Seven Random Thoughts About The Dallas Cowboys And Stuff

I have some ideas on how to improve the in-game experience. Dramatically.

Here are some random thoughts about the Cowboys and stuff that I've been meaning to write about but didn't. Until now, that is.

1) The SBNation team-by-team Position rankings sure like the Cowboys:

- Linebackers: No. 5
- Safeties: No. 12
- Cornerbacks: No. 4

Can't say I'm surprised by these rankings, but I know a couple of people who are hyperventilating right now.

2) I think the 3rd wide receiver "issue" is being blown way out of proportion. Sure, there's a question mark at the third WR spot. But for one thing, I'm excited by some of the prospects the Cowboys have lined up. The other thing is, I'm not sure that there are going to be all that many balls left for the third guy this year.

The top three guys will be Austin, Bryan and Witten (in alphabetical order). With a second tight end who can actually catch the ball, John Phillips might be a lot more involved in the passing game than his predecessor, and I think both Murray and Jones will see a lot of balls coming their way. It is not inconceivable that the 3rd wide receiver will have only the 7th highest yardage total on offense - unless of course the guy shows that he's a better receiving option than the two RBs and the second TE.

3) The NFL is thinking about ways to improve the in-stadium experience for football fans. One idea the brilliant minds in the NFL offices have come up with is to provide exclusive game audio "that could let fans listen to players wearing microphones on the field." You know what, I'm sure there are people who want to listen to what Joe Theisman sounded like in 1985 when Lawrence Taylor broke his leg. I'm also sure that 99.9% of paying fans don't ever want to hear anything like that over their audio channel. So here are some better ways to improve the in-stadium experience:

  • Put urinal cakes in the men's rooms with pictures of Michael Vick, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.
  • Force every team to have cheerleaders. The Bears, Packers, Lions, Steelers, Browns and Giants all do not have any official cheerleading squads. The Bills, Jets and Patriots all have cheerleaders so don't give me no crap about cold-weather teams and such nonsense. And free cheerleader calendars for all ticket holders!
  • Free popcorn for guys who take off their shirts when it's 20 below freezing. Free popcorn for girls who take off their their shirts regardless of the temperature.
  • And the wackiest idea of all: make it affordable to go to NFL games again.

4) The hate for Phil Costa has reached endemic proportions. I'm thinking about writing a glorious post about the future center of the Cowboys - and just to piss off everybody, it's going to be a Phil Costa fluff piece.

Here's what I think about Costa: Costa has phenomenal upper body strength, but was lacking lower body strength, which caused issues in his release and his ability to maintain leverage against defenders. A full offseason should fix that. But everybody keeps harping on about how short Costa's arms are. Three points:

  • First, if Costa's arms were really too short, wouldn't the Cowboys have released him by now? Costa can work on his lower body, but his arms aren't going to get any longer, short of some very complicated surgery.
  • Second, can anybody find an actual source confirming Costa's arm length? And don't come back with some nonsense where somebody spews Skip-Bayless-like-generalities about Costa's short arms. I want the exact length. In inches. Then I'd like to compare that length to Jeff Saturday (31 1/4), David Molk (32), Jason Kelce (32 1/2), Ben Jones (32 1/2), Kevin Zeitler (32 3/4) and Peter Konz (33).
  • %*^$#@ !

5) There is such a thing a "clutch performance", except it's not what most people think it is. I used to reflexively deny the existence of clutch. In fact, "clutch" as it is commonly used runs counter to any and all data-driven arguments. Most statisticians politely turn around and break wind in your direction when you mention clutch to them.

I for one don't buy the idea that a player has some kind of athletic superpowers that he can simply switch on when needed - except perhaps if your name is Tiger Woods (before his wife beat him up) or Michael Jordan. But there are many situations that can make a player appear to be "clutch" when in fact he isn't. Let's start with the simplest one:

  • Conditioning: Better physical conditioning may allow you to perform at your peak longer than your opponent. This may give you an advantage in the fourth quarter and give the impression of clutch performance, when in fact you're simply more consistent than your opponent.
  • Reputational Clutch: ESPN says a player is clutch. Therefore he is. Every time he wins it's because he's clutch; when he loses, it was bad luck. The Choker is the exact opposite. Every time he wins it's because he got lucky, when he loses it's because he's a choker. By the way, this is the most common form of clutchness.
  • Anti-Clutch: This is a guy who simply plays badly for the first three quarters and then finds a way to elevate his game to halfway normal levels. ESPN loves this kind of guy. They often call him Tim Tebow.
  • End-game skills: This is a guy who has a set of skills that are particularly valuable in the endgame. Think of a closer in baseball. Most closers probably wouldn't be any good as starters over six innings, but they can have HOF careers as closers. Does that make them clutch? In football, a QB who is proficient at running a no-huddle, two-minute offense is usually at an advantage in endgame situations. This is not because he is clutch. It's because he is better at a given aspect of the game.
  • The absence of choking: Players who maintain their performance despite increased pressure will appear to be "clutch", especially if their opponent cannot maintain his performance under pressure.Yet all they're doing is being consistent. No supernatural clutchness to be found anywhere; nothing for Sam and Dean to investigate.

6) Pre-season favorites usually go the way of the Dodo. According to SportsOddsHistory.com, only once in the past 12 years has the pre-season favorite ended up as Super Bowl Champs and only twice have teams with better than ten-to-one odds ended up on top. That's bad news for the Packers (6/1) and Patriots (13/2).

Also, NFL.com just crowned the Eagles and Bills offseason champs. In another sign that you simply make the narrative fit whatever you want these days, the Eagles are lauded for "accomplishing more by doing less" or "Eagles show maturity with their patience". Last year, the Eagles were also roundly praised and pre-anointed champions for doing the exact opposite and going "all in". The irony! Somebody should tell Alanis Morissette to write a song about it.

7) Deron Williams chooses Nets over Mavs. I don't follow basketball much even though the Mavericks have a German playing for them, and the Cowboys don't. I'm not even going to pretend I know what exactly happened that resulted in Deron Williams not signing with the Mavericks. But imagine for a minute if Jerry Jones had not landed Brandon Carr in free agency. He'd have been crucified, quartered, tarred and feathered all at the same time.

It would have been Carrmageddon in Cowboys Nation.

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