Posted: June 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 46 Comments »

Barry Bonds was an amazing baseball player.  Forget the roided up guy who hit 73 bombs.  Go look at the guy from the late 80’s and early 90’s who had a great combination of speed and power and got on base 45 percent of the time in a couple of seasons.  That was raw talent.  The roids came later (as evidenced by a skull that kept growing…kinda odd, don’t you think?).

LeBron James is an amazing basketball player.  I don’t care much for the NBA, but you don’t have to watch him much to see that he is incredibly gifted and can do special things.

Barry never won a title.  LeBron hasn’t either and you wonder if he will.

The popular criticism is that both guys lack heart.  I think that’s too simplistic.  Both guys were/are amazing because of what they can do on a given night.  The problem is that titles are all about the moment.  They come from doing amazing things on a specific night, often at a specific time.  The game winning moment might come in the early 4th quarter, the 5-minute mark or the 5-second mark.

To win a title you need 1 of 2 things.  You need a team that is so dominant that it just romps to the title (1985 Bears, 1983 Sixers) or you need clutch players.  The Pats won 3 SBs early in Tom Brady’s career.  The team has been more dominant in some recent years, but either hasn’t made it back or lost the SB.  Why?  The earlier Pats teams lacked great players, but they had guys who were at their best in championship moments.  Brady might be the best postseason QB of all time.  Deion Branch had 21 catches after playing his first 2 Super Bowls.  Willie McGinest held the NFL record for postseason sacks.  Adam Vinatieri is the most clutch PK I’ve ever seen.  Rodney Harrison has 7 career postseason INTs.  And so on.

The Eagles have come up short in the clutch department over the years.  We saw some clutch play in 2008, but not in 2009 or 2010.  Unfortunately the ’08 team came up short in the crucial moments of the NFC title game.  Will that change moving forward?  Can it?

As much as we love blowout wins and offensive explosions, we’ll learn a lot about the 2012 Eagles from how they play in tight games.  The man who must step up and make the big plays is QB Michael Vick.  The only real comeback that he’s led us on is the Miracle in the Meadowlands II.  That was great, but it was magic and not a formula that can be used again.  We need to see Vick get the ball down by 6 points and lead us to a late 4th quarter TD.  We did get a late TD vs the Giants in 2010, but it came on a 50-yard run by Shady.  We need to see Vick lead us on a methodical drive.

The Eagles must win some tight games and make some clutch regular season plays if the team is going to really challenge for a Super Bowl.  If you can’t do it from Sept.-December, then you sure aren’t going to do it in January or February.

Of course, we could always just win 49-3 each week and not worry about clutch moments.  I’d be fine with that.

46 Comments on “Clutch”

  1. 1 OneNason said at 2:32 AM on June 13th, 2012:

    Tommy, I couldn’t agree more. I love the blowouts (especially within the division), but the tight games are not only inevitable but also crucial in forging leaders and empowering teams. I can’t help but be optimistic about this Eagles team in this respect. There’s a good mix of veteran leadership and wide-eyed, youthful, insatiable confidence. Couple that with talent and depth throughout the roster and an experienced coaching staff with no excuses and good things have to happen – right?! Let’s hope so.

    Now being truly, consistently clutch… that has yet to be proven. Again, I’ll side with the optimistic crowd here. Vick is key in this, but not alone. McCoy’s late run against the giants was amazing. It reminded me of Montgomery’s great run vs. the cowboys way back when. Clutch! Vick was great against the giants in the (4th of the) new miracle but so was Jackson, Celek and Maclin. The defense was ruthless at the end of that game, too – not giving up anything. The whole team was clutch for that half of a quarter. It’s hard to say what sparked those fires, but we certainly need to see more of it. The more sparks, the more chance for fires. Personally, I hope to see more clutch defensive play this season. I’d love to see the equivalent of stopping Emmitt on 4th and 1, twice, a few times. Is it September yet?

