Open for debate: Romo or Eli?

May, 20, 2011
5/20/11
9:31
AM ET
My kids weren't even up yet when Eric (@GMEN10) tweeted the day's first question. "How would you rank the current NFC East QBs?" So I took a break from scanning for breakfast links and tweeted back my answer:

Romo
Manning
Manning
1. Vick 2. Romo 3. Eli 4. McNabb 5. Kolb 6. Beck/Grossman

Well, the Giants fans didn't love this. The first complaint was that Eli Manning wasn't ranked No. 1, since he's the one with the Super Bowl ring. And while that may be a reasonable criterion, I think it depends on the way you read the question. For me, the question was about how those quarterbacks rank as players right now. And if that's the case, I don't think there can be any doubt that right now Michael Vick is the best player of the bunch.

But most of the complaints were about the order of the next two guys on the list. Basically, it appears as if Giants fans believe Manning should be ahead of Tony Romo because Manning won a Super Bowl three years ago and Romo (a) likes to vacation in Cabo and (b) once fumbled a field goal snap at the end of a playoff game.

For me, Romo/Manning is pretty close. I had no doubts about picking Vick No. 1 and going with Manning and Romo, in some order, for the next two. But I did think a fair bit about what that order should be. In the end, I went with Romo, because ranking them tied for second would have felt like a cop-out and because I feel like Romo is the better all-around player/thrower/decision-maker at this point in time. But I don't think he's better by much, and if I were picking third in this draft I wouldn't be devastated to be "stuck" with Eli Manning. I'd just give Romo the slight edge right now if I were picking second.

Record-wise, Manning of course has the 4-3 playoff record to Romo's 1-3. All four of Manning's playoff wins were in the same postseason, but one was against Romo and the fourth was a Super Bowl victory over what may have been the greatest team of all time. This needs to be factored in when weighing these guys' career accomplishments against each other.

But I still think the question was about who's currently better. And it's not as if Manning has clearly been the better player in the three years since. Romo has him in yards per game (269.7 to 233.3), completion percentage (63.6 to 61.7) and TD/INT ratio (2.1 to 1.5) in that time. Manning has him in winning percentage (.612 to .568) and has of course been healthier, playing 49 games (counting playoffs, because I think we should) to Romo's 37 over the past three seasons. Like I said, it's close. Not sure there's a "wrong" call on this one.

Anyway, figured this was a good way to wake everybody up on a Friday morning. The sun's finally out in New Jersey, so I'm going to go for a run and come back and read what you guys think. Play nice!!!

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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