Theme Music: Fire Your Guns by AC/DC. Got this idea from 2 other SB nation sites.
In this weeks edition of Do You Really Care (How many words my title is so long as I can make it four initials), I want to examine the legitimacy of a fanatic position that's sweeping the nation: Clutchness.
Ah, we all know the word. It's a part of the trinity of "intangibles" that supposedly measure a players worth beyond statistics. Leadership, Ability to win, and Clutchness and the greatest of these is Clutchness... or something. We'll also have a Week 6 edition of Which Way the Wind blows, and finally address play calling, execution, O-line readiness, and contemplating my navel; I swear it's not as bad as it sounds.
Stick Shift -> Clutch -> Clutchness
I love intangibles. I like seeing a guy get up in a player's face or giving them a pep talk. I like seeing a QB drive the ball down the field for a game winning field goal. Admit it, you do too. We all do it... well maybe not everyone
via www.waitingfornextyear.com. Shame on you if you don't know who this is.
Still, if such a thing as intangibility exists, I can't help but think it's overblown to the extreme. What's one of the complaints people often hear? "I don't like statistics because they can easily be skewed to say whatever you want them to say." And this is true to an extent, but I think we need to ask a follow-up question: "Objective statistics are unreliable therefore we should trust instead subjective notions like the eyeball test and intangibility?"
What makes our situation even more difficult is that we as fans see what we want to see. And that's why Today I must engage in an attack on the Sacred Cow of Clutchness.
Disclaimer: I don't think Clutchness is a failed metric in all sports, and think it's much more applicable in a sport like Basketball where both teams are constantly scoring and a blocked shot or a drawn 3-pt play is much more integral to a game in the 4th quarter than in Football. Consult your doctor before starting a lynch mob.
There is a double-standard currently being employed by many DC fans.
Sentiment 1: The defense cannot be blamed for its inability to stop Tom Brady on the last drive. My response: Absolutely correct. The defense held the Pats under 30 points and kept us in the game when the offense was doing horribly.
Sentiment 2: The offense, TR specifically, needs better situational awareness, when to throw the ball away, when not to be a hero, etc. My response: You can't have it both ways. You must pick which line of thought you want to agree with. Is winning/losing a team aggregate, like sentiment 1 suggests, or is clutchness a factor like sentiment 2 suggests?
If we agree with sentiment 2 we are rightly able to scold the defense for the last drive of the game. But, let's look at the facts. Football is an aggregate game. All that matters is the final score. This is why we praise the defense for holding the Pats to 20 points and getting 2 interceptions off of Tom Terrific, gag me by the way.
After we lost to the Lions I posited a question: Would you be more upset if we lost a game 20-17 and Tony Romo threw a pick-6 in the first half, or if we lost by the same amount and Tony Romo threw an interception in the last 5 minutes. I was surprised to hear that people really did believe the former scenario was preferable to the latter scenario. Football is an aggregate game. Throwing a pick-6 is going to hurt equally no matter when you throw it.
But NYhorn, you may protest, don't you believe that it is more essential to throw better in the last quarter because the game is so close and the game hinges on a single play? No I do not. If the game is that close in the 4th quarter this reveals an inability of the Offense, Defense, or Special teams to significantly extend the game to where a single horrific play by one of the three groups will not ruin it. In the case of the past couple of losses the blame is significantly skewed towards the Offense. In the Jets game, the blame was equally on the defense for keeping the Jets in the game, and on the offense for committing 2 turnovers.
To close up this point a couple of weeks ago FiTaT wrote an excellent post on close games that I recommend you read. One point really strikes me from it though:
That doesn't just apply in the last minute -- superior coaching makes the team better all game through. That means a team that formerly played close games against mediocre teams and got whomped by good teams now whomps mediocre teams and plays its close games against good teams. It's gotten better, thanks to its coach!
The lesson? Close games are a coin flip. It’s not toughness or attention to detail or any of the other fairy tales that people like to make up about it.
Edit: The bolded section is actually from Jim Glass
Couldn't have said it better, now please don't steal Christmas this year.
On Play Calling
People seem upset by the way Jason Garrett called the game Yesterday. I have two separate points on this.
Firstly, I think there is just criticism in the second to last offensive drive. I personally would've wished for a screen but was not unhappy with how it was called. Penalties killed that drive, like they did most drives Yesterday.
Secondly, People say that JG was handcuffing Romo. That's not how I look at it. What do we know about Romo? He likes to play hero, a very valuable trait in close games, especially when you are behind. However Jason Garrett was doing right by this team and Romo by calling things the way he did. First of all, he is preserving Romo's confidence, sorry if you don't like to hear that but just like Pitchers, Quarterbacks need confidence. By letting Romo go out on a relative high note, in comparison to throwing the game away, he has begun to plant the seeds to turn Romo into the 4th Quarter player he wants. Second he trusted his Offense to get a first down without Romo, what a horrible request I know, and he trusted his defense to hold Tom Brady to at most a field goal. The reasoning was correct even if the results were unfortunate. But I could be completely wrong.
On The Offensive Line
It was offensive. Next
Ticky Tack, but they were primarily on two groups: The Offensive Line, and Anthony Spencer. This should tell us something. I'm not sure what though.
Which Way Does the Wind Blow?
What am I a Meteorologist? Go check the Weather Channel or something. Oh... you meant who do I agree with this week.
Well, while I have been rather optimistic the past couple of weeks for this season. That opinion is beginning to change slightly. We are a couple of defensive players and the maturation of an O-line away from a championship. This would probably be even worse if Rob Ryan gets picked up for a Head Coach next year. Hopefully Eberflus is taking notes.
You'll notice FiTaT appears a lot in my posts, OCC and he are the best Stat Guys on this site. He had a great piece on interceptions that I agree with, which also adds to my point about clutchness.
On my Navel
What exactly is a moral victory? I'd like to see a team not try to take positives away from a loss. Tell me when the Patriots or the Packers abandon this horrible notion. Moral victories only seem pointless when we lose to a massively inferior team. Please name one of those we've faced so far.
That's it for this week. Join me once again next week for a look once again at the inanity of excellence.