The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Response to a Reader Email on Witten, Romo

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I answer all of the emails you guys send me, but I typically don’t publish them online. With the lack of content I’ve been posting lately, I figured it would be a good idea to post some responses as quick-and-easy content that’s relevant to a lot of you. Here’s an email I received this morning.

Jonathan,
I enjoy your articles on bleacher report, but just a couple of quick points on your recent article about the cowboys’ starting lineup–

1. Witten-D+?? What is your basis for asserting that he is a bad blocker? He is probably the best run-blocking tight end in the league. Did you see him block once the cowboys committed to running demarco over second half of the season? He was literally clearing out half of the defensive line. Every announcer who called those games remarked on his dominant run-blocking ability. He made several highlights on his sheer blocking alone.

2. Romo-you obviously are a statistics guy and so am I. But in Romo’s case, the numbers do lie. I’ve been working on a statistic that measures “critical moments”- i.e. Romo’s numbers during critical moments of games that have playoff implications. Romo’s numbers are not good compared to other quarterbacks. At all. He is not capable of leading a team deep into the playoffs. Why? Because he never has. And he fails to deliver in critical moments. Ill be happy to send those numbers to you when I finish them, but it’s hard not to understand that just from casually watching his late season performances year in and year out.

My response:

Thanks for writing in. I think we’re just going to disagree on Witten as a blocker because it’s kind of subjective, although if you look at the YPC for Dallas when he’s at the point of attack, it’s been lower than that behind the other TEs for years. When Bennett was in Dallas, the Cowboys averaged around 1.5 more YPC behind him than behind Witten. He’s poor in both run blocking and pass pro.

As far as Romo, I’d argue two points. First, “clutch” stats are naturally going to be weak because of a small sample. You’ll have to set some arbitrary parameters, like passer rating in the final two minutes of a game or something like that, but you won’t have all that many plays to study.

Second, it’s going to be a tough argument to make that a QB with the highest fourth quarter passer rating ever, including in close games and at the end of games, is poor in clutch situations. It will have to be a “yeah but” sort of argument that’s almost certainly again going to be based on a small, arbitrary sample. It seems more logical to say Romo isn’t any worse in clutch situations, but has had some bad luck in a few late-season games than it is to argue that he’s poor in the clutch, but has somehow managed all of these really impressive stats in situations we’d typically define as “clutch” for other players.

Again, thanks for reading and writing in.

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One Response to Response to a Reader Email on Witten, Romo

  1. Patrick Steele says:

    The guy who wants to prove that Romo isn’t clutch, using “clutch stats,” is simply crunching numbers utilizing a confirmation bias. Will he factor in all the 4th quarter comebacks he was involved in. It would seem to me that his comeback win against Washington (with bad back) displayed “clutch,” “toughness,” and “leadership” albeit subjectively, things that he had previously been criticized for.

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