ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 02: Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys gets knocked to the turf against the Detroit Lions at Cowboys Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Detroit Lions beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-30. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
There really doesn't seem to be end in sight to the Tony Romo hatefest.
It doesn't matter that he was the driving force in the two Cowboys victories or that Jason Garrett's unwillingness to just run the ball and let Rob Ryan's defense do its thing contributed mightily to the loss, it all comes back on Romo. That's hardly unfair given the way he played and it's not surprising given how little the rest of football teams seem to matter to the general public compared to quarterbacks, but it feels like things are starting to spiral out of control.
The latest evidence on that front comes from Adam Rank of NFL.com who took Deion Sanders' suggestion that the Cowboys would never win with Romo at quarterback and ran with it. His sprint wound up with a list of six quarterbacks the Cowboys could have had this season that would have left them in better hands than Romo.
Rank's list only includes guys who the team would have had a real chance to get, so no Brady or Rodgers, and thankfully isn't so fanciful that it includes Brett Favre. It does include Donovan McNabb, although Rank makes it clear that he's only kidding. The names that made the cut, in order from bottom to top: David Garrard, Kyle Orton, Matt Flynn, Ryan Mallett, Matt Hasselbeck and Stephen McGee.
We can immediately toss out Mallett and McGee. The idea that either of them would be an immediate upgrade over Romo can't be substantiated by anything other than a hunch and the Cowboys clearly weren't looking to take a rebuilding step this season. Flynn is also an easy toss, because the Packers almost certainly weren't going to trade him and because he's still a mostly unproven commodity.
Garrard is better than the guys the Jaguars kept in his place, but he's never done a thing to show that he's better than Romo. Orton has had some good moments, but he's never been given the chance to run an offense with the talent he'd have in Dallas. Would he be better than Romo, though? Maybe he avoids the two meltdowns, but it's a stretch to extend that to say that he would lead the two comebacks.
Hasselbeck is the most interesting case of the six. He won big in Seattle and is winning in Tennessee without any contributions from Chris Johnson and while learning the ropes of a different offense than he's played in his entire career. But is he really an upgrade?
That's the issue here and with all of the more extreme calls to get rid of Romo. Once you eliminate all of the choices that were unavailable to the Cowboys, there isn't a single name that would clearly make the Cowboys a better team. The lows might not be as low with some guys, but the highs wouldn't be as high either.
Complaining's easy, but until someone comes up with a better solution Romo remains the best option for the Cowboys. The grass isn't always greener somewhere else, even if your grass isn't as green as you might prefer.
The best answer we can come up with is that the Cowboys need to do more to make winning and losing games come down to more than Romo. His inconsistency and erratic nature aren't going away, but there's no need to make yourself a slave to them unless you're a glutton for punishment.