…that’s a question you should ask yourself

I have little to say about the Buccaneers 24-21 win over the Lions. I mentioned last week that Tampa Bay was quickly improving, and had won 2 1/2 of its last three games (1/2 for going to OT @ Seattle), and they’d been playing much better than the 2-8 record they came to Detroit with would indicate.

That was three hours of ugly football.

The Buccaneers played poorly enough to lose, but everytime they tried to hand the hot W back to the Lions, Detroit handed it right back.

Tampa Bay allowed almost 400 yards of Detroit offense.

They committed 9 penalties, many of which were direct hits to prime scoring opportunities.

Rian Lindell missed two makeable field goals; from 35 and 50. The second should’ve been a 43 yard attempt but rookie QB Mike Glennon inexplicably took a sack when he was far enough outside of the pocket to have throw the ball away without a penalty.

Tampa totaled just 8 first downs of their own doing. Another via a Lions penalty.

A paltry 229 yards of total offense.

Bucs’ returner Eric Page also fair caught a ball with nothing but maybe ten yards of hash marks in front him. Then with under a minute to go in the 3rd quarter, down 21-17, Page fielded a punt that pinned Tampa on its own 5 (though Glennon, Chris Houston and the well-traveled Tiquan Underwood bailed him out of that poor decision).

Matthew Stafford had a second straight abysmal week. It went from bad in Pittsburgh to worse at Ford Field against Tampa. His doubters are thumping their chests now and it’s difficult to challenge them.

Some of the other stuff…I’m utterly unable to explain. No SOL. At least not to my eyes. Brandon Pettigrew ducking, Kris Durham, without Buccaneer pursuit, 360’d himself into a baffling turnover. A punt block. Perhaps my eyes deceive me, or it was an optical illusion, but I swear I saw Houston act as Underwood’s turbo button with a subtle nudge to his back while he tried to chase down what would be an 85 yard score.

You can say SOL, but ALL that?! Even SOL isn’t THAT omnipotent.

Hoax or not, the 50 year curse Bobby Layne placed on the Lions supposedly expired in 2008. At this point, is it feasible to blame everything else on some cryptic reason that Lyle Fife and Edwin Anderson, the Lions previous owners, don’t have Wikipedia entries?

Did the Curse of Bobby Layne metamorphose into the Ghost of Bobby Layne; one that now forever haunts Ford Field?

Way too much on a game I didn’t want to talk about.

I want to discuss Calvin Johnson. After the ‘329’ game it was predictable that Calvin vs. Jerry Rice, or Calvin or Jerry would become popular dialogue. I wrote about that last month.

Calvin’s currently the best most gifted receiver in the game, but Jerry is the best ever.

In his latest article on Grantland, Bill Simmons used several thousand words to gush over Calvin.

In four decades of watching football, three receivers stand out for me over everyone else: Rice, Megatron and Moss. I’d take Rice for any important game, Moss for any deep ball, and Megatron for any “sitting at home on a lazy October afternoon expecting to see someone kick ass for three hours” situation. I will remember watching all three. Even if it’s too early to wonder if Megatron can leapfrog those other two, he has launched the conversation.

As I write this, I sit seven tweets away from 16,000. I wish it required less tedious scavenging to find specific tweets, especially with that many. Among that intellect, snark and sarcasm from September to now, there’s been enough to have a follower or observer notice a humble theme of mien when it comes to my 140 characters about Calvin. He’s incredible. That’s obvious without him even requiring a uniform.

Before sharing the opinion, to be sincere, I’ll readily concede that my evidence is anecdotal. Perhaps twitterdotal. I’ve got no bone to pick, and I’m not intentionally trying to play the Calvin iconoclast.

Calvin Johnson doesn’t catch as many passes as I think his reputation would dictate.

Sorry for that convoluted sentence.

As we’ll explore later on, my eyes might even lead my mouth to say Calvin isn’t very clutch.

This is my go-to source when I Google NFL+STATS+DROPS.

By the time you will read this, it’ll have been updated to include Thursday and Sunday of Week 12.

The chart will show Calvin has been targeted 109 times, for 59 catches, with 5 drops for a miniscule drop % of 4.6. For context, Reggie Bush’s numbers go 54/36/7/13. The apparently graceless Davone Bess is 66/32/8/12.1. Rookie Kendbrell Thompkins is in that neighborhood as well.

That site only goes back to 1990. Drops can also be subjective, and sometimes little fault actually can be placed on the receiver.

When that receiver is Calvin Johnson though, with his reputation, I need to evoke the receiver edict that came from Buddy Ryan, and likely many teachers of the sport. If it hits your hands, you better catch it.

I’ll add, if you catch it, you damn well better not drop it.

In the article I linked above, comparing Rice & Johnson, I discovered that Rice was more surehanded that Calvin. At least in the context of turnovers. Semi-officially (can’t count deflections, tips, bad bounces and such…), Rice coughed up a ball every 11 games, and Calvin every 9. Rice also played in a barbaric era where defenders, if they hit like that today, would be exiled from the league.

There’s a quiet, but fierce debate – especially after David Ortiz’s World Series – to declare whether or not clutch hitting exists in baseball. Here’s a Google of the topic to peruse. Advanced statistics say it doesn’t, but perception might disagree with that or if you want to wade through it the way I do could micromanaging every single nuance of every situation.

I’d like to see the MLB sabretric community help decide if receivers exist.

That would be an enormous undertaking.

I’m not going to do that at this time.

Sites like Pro Football Focus have an impressive stockpile of statistics, but without having access to them, I can’t tell you if they have one that would define ‘clutch.’ I’d guess no, since it’s a war within a war among baseball fans.

Amid my admittedly anecdotal evidence, paired with the sour taste of WHO helped Tampa plunge the final dagger into the Lions, I’m going to proclaim Jerry Rice, not Calvin Johnson, a damn clutch receiver.

Perhaps it’s thanks to the veritable volume of 28 playoff games played, Rice leads history in scoring catches with 22. Rice also has 8 scores in 4 Super Bowls. 4-0 too. In those 28 games, Rice accumulated 2,245 yards. That’s average of 80 yards a game, and a score every 1.2 games, against the best teams in the NFL.

This wasn’t supposed to morph into another Rice > Calvin, so my apologies for that.

Calvin admitted to nerve damage last year hindering him, though not enough to prevent his charge towards two thousand receiving yards.

A friend of mine offered this during, then after the Buccaneers game.

<blockquote lang=”en”><p>I asked Calvin if that hit mid 4Q tweaked his back. He blew off the question verbally but his facial expression said more to me. <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Lions&amp;src=hash”>#Lions</a></p>&mdash; Denny Kapp (@DennyKapp) <a href=”https://twitter.com/DennyKapp/statuses/404734547566161920″>November 24, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

The point is that for the reminder of the season, and Calvin Johnson’s career, I want you to tell me if he actually performs up to his impervious reputation. Because of one two things is happening when I modestly, but correctly, censure Calvin; my thoughts are white noise caused by your blind allegiance to Megatron, or you’re blinded by the Lions more easily visible maladies.

By the way, I hope this doesn’t desecrate my chances of someone sending me the Megatron Rises collection from Nike.


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