Our NFL columnist, Ashley Fox, has a neat little graphic element up on the site about 10 NFL quarterbacks who are "on the spot" in 2012. I didn't know Ashley was so graphics-savvy, but take a look. One of those slideshow deals where you scroll through and there's a photo and a blurb on each guy.
Anyway, No. 1 on the list is Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles, and No. 4 on the list is Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys. Pretty good representation of our little division, no? Here's Ashley's take on Vick:
The Eagles are built to win this year, but Vick will have to stay healthy and limit his turnovers. He missed three games in 2011 and had 24 turnovers -- and Philadelphia went 8-8 and missed the playoffs.
As we have written many times here, Vick and his turnovers were a bigger part of the problem in Philadelphia last season than was mentioned much at the time or has been discussed much since. As the season draws nearer, I expect the focus on Vick and the pressure he's under to intensify. I agree with Ashley that no quarterback in the league enters 2012 under more pressure than does Vick.
Here's Ashley's take on Romo:
Last season, Romo threw for 4,184 yards with 31 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. But in six years as the Cowboys' starter, he has won just one playoff game. Romo is 32 years old. Jerry Jones won't be patient forever.
I tend to think Jones might actually be patient with Romo forever, if that's what it takes. Romo and Jones are close, and the Cowboys' owner takes great pride in the fact that the undrafted quarterback to whom he gave this opportunity has blossomed into one of the best quarterbacks in the league. I don't believe that Jones feels remotely as critical toward Romo and his oft-cited poor playoff record as Dallas fans and the conventional NFL wisdom do, and I really do think that Romo's play would have to drop off considerably in order for the Cowboys to consider replacing him. I do not think it's possible for that to happen within the course of the coming season.
That said, I do agree that Romo belongs on any list of NFL quarterbacks "on the spot," because few get more attention, and the longer he goes without delivering some playoff success (be it his fault or not), the more he squanders the opportunity to take control of the narrative about his own career. He might not care what people say about him now, but someday he will, and if these shadows remain unchanged (hat tip, Mr. Charles Dickens), the story of Romo's career will be that of promise unfulfilled, not that of an undrafted guy who exceeded expectations.