    Tonight, LeBron was good. Wade was off. Durant was clutch. Westbrook was also clutch (at the end at least). Collison was a clutch role player. That’s the clutch I hope to see from the Eagles this year – team clutch.

  2. 2 Alex Karklins said at 8:52 AM on June 13th, 2012:

    You’re willing to concede 3 points to the opposition? Don’t forget that we have King Dunlap and Derek Landri returning with a full offseason to practice blocking kicks.

  3. 3 TommyLawlor said at 9:30 AM on June 13th, 2012:

    Well done, sir. My apologies.

  4. 4 Matthew Verhoog said at 9:49 AM on June 13th, 2012:

    Your forgetting that we don’t do shutouts, it’s part of Andy’s mantra, No shutout’s No Superbowls, No salads.

  5. 5 TommyLawlor said at 10:43 AM on June 13th, 2012:

    That is the true Axis of Evil.

  6. 6 Tyler Phillips said at 9:46 AM on June 13th, 2012:

    49-3 sounds good, but if this is a top 5-7 D then 28-10 is fine with me.

  7. 7 Brian Winings said at 10:14 AM on June 13th, 2012:

    Skull growth is the HGH, not the ‘roids.

  8. 8 TommyLawlor said at 10:44 AM on June 13th, 2012:

    That does make sense…human growth hormones.

  9. 9 austinfan said at 11:28 AM on June 13th, 2012:

    There are very few clutch players in any sport, Sabermetrics have shown this, as have studies in basketball, harder to show in football, but if you look at QB 4th Q stats over a career, only a very few raise their game significantly in those situations (yes, Eli is one).

    Much of clutch is simply matchups and overall team play.

    Brady wasn’t asked to do that much with the Patriots early in his career, his stats are those of a caretaker QB, spreading the ball around with a lot of short passes – because he had a dominant defense, so his role was move the chains and don’t make mistakes. Later in his career, as he improved the Patriot defense went downhill so he had to make more plays and take more chances, so he forced more balls and made more mistakes.

    We see this dichotomy with Peyton and Eli. No one would suggest that Eli was the better QB, yet he’s now considered by many to be more “clutch.” Which is somewhat fallacious. Peyton had to carry his teams, the one year the Colts played great defense in the playoffs, he could have a subpar game and still come away with a ring. People forget while Eli won two SBs, he also got knocked out in the playoffs in the first round two years (by the Eagles) and missed the playoffs two years because he choked so many games in the regular season. What was the key in his SB runs? Great defense that allowed him to play a cautious, no mistake style of QB – if you have to score 30 points you gamble, if your defense is dominating you throw the ball away and punt. In 2007 he gambled and got lucky (Asante’s drop and Tyree’s catch) in the SB. In 2011 he played much better but also had the defense that made it easy (or how Dilfer and Brad Johnson have rings).

    Now some players get exposed in tough games simply because it’s hard to play well against better teams, if you compare regular season to playoff records for most QBs, only Warner, Eli and Brees really shine. Same at other positions, only a few players make a lot of big plays in the playoffs. In most cases, it’s a matter of playoffs being more physical, this also holds in ice hockey, one reason I was happy to see the Flyers use Leino’s money on Talbot is that Talbot has a career record of playing better in the playoffs than the regular season.

    Much of playing big in big games is simply playing well on both sides of the ball, because that gives you another chance – if the Eagle defense wasn’t swiss cheese against the Patriots in the 2004 SB, McNabb gets a chance to calm down and maybe he’s the hero. Had Vick throw the ball 3 feet higher to Cooper in 2010, no one would be calling Rodgers “clutch.”

    Some is matchups, Eagles matchup well against the Giants, but not the Patriots, but the Giants are Patriot killers.

    Now it’s true the Eagles haven’t had a lot of players raise their game, Westbrook and who else? And this was especially true on defense – but I wonder if this wasn’t an artifact of JJ, who disguised his defenses’ weaknesses against weaker opponents but who was exposed by better offenses. So Eagle fans assumed their guys didn’t come up big because they overestimated the quality of their teams.

