Since last Wednesday was July Fourth, we have delayed the FanPost of the Week awards extravaganza a week. Here, seven days removed from fetes and fireworks, we at BTB have much to celebrate, a veritable Independence Day of our own - freedom from the national media's unexamined takes on our Beloved 'Boys; freedom from the confines of the traditional sports story; freedom from ignorance about the subtleties of Xs and O's. Bear with me while I tease out this analogy a bit further: if we can accept the local Dallas scribes as English aristocrats, then the front page writers are the founding fathers, with O.C.C. as our Ben Franklin, the quintessential Enlightenment polymath.
But I digress. We need a fireworks show to cap this celebration, and the FPOTW awards are just the ticket. Despite the fact that the past fortnight has spanned the soggy middle of the no-news offseason, our members have done yeoman's work to churn out material worthy of a few collective "ooohs" and "ahhhs." Unlike what happened in San Diego last Wednesday, where en entire 18-minute fireworks show went of in 15 seconds, we'll have a separate series of bursts followed by a grand finale, during which we reveal this week's winner.
Propulsion skyrocket: Our FanPost feu d'artifice begins with five shots of Kool-Aid and five shots of caution, which happens to be the title of the latest FP offering from one of our best-named members, jerry_jones_killed_our_cowboys. In it, JJKOC serves up five reasons for hope and five for despair going in to the 2012 campaign. None of these are particularly groundbreaking; what is, however, is the force of JJKOC's analysis. For each, he develops a compelling argument, peppering his points with persuasive statistics. Crackle.
Who else makes the FPOTW honor roll? Hit the jump and find out...
Pyrotechnic Stars: Next up we have a couple of members, ScarletO and IckesJb, who have seen regular duty on the FPOTW pages thus far in 2012. This time around, these fine gentlemen receive recognition for multiple posts. The Ickster continues to grace us with his excellent "X's and O's" series; lately, he has authored two posts explaining the match-up zone pass coverage in great detail. In the first, he explains the general schema, which depends on subtle "pattern reading"; in the second, he uses a single 3rd and 6 red zone play from last October's Patriots game to show the high level of communication such reading requires in order to be successful. As per usual, whenever I read his stuff, I learn something essential about the game. I think you will, too - so go read his stuff! Bang.
Not to be outdone, ScarletO gives us what amounts to a three-part series on "clutchness." In parts one (here) and two (here), he builds a compelling case that success in the clutch is a byproduct of conditioning and mental "talent." As he puts it in part I,
...talent has a strong foundation in learning. Athletes manifest talent through the ability to learn physical and mental skills necessary to successfully execute sports specific tasks. There are countless examples of athletes improving athletic performance through superior mental skills and vice versa.
SO's focus on the mental aspect of athletic success leads him to conclude, in terms of clutchness, that being "considered an athlete that thrives in clutch situations depends on a multitude of factors, not the least of which is tied to mental superiority." Given that the Cowboys have seemingly placed a priority on football intelligence of late, ScarletO's conclusion would seem to suggest more clutch performances on the horizon.
And indeed, that's what he argues in what amounts to Part III, an analysis of the Cowboys' perceived lack of leadership, mental weakness and underachievement. After a (sometimes sickening) review of the knuckleheads and poor mental athletes that were brought in under the Wade Phillips administration (the poster child here is 2009 third-rounder Jason Williams), SO suggests that, by simulating game conditions in practice and bringing in better mental athletes, these old memes should soon be rewritten. Whistle.
Firecracker Pack: Next up is one of the most innovative FanPosts I've ever read. In the recent past, we have honored Hawkeye101 for his nostalgic take on the 70s Cowboys - a post in which he showed some rhetorical flourish. Here, he makes like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, giving us a detective story from the point-of-view of one Dick Diamond, P.I., who, of course, has a leggy dame walk into his office with a problem. I'm not gonna share what the problem is and how he solves it; you'll have to read the post to get the full story. Yes, you MUST read the story; its terrific stuff. Pow pow pow pow pow.
The Grand Finale: For those of you who read the FanPosts with any regularity, this week's top poster (another member of the all-name team, The Real Dirk Gently) should not come as a surprise; his post has already amassed a stunning 51 (!) recs. In the wake of Chris Canty's public call-out of Tony Romo, Mr. Gently decided to pen a superb refutation of all the old, tired memes surrounding the Cowboys' franchise quarterback. Tony Romo is a choker? Wrong. He plays badly in December and the playoffs? Try again. Yes, but he's a "gunslinger." Quite the opposite. At every juncture, Dirk provides compelling statistical evidence that Romo is in fact a clutch player who performs not only well, but historically well when it matters most. If only we could persuade Marshall Faulk and Warren Sapp to read Dirk's post. Ka-BOOM!
Give it up to Dirk Gently and all the rest of this week's nominees, and keep up the fine work, gents!
Well, folks, the fireworks show is over. I hope you enjoyed it. If not, there's leftover hot dogs and potato salad. Still down? Perhaps this will boost your spirits: we're one FPOTW column away from training camp!
Now that's something to celebrate!