Scouting Notebook: Pardoning Romo

Any insufferable Cowboys fan who blames Tony Romo for the loss today deserves to have football heartbreak visited upon him (or her) tenfold. Romo was spectacular, better even than Peyton Manning. The Cowboys’ defense was terrible but you almost have to excuse it given Manning’s continued brilliance. It’s a shame either quarterback had to lose. This game was so reminiscent of the famous 51-45 shootout between Ken O’Brien and Dan Marino 27 years ago and, like that game, will be fondly remembered and viewed for generations.

Throwing for 506 yards on 36 attempts is noteworthy and really eases concerns about the lack of downfield throwing that had plagued the Dallas offense in the early season. Romo is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 500-plus yards on 36 or fewer attempts. (But I must note, as all who have seen my Twitter icon will understand, that Joe Namath against the Colts in 1972 threw for 496 yards on just 28 attempts.)
Romo is a great player who, like Brett Favre, is hamstrung by his elite play-making ability because the flip side of it is recklessness. Also, like Marino, Romo has never had a championship-caliber supporting cast needed to enhance his chances for postseason glory.

Knowshon Moreno is not going anywhere. I don’t understand why Denver has been so insistent on replacing him. There’s no way you burn even a third-round pick on running backs unless you feel there is a screaming need. I trusted their opinion of their players and got burned. I’d do it again, too.
Man, I was wrong about Carson Palmer, who was awful against the Panthers. Clearly, Andrew Luck deserves more credit for Bruce Arians’ success rather than vice versa.
Cam Newton is a big fantasy problem. The points are usually there and they’ll probably end up materializing this year, too. But they come in bunches and they mostly come later in the year. A key to our fake game is to get off to a fast start. I won’t be rostering Newton anymore for this reason. But if you can swoop in now, say if you own Michael Vick, there is potential for profit.
I don’t know what to make of Pierre Thomas’ game. I’ve been saying for years and even a couple of weeks ago that he is a football tragedy as a guy with elite skills who never received the opportunities he earned. Unfortunately, he no longer seems to be near peak skill level. In other words, he’s probably only as good now as, say, Trent Richardson, aka “The Walking Dead.”
Did you ever wonder why you can’t see rain well during, say, football games but you see it really good in movies? The rain the studios make has drops five times natural size. It’s so big, it hurts. (Cue Michael Scott.)
Alshon Jeffery has had 24 targets the last two weeks after getting 21 the prior three. Again, he fits the profile we modeled in August. The sad thing is that people with short benches who drafted Jeffery may have already cut him. Sharp players should push for deep benches because it rewards summer projections and doesn’t penalize patience.
When Brandon Bolden leads a Tom Brady-quarterbacked team in catches, the offense is totally out of whack. LeGarrette Blount seems a bad fit for this offense because he’s so one dimensional. It’s also why Steven Ridley is a bad fit. I think Shane Vereen is going to win a lot of owners championships come Weeks 12 through 16.
What was at least as shocking as Brady being held without a touchdown for the first time in over 50 games was how consistently Cincy applied pressure and how hopeless Brady was in the face of it. I entered this week thinking that the Pats’ line was their saving grace.
I’m tired of tracking Rob Gronkowski news. Just wake me up when he’s active in a game. The lesson is to not pay anything near a premium price for guys who have injuries that are remotely unconventional.
The story for Green Bay is Eddie Lacy, who got as solid a share of carries as anyone can hope for from a feature back. Trade for him now, if you can.

Calvin Johnson has an impact on an offense far beyond his statistics. He makes the defense easier to read and creates favorable matchups for teammates. Matthew Stafford actually did better than I predicted. In August in the comments here, I charted up impact of Johnson-type receivers on a QB’s efficiency stats and it was about 17 percent. So that would mean the expectation for Stafford today would be 6.7 yards per pass attempts (YPA) and a 80 passer rating. Stafford was 6.6 and 89.8 (okay, that’s pretty good).
I said I’d reevaluate my Luck skepticism after five games. And here we are. He’s gotten better, for sure. His performance in reality (in other words, YPA and passer rating) is better. Even the accuracy has improved. Even though he’s not a prized fantasy asset this year by any means, I’ll concede that the model with Luck was wrong and that makes me wrong, too. Luck appears to be an exception to the general rule that modern quarterbacks reach true skill level rather quickly.
It’s amazing that Russell Wilson is running as much as he is and not finding the end zone. I mean, Peyton rushed for a TD today. This is downright Michael Vick of him.
Mike Wallace had 16 targets semi-officially and converted seven (terrible). But I need to watch the tape because they give targets on almost every pass attempt, which is stupid. Some are clear throwaways.
I would run, not walk, to the seller’s window if anyone is lining up to buy Ray Rice. Try to seem all cool and detached about it though.
The backups like Nick Foles come in and look good a lot and then, generally, show why they were backups the next week when they have to actually think about playing, when there are expectations.
Hakeem Nicks is another guy to sell now. He let a touchdown slip through his fingers and is far from reliable now.
David Wilson is cursed. Or maybe his owners are cursed. Have I told you I don’t believe in curses? But I so believe in the Wilson curse.
I guess the good news is that Chris Johnson did this last year early, too. Or is that the bad news? At 28 now, it should almost be over for Johnson. Maybe it already is.
There is actually fantasy news out of the St. Louis-Jacksonville game, which is sad. This means that people may actually have to watch these teams play for the rest of the season. An angel cries every time anyone watches the Rams. Two when anyone watches the Jags. Maurice Jones-Drew? Forget him. Yes, Justin Blackmon. I liked Zac Stacy in August but he’s long gone off my teams by now (dreaded short benches). He seemed very Alfred Morris-ish to me but the trap is thinking there’s always another guy like the last guy. Still, he impressed his teammates and should be a prized wavier target this week, even with the Schottenheimer headwind that can approach hurricane force.

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