    Eagle post-season records:
    McNabb: 9-7 record 341 577 3752 59.1% 6.50 24-17 80.0
    Garcia 2-4 record 126 217 1357 58.1% 6.25 7-7 73.8
    Vick 2-4 record 79 141 977 56.0% 6.93 5-4 77.6 (5g with the Falcons)

    Westbrook: 11-9 129 591 4.6 3 / 33 334 10.1 3
    Duce 9-9 114 464 4.1 2 / 35 363 7.5 3
    Bucky 10-0 58 240 4.1 1 / 13 99 7.6

    Pinkston 10-10 32 433 13.5 2
    Thrash 9-7 20 274 13.7 1
    Avant 6g 20 238 11.9 1
    Fred-x 7g 17 187 11.0 1
    R Brown 4 g 13 166 13.8 0

    LJ Smith 9g 18 191 10.6 1
    C Lewis 10g 38 409 10.8 3
    B Celek 5 g 24 235 9.8 3

    TO 11g 54 751 13.9 5

    Cole 7-7 28-13 1.5 3.5 (I think this reflects overuse during the regular season)
    Parker 9-7 19-4 1.5 2.0
    Kearse 3-3 4-5 2.0 1.0
    Burgess 6-3 12-1 4.0 4.0 0 1
    Whiting 9-7 14-5 1.0 2.0 0 1
    Douglas 6-6 13-2 4.0 2.0 0 1 1ff

    Bunkley 9-7 15-4 1.0 1.0
    Patterson 7-7 22-11 0.0 2.0
    Walker 13-9 19-8 3.0 5.0 0 1
    Simon 11-11 27-6 1.0 2.0 0 2
    Thomas 5-5 11-4 2.0 2.0

    Trotter 10-10 63-9 1.5 4.0 1 4 1ff
    Emmons 7-7 21-12 0.0 1.0 1 2
    D Jones 5-5 12-4 0.0 2.0 0 2
    Gardner 7-4 19-10
    Caldwell 5-5 22-7 1.0 0.0 0 1

    Lito 8-5 14-3 0.0 0.0 0 5 1ff
    B Taylor 7-7 11-3 0.0 2.0 2 5
    Vincent 8-8 29-10 0.0 0.0 1 9
    Brown 13-9 28-3 0.0 0.0 1 11
    Dawk 18-18 74-15 2.0 3.0 4 9 3ff
    Mikell 12-5 25-5 0.0 3.0 1 4
    Lewis 7-5 23-6 0.0 0.0 0 5
    Moore 5-5 15-4 0.0 0.0 3 5 3ff

    Imjuries hurt, H Thomas and Burgess were playoff performers
    Trotter, Dawk, Moore stepped up, Douglas until 2002 when it was clear he was finished.

    Biggest disappointments: Simon, Vincent, Lito, Emmons

  10. 10 TommyLawlor said at 2:23 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Lots of material to discuss. Might require a separate post.

  11. 11 D3Keith said at 7:07 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Asante’s drop is probably the greatest argument of all time that clutch is a fallacy.

    See also my lengthier post below. I am not a big believer in “clutch,” as it is often defined by the NFL public. Basically it means “successful in a key situation” but it’s not something we can really quantify or use to predict future success in the same situation.

    Except with kickers. Because what they do is so largely uninfluenced by the rest of the players on the field and so largely influenced by their mental ability to treat a big kick like any other kick, I make an exception for them.

  12. 12 Midnight_Greenville said at 7:52 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    This is so true. Would Brady be thought of as clutch as he is today if not for the tuck rule? They missed the playoffs the next year. Who knows how that changes what happens in subsequent years.
    FredEx and McNabb were clutch in 2003 against the Packers, but not the Panthers. Or maybe they were just lucky.
    What about 2008. McNabb and DJax are clutch in the NFCCG if the defense holds the Cardinals off the scoreboard after the Eagles took the lead. But because they couldn’t repeat the feat of bringing them from behind, they’re not.

