Romo or Cutler?
Romo reigns supreme
All due respect to the fine folks in the Windy City, but they know as much about QBs as they do about BBQ.
That's not to predict that Tony Romo will have a bust in Canton, although it's certainly in the realm of possibility for a man who ranks behind only Aaron Rodgers and Steve Young on the all-time passer rating list. Put it this way: Jay Cutler's odds of playing in a Pro Bowl as a Bear aren't much better than those of Romo joining Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman in the Hall of Fame.
We're really talking about quarterbacks from two different class levels. Romo ranks right behind the elite active QBs who have won Super Bowls. Cutler is just a bit above average despite his rocket right arm.
Cutler, the NFL leader in interceptions and sideline hissy fits, has actually been awful the last two weeks.
Their critics have focused on two areas: decision-making and leadership. Romo has made major progress in both departments in recent seasons; Cutler has regressed.
Romo had a 31-to-10 TD/INT ratio in 2011. Cutler has never had twice as many TD passes as picks in a season.
Over the course of their careers, Cutler has started one more game than Romo and thrown for 33 fewer touchdowns and 17 more picks. Romo's completion percentage is almost four points higher. His winning percentage is more than eight points higher.
A matured Romo has earned respect throughout the Cowboys' locker room. The moody Cutler earns eye rolls in the Bears' locker room.
And don't think the Bears' NFC Championship Game appearance a couple of years ago gives Cutler an edge over Romo. They both have only one playoff win in their careers; Cutler's came against a team with a losing record.
The defining moment of Cutler's career so far: him standing on the sideline with a sore knee in the second half of that title game, having left with his team trailing by two touchdowns.
Give me the guy who gutted it out with a punctured lung and broken ribs to lead the Cowboys' double-digit rally in Week 2 last season. Especially since the numbers fall so firmly in Romo's favor.
Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.
Cutler's done more with less
Deciding between Jay Cutler and Tony Romo isn't a Peyton Manning-Tom Brady argument. It's also not like picking between Brett Favre and Jeff George. Both Cutler and Romo are franchise quarterbacks and are on the fringe of being truly elite.
Truth be told, the two are pretty comparable -- Ron Jaworski ranked Cutler as the eighth-best quarterback and Romo 10th -- teasing with talent and somewhat distrusted outside of their respective fan bases.
Cutler might be a little more prone to interceptions, but he's had to take chances with limited talent around him. Cutler has a better arm and outsize confidence that few quarterbacks can match. Any coach would salivate over Cutler's physical skills and swagger. In a lot of ways, he is the prototypical Texas gunslinger.
The exciting Romo has shown more an instinctive ability to elongate plays, but he's also been gifted with better complementary talent, like Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Cutler has also been sacked 121 times since 2009, 37 more times than Romo. Romo's disappointing playoff performances have left a stain on his reputation. Then again, Cutler's second playoff game didn't quite end well either.
Given the disparity in talent, it's tough to judge the two by the numbers. Romo has also been with offensive coordinator/now head coach Jason Garrett since 2007. Cutler has had to learn a new system seemingly every season.
Cutler was on his way to a solid, all-around season last year before an untimely hand injury, and this season, with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, he finally has legitimate big receivers. Once Mike Tice, in his first season as offensive coordinator, gets his playcalling smoothed out, Cutler will have every opportunity to prove that he can be considered an elite quarterback.
But he's already better than Romo.
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.