Watching with one's own two eyes, it would seem obvious that Tony Romo was dynamite when under pressure from pass rushers in 2011. Constantly he was spinning out of trouble and looking downfield for big plays.
But the eyes deceive, according to the stats gurus at ProFootballFocus.com. In their breakdown of all quarterbacks against pressure this past season, Romo ranked just 18th.
By their count, the Cowboys quarterback was pressured on 174 of his dropbacks, which ranks tied for 12th most in the league. Romo went back to pass more than 550 times in 2011.
Of those 174 pressured drops, he was sacked 36 times, or 20.7 percent, which came in at 19th among the 34 quarterbacks who qualified. Eli Manning, by comparison, ranked first. He was sacked on only 11.5 percent of his 244 pressured dropbacks. Michael Vick was second at 11.6 percent of 199 pressures.
That statistic alone probably underlines the Cowboys' need for an improved pass rush this offseason. Even Washington's Rex Grossman finished in the top five, at a pressured-sack percentage of 13.9 percent.
When Romo did get rid of the ball while under fire, he made good things happen. He threw seven touchdowns against four interceptions against pressure, which was the ninth-best ratio in the league. Aaron Rodgers and Andy Dalton each had four TDs and zero picks versus the rush, while Drew Brees had 10 passes, the most of anyone.
Romo completed 56.7 percent of his passes when pressured (76-of-134), came in second in the league, two points behind Brees.
But pulling all the stats together, Romo's sack percentage weighed heavily against him in PFF's grading scale. His came in a little bit below league average, which suggests a couple things.
First, he can still do a better job of simply getting rid of the ball when under the gun, instead of trying to do to much to create space for himself. Second, the Cowboys have to give him better protection.
So, that's math for you.