Is Tony Romo forced to play recklessly?

Brett Favre defended Tony Romo's "reckless" play Friday. (USATSI)

Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre is basically an expert on reckless play. The all-time leader in interceptions spoke Friday at SMU's athletic forum luncheon in Dallas, and said, essentially, that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is forced to play recklessly.

“I guess the way for me to explain it would be that if the Cowboys offense is going according to plan, say you’re up by 14, or you’re never out of it and your running game is OK, and you know where everyone is going to line up and you know what you’re going to get out of your defense, then I think he would probably play less recklessly," Favre said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "I think it just kind of falls in line with how maybe the season or the game goes.”

Favre's logic is sound -- Romo is forced to press when his team is worse -- though the numbers don't really back up his claims. Judging only seasons in which Romo has started 10 or more games, there is no real correlation between the Cowboys' record and Romo's production.

2006* 10 6-4-0 19 13 95.1
2007* 16 13-3-0 36 19 97.4
2008 13 8-5-0 26 14 91.4
2009* 16 11-5-0 26 9 97.6
2011 16 8-8-0 31 10 102.5
2012 16 8-8-0 28 19 90.5

The last two seasons are the best indication of this.

Romo had his finest statistical season in 2011, and Dallas finished 8-8. His worst season came last year, and, again, Dallas was 8-8. 

“It’s the ultimate team sport,” Favre said, according to the paper. “I think it’s misleading to say that a quarterback has wins and losses and say he was a part of one playoff victory. I think there are a lot of factors that go into the success of not only Tony Romo but any player. Just what little bit I’ve watched the last couple of years, it seems like they were a little bit in disarray offensively. I thought he did a good job, from what I saw, of managing and making plays."

Of course, judging a quarterback based on his team's record is an oversimplification of that quarterback's ability. But then again, attributing Romo's reckless play to some sort of heroic attempt to save his sputtering offense is similarly short-sighted, which Favre acknowledged. 

“I like the way he plays,” Favre said. “I think there’s times that he’s made plays or decisions that were bad. But I think based on how the team has played or the way that the game has gone, for the most part, has kind of dictated the way his decision-making has played into it."

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