Yesterday, Mike Sando from ESPN's NFC West blog ran a story in which he used LeBron James' perceived lack of 'clutchness' against the Mavs as a starting point for a look at the 'clutchness' of NFC West quarterbacks.
ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer used that story to look at Tony Romo's performance in clutch situations. Archer found that over his career, Romo has averaged a 101.5 passer rating in the fourth quarters of games with a score differential of seven points or less.
He also writes that since 2006, only Peyton Manning has a higher rating in comparable situations (103.7) than Romo. The only blemish on Romo's stats was the 2010 season (69.7) in which he dipped under 100 for the first time in his five NFL seasons.
But is there really such a thing as 'clutchness', and how would the NFC East QBs fare in such a comparison?
In essence, FO found that good QBs are good regardless of situation. And what we commonly think of as 'clutch QBs' are players who are usually pretty good in no-clutch situations as well.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are very good in the 4th quarter of close games, but they're just as good in the 2nd quarter of not-so-close games. Good players play well in clutch situations not because they have some ability to elevate their talent in "the clutch," but because they are good players, and their average statistical level of performance is very good. Most statistics with decent sample size indicate that players perform about as well in "the clutch" as they do the rest of the time - especially in team sports where it takes a lot more than a single player to win.
But since we've opened this particular can of worms, let's look at how how the NFC East QBs fared in "4th quarter, +/- 7 points" situations last year and over their career, as measured by passer rating. Couple of notes up front: the "4th quarter, +/- 7 points" split is only available back to 2006, so any data for Manning, Vick, Grossman or Kitna beyond that is not included.
Kolb only accumulated stats in that particular situation in 2010. Also, I'm listing McNabb because until further notice, he's still with the Redskins. Finally, Vick's 'career' clutch numbers only include the 2006 and 2010 seasons. I'm sure he had a number of clutch situations in between, but not on the football field.
|QB||Passer Rating||Rating 4th Q,
|Attempts||Rating 4th Q,
Romo's fourth quarter numbers are largely in line with his overall numbers, and 2010 likely was an aberration, as it hopefully was for the whole team.
McNabb's, Kitna's and Grossman's passer rating in close fourth quarters are all between 8 and 14 points below their career average. Manning's fourth quarter clutch numbers are higher than his career numbers, but 2010 brings his numbers a little more down to earth, just like Romo's numbers came down last year. While Michael Vick had a truly outstanding year in 2010, his only other year in this analysis is 2006 - where he had a 61.0 rating in close fourth quarter situations. Which Vick will we see in 2011?
As for Kevin Kolb, I hear the Eagles want a first round pick for him.