    But, without arguing over what the definition really means, despite the overall success for the Eagles over the Andy Reid era, there are very few examples of any of his teams coming back in meaningful games on their last drive to win it. And unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Coughlin and Eli.

  13. 13 A_T_G said at 9:07 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    This comment has so many well thought out views and statistics, I am almost intimidated to share this reaction. Having spent the last couple of days touring Colonial Williamsburg, the phrase “Giants are Patriot killers” takes on an interesting secondary connotation.

    Personally, the argument for and against clutch boil down to one of sample size. One play in the right situation get one player labeled as clutch and another as not. On the one hand, run Eli’s quintessential clutch play 100 times and the next 99 Tyree doesn’t make that helmet catch. On the other hand, the argument for being clutch is that they only needed to make it once, when it counted, and they did.

  14. 14 Yuri said at 11:28 AM on June 13th, 2012:

    “The Eagles must win some tight games and make some clutch regular season plays if the team is going to really challenge for a Super Bowl. If you can’t do it from Sept.-December, then you sure aren’t going to do it in January or February.”

    Whoa whoa whoa! I have to disagree with many of the points in the post and with the conclusion above. I think we are looking back at an 8-8 season with 4th quarter collapses and a huge scoring differential and that may cloud our judgement as fans a little bit and raise the mystique of “clutch.” The premise of Tommy’s post is obvious–either the best team in the league wins the title or it doesn’t. I don’t really see what conclusions could be drawn from this — besides that on any given Sunday anyone could be beat and it’s good to get hot in the playoffs.

    1) Let’s build the team to romp–one cannot build a “clutch” team or predict it. I do not think there’s any research supporting player “clutchiness” concept (but plenty of aposteriori explanations “team A beat team B because it played better–clutch!!!”). For Eagles as a whole, there’s only one thing that I see could be made “more clutch”– AR’s in game management (would it?)

    2) Your conclusion is WAY too early on LeBron. And, in basketball, for better or for worse, with only 5 players on court, a star often carries the team (out of good NBA teams, only San Antonio may be an exception to the rule that plays true team basketball). I think LeBron has proven his “carrying power” aplenty when he was in Cleveland (his final series loss notwithstanding) and he was the prime reason MIA beat BOS and is the finals.

    3) I don’t think the cross-sport analogy applies to baseball either. In football, you need a team effort to win, in basketball you need a star, and in baseball one good player is not nearly enough–you basically need more stars (or, with a nod to sabermetrics, more productive players that are not necessarily stars) than the other team–it’s not a true team sport. The baseball equivalent of 2011 Eagles would have had an excellent (and by that I mean 15-20%) shot at being World Series champs. Bonds never played on loaded teams like the Yankees or recent versions of Phillies.

    4) On the one hand I do not think “Vick must make plays” is the right concept (singling out a player in the team sport)–on the other hand, losses vs ATL (almost definitely), NYG, ARI, NE and SEA (maybe) could be wins if Vick were healthy for 4 quarters. The Eagles were healthy in 2011 (and much healthier than NYG)–it’s just that Vick’s (Or Eli’s) health is more important than some other players.

    So my conclusion is build a good team and stay healthy. The “clutch” will come.

  15. 15 TommyLawlor said at 2:34 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    #1 – You do build the team to romp. You hope for domination. I don’t think I said otherwise in the post. Point is that you must be able to win tight games. The 1999 Rams had a couple of tight regular season games. They lost at least one of them. They got to the playoffs and were able to win a pair of tight games.

    Part of this point is that you cannot count on blowouts in the postseason. The team must be able to win tight games.

    #2 – LeBron could win 5 titles. That’s why I said “you wonder if he ever will”. I did not conclude he won’t. My point is that he’s struggled in some clutch situations, despite being clearly a great player. His overall numbers are spectacular, but he doesn’t always live up to the moment. That could change.

