sticking to the “Sanchez’s poise in the playoffs.” It boggles my mind that sports fans are so willing to ignore what they watch on screen, letting the talking heads dictate what they think instead.

Fidel Martinez is Managing Editor of Tu Vez.

Images via ESPN

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