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Monday Morning Jones: Tony Romo, the Falcons and the NFL MVP

Same ol' Tony Romo. Same ol' Falcons and Texans. But there's a brand new NFL MVP, and Adrian Peterson will get another crack at the Packers next week. That and more in the Monday Morning Jones.

Rob Carr

Why waste time with chatter when we could hurry up and start bagging on Tony Romo? To the weekend, tout de suite!

Never change, Tony. How many quarterbacks in the NFL are truly better than Tony Romo? Probably five, definitely less than 10. But how many are worse when it matters than Romo? Who, at this point, doesn't feel confident Romo will find a way to blow a game, like Sunday's 28-18 loss to the Redskins?

Credit Romo for how well he played this December. Acknowledge his role in keeping the Cowboys in the playoff chase until the very end. Give him and his team their due for surging in spite of injuries, Jerry Brown's death and the loss of Josh Brent (who, it should be noted, is a pretty good football player). But it's impossible to deny that big moments seem to overwhelm Romo, and no level of talent will overcome that gaping, intangible flaw. The Cowboys may not find a better quarterback, but you can't fault anyone who thinks they need a new one.

Believe in the Falcons if you want. I'm currently in Atlanta, where my father told me he was "all-in" with the Falcons. I tried to warn him many times, but he said this time it's different. Guess it's good for him he was watching "Django Unchained" while Atlanta lost 22-17 at home to the Buccaneers. Of course, it seems like nitpicking when pointing out the flaws of a 13-win team. Except it doesn't when the team's flaws are "can't stop the run" and "can't establish the run." The Falcons failed to gain 100 yards on the ground 10 times, including each of their losses. They are 29th in yards per attempt on both sides of the ball. That's bad, and it would be bad if the Falcons were 16-0 or 3-13.

Now, take a look at who's in the NFC playoffs. Name one team that shouldn't feel good about its chances against a team who can't stop the run. The Packers are the only other team without a great running game, but I don't think they needed one the last time they played the Falcons in the postseason. The Falcons may have the best record in their conference, but they'll need more than homefield advantage to make it to the Super Bowl.

Speaking of not nitpicking a team with a lot of wins ... After another loss in Indianapolis, this time by a score of 28-16, the Texans have scored four offensive touchdowns in their last four games, and two of them came when they were four and five touchdowns, respectively, behind the Patriots. Three of those games were against teams who entered Week 17 ranked 26th (Indy) and 27th (New England) in total defense. The Texans defense was great early this season, but can that battered unit prop up Houston's star-studded-but-sputtering offense? And can they do it on the road at least once? This, ladies is gentlemen, is why people were reluctant to give the Texans too much credit earlier this season.

Your NFL MVP. Adrian Peterson ran for nearly 2,100 yards while carrying Christian Ponder's keister to the postseason. If that's not enough for you, nothing else I say will matter. Much respect to Peyton Manning and everyone else, but Peterson gave us a season for the ages. There's no shame in second place, but there's been no one better this season than A.D.


Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

And the Packers get to play him a third time! The Vikings pulled out a 37-34 classic against Green Bay, setting up their rubber match at Lambeau Field next weekend. So far, the Packers have given up 403 rushing yards to Peterson. But 199 yards from Peterson and three touchdown passes from Christian Ponder meant a three-point win at home. Next game will be Ponder's first playoff start, and it'll come at a stadium where the home team has lost four times ever in the postseason. Maybe Peterson can do something superhuman, but not even that will be enough.

And the Rookie of the Year ... Opinions are like orifices, I know, but it's mindblowing that Robert Griffin III isn't projected as a landslide winner of the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year. Never mind that Griffin leads the NFL in yards per rushing attempt and passing attempt, or the stunning turnaround of the Redskins offense after they built everything around Griffin. Or that he's only the third quarterback in NFL history with 3,000 yards passing and 700 yards rushing (the first was Randall Cunningham in 1990, one of the great seasons of all-time, and the other Cam Newton).

How about the fact Griffin has had one bad game all year? Or that Griffin hasn't had a single game where he threw more interceptions than touchdowns? While Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck needed time to get their legs under them, Griffin hit the ground running and was only slowed by injury. Griffin is fifth in the league in completion percentage while Luck hasn't completed more than half his passes in over a month. No matter the reasons why Griffin is outperforming the rest of the rookie class, whether they be the perceived rigor of his offense or the quality of his teammates, he is outperforming his class. Hell, he outperformed two two-time Super Bowl winning quarterbacks this year.

Don't work so hard to figure out who should win Rookie of the Year. The answer is as obvious as it seems, no matter how far someone goes to tell you otherwise.

Kids, did you know the Colts used to play in Baltimore? Mayflower will get a surge in exposure this week, for those pictures of the trucks moving the Colts to Indianapolis will be all over the place in advance of Ravens-Colts. Far more compelling than that story -- beaten into the ground long ago -- is how scary this matchup must be for the Ravens. Baltimore hasn't beaten a team in this year's postseason since Week 3, and they backed into the playoffs with four losses in five games. They held on through injuries and major changes to the coaching staff, but they look to be at their end.

But they're also going to face a rookie quarterback in his first playoff game, playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in captivity. They'll face the same Colts defense that gave up over 500 total yards to the Chiefs, including 352 on the ground. The Ravens should give the ball to Ray Rice until Indianapolis makes them stop. Should. But given that Rice is the only player they have one could truly call "dependable," he could be the only man who can stop the Ravens' epic freefall.

P.J. Carlesimo? Of course, the Nets can change their minds whenever they want, but did they really fire Avery Johnson because they thought Carlesimo was a better option for the rest of the season? Nets GM Billy King said he liked that Carlesimo had NBA coaching experience, but so do Sidney Lowe, Quinn Buckner and a bunch of other guys no one will ever hire again. Maybe the Nets have something up their sleeves, but if firing Johnson meant nothing more than Carlesimo sliding down one chair, it makes you wonder if Brooklyn made a really big decision with no idea of what to do next.


Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

You sure Tim Tebow will play for the Jags in 2013? We all know the arguments for why the Jaguars would make a run at Tim Tebow in the offseason. But if it's true Jags GM Gene Smith will be fired soon, then someone's got to explain why his successor would want to take a job where he's required to take on the Tebow circus. The Broncos got to the playoffs with Tebow, and John Elway still seemed relieved it was all over, and that season was the textbook definition of "best-case scenario."

The Jaguars don't need a novelty act at quarterback. They need a quarterback. And the last time Tebow was available, only one team tried to acquire him for largely football reasons, and they didn't play him. The Jags don't need another guy under center no one else wants. They've got that covered, and that's something anyone worth hiring as an executive will see. So why would anyone take a job when the boss requires you do something to make things worse?

(Yes, I am saying I agree with everything Merril Hoge had to say.)

A lot of coaches will be fired Monday. And there will be an argument for firing each one. Seriously, who would have to get fired on "Black Monday" for you to be surprised? And really, is that guy going to get fired?

The answer to the first question, after all these years, is still Norv Turner. And the second is ... I mean, it looks like it. But they'll have to put him in the ground before I believe he's dead. And I'll have to see it with my own lyin' eyes.