    #3 – You’re making too much of my examples. I was just using them as a way of taking an old topic and giving it a new presentation. Notice I didn’t jump to any definitive conclusions about any of these players/teams.

    #4 – “The clutch will come.” I could not disagree with this more. Some teams rise to the occasion. Others do not. The Pats were a great postseason team. The Falcons have been abysmal. The difference isn’t just talent. It isn’t just coaching. It isn’t luck. Some teams/players thrive under pressure while others struggle. They don’t embrace the moment. Tiger Woods was a dominant golfer because he was gifted, but also mentally and emotionally tough. He lived for the spotlight.

    I hope the 2012 Eagles prove to be a clutch team. I hope Vick is able to play well in the 4th Qtr and to win some close games. I hope, but I don’t know. We need to see him do it. And it will take more than him being healthy.

  16. 16 Kevin_aka_RC said at 2:55 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    New Post topic: which Eagles do you consider “clutch”? DSJ’s playoff numbers are pretty bad (Maclin’s 2 game sample size is pretty good). Trent Cole has been historically MIA in the playoffs while Jenkins was an animal for the Packers in the post-season.

  17. 17 TommyLawlor said at 3:09 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Interesting question.

  18. 18 Yuri said at 7:10 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    We can disagree. I don’t believe in clutch. Team and player performance will vary play to play and game to game, and some of this variability could be explained (injuries, schedule, bad coaching decisions) and some is just inherent. I think there’s basically nothing to be done in terms of making 99% of battle-hardened NFL players perform better in the crucial situations or playoff games than they perform otherwise.

    Also, I think there’s a confusion of terms. I in no way discount the existence of the mental toughness aspect of a game/competition (especially so if we are talking golf which is certainly a game with a huge mental aspect) and some golfers/NFL teams/players are better than others on that aspect (at his best, Tiger had BOTH more talent and more mental toughness than anyone on tour). What I disagree with is the notion that some situations are more “clutch” than others and that is where the cream will rise. Did Tiger perform better vs the field in majors vs regular tournaments? Would team A be expected to split with “more mental” team B in regular season but lose 9 out of 10 in playoffs?

    In my view, if a team wins lots of close games it’s a lucky team rather than one possessing a special “it”. If a team wins in romps but loses close games it’s not an “unlucky” team but a good one–it may be better than all its opponents but you cannot win every game by 7 points–sometimes you win by 17 and sometimes you lose by 3–this kind of team should win much more often than it loses.

    The 2011 Eagles were an unusual team finishing 8-8 with many dominant wins and close losses (which begat the whole clutch discussion). Per FO, PHI was 24th in league in variability of performance game-to-game (higher # means more variable). NYG were a very similar team to the Eagles in the sense that they had a slightly worse mean level of performance and slightly lower variability but still above average in both categories. If W/L record was reflective of average performance both teams would finish 9-7, but only one actually did.

  19. 19 D3Keith said at 7:19 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Even in basketball there’s a way to refute the LeBron unclutchiness (I believe he made 43% of his shots this season in the final minute with a chance to tie or take the lead, second only to Durant, and way ahead of guys like Carmelo, who made 30%)

    Two of the game-winning shots in Jordan’s title runs were passes to Paxson and Steve Kerr, both of whom knocked the shots down. I’m not a big LeBron fan but I like when they ask him if he’ll shoot the game-winner next time and he says “I’ll make the best basketball play.”

    In essence, that’s what I want to see out of Vick. Situation matters, but make the best football play. Win it yourself if you can, but remember with McCoy, Jackson, Maclin et. al., he needs to take care of the ball and get it to his playmakers.

    McNabb went too far overboard avoiding the run and trying to be known as a pocket passer, but it made it such a more dangerous weapon when he busted it out. Vick’s escapivity (sure, that’s a word) is even more dangerous if teams are lulled to sleep and forget about it.

  20. 20 Steve H said at 12:09 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Lebron seizes up because he fears failure, I think “clutch” players learn to be courageous in the face of that fear.

  21. 21 Anders Jensen said at 1:04 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    When you got the whole basketball world against you, wouldnt you be alittle fearful of failure?

  22. 22 Steve H said at 4:25 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    I’m not blaming him, but that’s where courage comes in, he needs to find his courage late in games to face that fear. It’s not an easy thing to do and some are more driven than others.

  23. 23 Mikko Koikkalainen said at 2:08 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Here is Finland`s contibution to Eagles. You are welcome

  24. 24 TommyLawlor said at 2:23 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    My nephew is gonna love this.

  25. 25 Mikko Koikkalainen said at 2:27 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    This will also make Eagles the most popular team in Finland. Im expecting team to visit us after the Super Bowl victory.

  26. 26 TommyLawlor said at 3:15 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    The Eagles – conquering the world one area at a time.

    First Delaware. Then Denmark. Now Finland. Next up…Corsica!!!

  27. 27 aub32 said at 3:13 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Hey Tommy I agree with your points but don’t really know if the Eagles’ players need to be clutch. If we could have just maintained leads instead of allowing teams to comeback from sometimes 2 score deficits we wouldve seen very few clutch situations. I’m more concerned with not giving the game away than if Vick can lead a last second drive. Granted there will inevitably be turnovers, but if we can minimize then in the critical parts of games it will eliminate the need to make last second scores in a game we clearly controlled.

  28. 28 TommyLawlor said at 3:27 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Part of being clutch is avoiding mistakes. Sometimes the play to make is throwing the ball away or going down after 4 yds instead of fighting for 5 and having the ball ripped out. “Clutch = smart” a lot of the time.

  29. 29 D3Keith said at 12:55 AM on June 14th, 2012:

    This I very much agree with.

    If Eli goes down, Tyree never happens, but since it was 4th down the only choice is to fight. If it’s second down, you just eat it and play another down.

  30. 30 SebastianAubrey said at 3:16 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    I think clutch play is one part of three. The others being execution and avoiding metal mistakes. Look at last year in the playoffs. Saints beat 49ers if they didn’t have 5 first quarter turnovers. 49ers beat G-men if Williams doesnt shit himself on punt return. And possibly Pats beat NYG if Welker makes that catch and Mario doesn’t make that catch.

  31. 31 D3Keith said at 9:11 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Metal mistakes? Like Whitesnake’s second album?

    (has no idea what I’m talking about but there are no bad Whitesnake references)

  32. 32 Jay Ernst said at 5:50 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Being clutch in football is a lot more tangible than some of us are making it right now. I think the biggest thing that makes a team clutch is having certain TYPES of talents. There are hidden plays throughout games that don’t show up in the stats at all but are really important. Being able to gain 1 yard on 3rd and 1, having a pass completion go for 8 yards instead of 6 on 3rd and 7, making a tackle a yard before the marker than getting pushed back and tackling the ball carrier after they’ve picked up the first, getting a touchdown on 3rd and 3 from the 3 yard line instead of settling for a FG…these are the plays that can really change a games outcome. And, it’s possible to have players on your team that can accomplish these tasks. The question you have to ask is do we have those players that push forward and pick up the yard consistently, catch the ball just past the marker, tackle the runner cleanly and drive him backward, can score in the redzone…if we do that, and minimize mistakes while maximizing consistency we’ll be clutch in the 4th qtr. If not we’ll be more boom and bust like we have been in recent years.

  33. 33 TommyLawlor said at 6:10 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Lots of truth in this.

    Too often we equate clutch with spectacular. That’s a mistake.

  34. 34 D3Keith said at 7:21 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    I like this too, although the coach cliches for this are “do the little things” and “The game isn’t won on the last play” (or its derivative, “there are 5 plays that decide a game, but you never know when they’ll be, so you have to play them all hard”) and not “be clutch.”

    If you do your job more often than not, then you will be clutch more often than not as well.

  35. 35 D3Keith said at 6:52 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    I think clutch is a largely fabricated concept.

    Of course there’s something to the idea that some athletes deep inside are afraid in the big moments, but others crave them. I think most do. Me personally, I only felt fear on the field when I knew I wasn’t prepared. If I had practiced hard and done film work and all that, I didn’t get butterflies at the opening kickoff (like I did in high school), I didn’t fear big situations, and I didn’t fear going against players who had more physical talent. The only thing to fear is that you won’t put forth your best when it is needed.

    The fact that Mr. Clutch hit Wes Welker in his hands in this year’s Super Bowl, in my mind, has very little to do with clutch. It was simply a drop. Or a high pass that Welker had to go and get. I don’t believe Welker, who I hate, or Tom Brady were weak-willed in that moment. They just didn’t connect.

    If they had, we’d be slobbering further over how clutch Brady is.

    If a pass skips off Santonio Holmes’s hands much the same way at the end of the Steelers-Cardinals Super Bowl, is Ben Rothlisberger any less clutch, even if he makes that exact same throw and leads the exact same drive that put him into position to make that throw?

    There are way too many plays in a game, and way too many players in action at any given time to deserve all the focus we put on “clutch” moments.

    I view this very much like a poker player would. You can make the correct play and not always get the correct result, in each single occurrence. Over time, however, making the correct play leads to a greater frequency of positive results.

    As football fans, we draw far-too-grand conclusions from one-play sample sizes.

  36. 36 Yuri said at 8:02 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Just for the record, fully agree.

  37. 37 TommyLawlor said at 8:40 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Clutch is about more than one play. It can be a quarter/inning/period. A half. A whole game.

    Agree that focusing on a single play is too simplistic and random.

    Remember the famous quote about porn from the SC justice…I don’t know how to define it, but I know it when I see it. I don’t know how to define “clutch” but I do know that it exists.

  38. 38 D3Keith said at 9:09 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Fair enough.

    It exists, I just think it has little predictive value as a label.

    IMO, if you’re capable of throwing a game-winning TD pass against a very good team in the regular season, you’re capable of doing it in the playoffs, even if it’s never happened in your previous 7 playoff games (or something like that).

    Us sports fans are obsessed with certainties and absolutes, because the results of our games give us the very few certainties and absolutes we have in our lives. But past results don’t always correlate with capabilities or future results.

    Basically I’m saying McNabb could have led a last-minute drive to win a Super Bowl, had the stars aligned properly. 🙂

  39. 39 P_P_K said at 9:34 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Tommy said: Remember the famous quote about porn from the SC justice…I don’t know how to define it, but I know it when I see it. I don’t know how to define “clutch” but I do know that it exists.

    In my experience, “clutch” is sports equivalent to “cool” in social spheres. They are both undefinable and subtle, and they both also exist. For instance, think of one buddy to be with while trying to pick up two woman. He’d have to be cool. Similar scenario: one guy to choose for your team for the big pick-up game. He’d have to be clutch.

    One could argue that my examples of “clutch” and “cool” are based on subjective perceptions. True, but so is beauty, ethics, truth, and most everything about human relationships that can’t be posted on a scoreboard.

  40. 40 austinfan said at 9:45 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    How soon we forget that Holmes dropped a sure TD pass before catching the one that won the game. It was also perfectly thrown.

    Actually, choking is more obvious, McNabb in the 1st Q of the SB, the last series against Arizona, on the other hand, clutch against GB. The difference, he played loose when he had no chance to win, like coming back against Arizona in the second half, but tight when it got close.

    There are players who play better under pressure, Tiger Woods in his prime. Michael Jordan of course, but they are rare.

    Patriots are a good example, did they stop being clutch? Or did they stop playing smothering defense that forced mistakes and became a team that depended on making numerous good offensive plays that was vulnerable to good defenses?

    I think in football, the key to clutch is great defense, because it takes the pressure off your offense to make plays and puts pressure on the opposing defense not to allow plays. Which is why I like Washburn’s scheme, give me a fast, attack defense that isn’t playing passive and I’ll force a lot of good teams to choke. The way to stop a top offense isn’t to try and stop them, it’s to pressure them and force them to play a half second faster, they’ll still make plays but they’ll also make mistakes.

  41. 41 A_T_G said at 9:32 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    For the record, this post and comments are what made Iggles Blog my favorite, and why this blog has filed that void, which I feared was impossible to fill, so,effectively. Somehow, Tommy, you create a culture, on the anonymous Internet, where comments of “Eli is clutch,” “No, Eli sucks!” “No, you suck.” are absent, replaced by thought out, researched disagreement.

    I am sure that readers knowing you, and other readers, will take the time to read and consider their comments is a big part of that and I wanted to thank you for this haven for fans who don’t see nuance as weakness in fandom.

  42. 42 P_P_K said at 9:38 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    Clutch comment.

  43. 43 TommyLawlor said at 11:29 PM on June 13th, 2012:

    I love the back and forth. A good discussion is so much more fun than a shouting match. I’m not afraid to hear other view points. I appreciate that many readers here are the same way. The goal is to figure out the best answer to the question at hand, not just to “be right”.

  44. 44 eagleizeit said at 2:29 AM on June 14th, 2012:

    Tommy – I remember in 4 games at the beginning of the season where we could of won, but because the WR’s wouldn’t catch the easy passes at the end of the game at clutch moments we lost. I know it’s easier to single one person out, like Vick, but what can he do if our WR’s choke in those clutch situations? Even Avant caused one of the games and I forget if it was Maclin or DJAX that did it twice and the other one of those two did it once. That’s part of the reason I’d really like the Eagles to sign Plax. Plax has lots of experience and doesn’t choke on clutch plays; he seems to turn it up a couple notches when it’s clutch play. I wonder if that’s possible that it’s a Giants thing. Just like in the SB their WR’s stepped up and caught better when they needed to drive it down and get a TD at the end of the game. Without Plax our only chance will be not to fall behind unless Shady or Vick runs. Maybe a couple games when they get in a groove and have lots of time to catch up, but our WR’s are too mentally fragile to catch clutch passes at the end they’re the opposite of the Giants WR’s during clutch moments.

  45. 45 eagleizeit said at 3:04 AM on June 14th, 2012:

    NE’s WR’s failed at the end of the SB unlike the Giants and that’s probably why Bill Belichick is addressing the WR position so intensely this offseason. It would be great if the Eagles coaches and Roseman would be able to realize or admit they have a huge problem when it comes to clutch WR’s, a lot bigger than the Patriots. Then they could fix the problem by bringing in someone like Plax who’s proven that he could easily handle those clutch catches. If we even signed him for 1 yr his enjoyment, mental toughness and higher comcentration level of catching clutch passes should rub off some on D-Jax and Maclin. Then they can grow as players and handle the pressure situations easeier for the rest of their careers.

  46. 46 austinfan said at 1:06 PM on June 14th, 2012:

    Exactly how many “clutch” catches has Plax made in his entire career?
    Nor is he a great red zone player, his career high up to last season was 6, last year he had 7, Maclin has had a 7 red zone TD season and Celek a 6 TD season.

    Tyree made a “clutch” catch and was cut the next season, maybe Coughlin didn’t think it represented his norm.
    Manningham made a clutch catch and was allowed to leave in free agency.

    Santonio Holmes dropped a clutch catch, then came back a cuuple plays later and made a clutch catch – is he clutch or choke?

    Point is, beware of small sample size or judging a player on his first time or two in a pressure situation. I remember when I first had to speak in public as a consultant, I was nervous and spoke way too fast, then I taught college for a couple years, now I go to conferences and I’m cool as a cucumber. Sometimes, you need to get comfortable with pressure before you can perform.