Making Sense Of The Close-Games Theory

July 13th, 2015

lovie and lichtBack in 2009, the Bucs (3-13) lost four games by seven points or less and responded with a thrilling 10-win season in 2010.

Back in 2006, Tampa Bay (4-12) lost three games by seven points or less and took home the NFC South crown in ’07.

In 2004, the Bucs (5-11) lost eight games by seven points or less and rebounded to win a division title.

Joe’s not seeing any commonality there when it comes to playing close games. All those teams returned the same head coaches the following season. Also, those winning teams in ’05, ’07 and ’10 experienced significant quarterback changes, as will the Bucs this year.

Last season, the wretched 2-14 Bucs dropped eight games by seven points or less, plus one by eight points to Chicago. Lovie Smith and Jason Licht publicly have acknowledged a shred of comfort in knowing their team was so close in so many games.

Joe has maintained that close games are meaningless when it comes to predicting future success. Losing is losing, and collective losing has no silver lining. Frankly, losing a lot of close games usually means some combination of bad coaching, shoddy quarterback play and a defense failing to make splash plays.

Look at Lovie Smith’s first Bears team in Chicago. That ugly 2004 club lost 11 games but only three by less than seven points. A year later, Lovie had the Bears at 11-5 and in the playoffs.

Andy Reid took over the Chiefs in 2013, following a two-win season, one in which the Chiefs only had three one-score losses. Reid cranked out 11 wins immediately with Alex Smith at quarterback.

Joe sincerely hopes the we-lost-a-lot-of-close-games chatter ends. It’s wasted breath.

21 Responses to “Making Sense Of The Close-Games Theory”

  1. Ray Rice Says:

    Losing is losing period. Unless you get your a$$ anihialated on national television. Payback is a MF. #KOETTER/THEMESSIAH

  2. pick6 Says:

    the bucs lost a boatload of close games in schiano’s 1st year while going 7-9. in 2013, we proceeded to lose a boatlod of additional close games and go 4-12

  3. Dick2111 Says:

    The present-day NFL is a league of parity … virtually all 32 teams are good. There is no ‘easy schedule’, although one team’s schedule may be ‘easier’ than some others.

    Close games are a reality in today’s NFL. Winning teams win more close games than they lose. Losing teams … not so much. It’s not rocket science.

    And for the record Joe, I agree with you that the QB makes all the difference when it comes to winning close games. Having a shutdown defense doesn’t hurt either.

    Hopefully our Bucs are on the verge of having both.

  4. WS99 Says:

    Also, those winning teams in ’05, ’07 and ’10 experienced significant quarterback changes, as will the Bucs this year.
    Watching a doc on Rodger stuabach last night on nfln. The one big take away was his come from behind wins. Maybe it does have more to do with the qb than the coaching. And there no one better at coming from behind (alledgely) than jaboowins.

  5. Phil Says:

    The only good thing to come from losing last year was Jameis. Now if we can get a head coach next year maybe we will be on the right track.

  6. Buc1987 Says:

    Yes and didn’t Schiano lose a lot of close games during his first season when they went 7-9? I think so because I’m pretty sure that’s why I bought my first ever season tickets in 2013. That and signing Revis and Goldson, but Goldson was pretty much rendered useless because of the NFL cracking down on big hits.

    I still had a helluva lot of fun at those games though.

  7. Buc1987 Says:

    pick6 …sorry I missed your post.

  8. HarriMags1 Says:

    LVD getting love on as 5th best tackler in the league. Good read if you have the time.

  9. Mike10 Says:

    Amen Joe!

    All that says on paper is that on certain Sundays we were a little bit worse that day. And although probably nearly all of our wins in the past 5+ years have been with in 7pts, I believe we’ve been worse than the other team more than 30% of Sundays (30-70 over past 100)

  10. Owlykat Says:

    A number of the close losses the last two years were due to Glennon blowing leads and not being able to bring his team back, with the exception of one game last year. Winston would have won a lot of those same games.

  11. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    Thanks, Joe’s, for this article. There are a lot of reasons to be excited for this season. The close losses last year are not one of them.

  12. Hawk Says:

    Joe(s); People keep saying, “We lost eight games by seven (or fewer) points! We were THIS close (holding thumb and first finger very close) to winning those games and being in playoff contention”.
    Truth be told, you can just as easily say, “We were THIS close (fingers again) to losing those games by MORE than seven points if the game had not ended when it did. 2-14 is not a fluke, it is an indictment.

  13. Bill Says:

    Tired of your website dropping and being directed to other sites. I’m deleting your app.

  14. Joe Says:

    Man, i love checking out JBF. Great stories, sometimes better comments. All u guys are great reads. TBBF, BFFL, BUC1987, NOS-BOS. My bad forgot the rest right now but…
    sh!T this is the time for dreaming big as a fan. Why not? I don’t post much, I’m going in now though. Anyway love u guys man, lol, no homo
    YO JOE!
    GO BUCS!!!

    Thank you, Buc4lyfe!

  15. Joe Says:

    Tired of your website dropping and being directed to other sites. I’m deleting your app.

    Joe doesn’t have an app.

  16. ptwalk Says:

    Maybe it’s just me but losing close games without a real O coordinator says something to me. And I’m excited about the addition of Koetter.

  17. Buc-A-New Says:

    One thing that sux about being in Mountain time is that by the time I get home most of you guys are gone. Oh well. We all have to make sacrifices sometimes. Bucs games come on here at 11am so that’s a plus! 🙂

  18. cover deuce Says:

    Last season Lovie just wouldn’t quit smugly reminding us that, “We’re a four win team.” He doesn’t have someone else’s record to dangle as an excuse this year, so now it’s, “Sure the record wasn’t good, but boy did we lose a lot of close games!” He’s a used car salesman, and a bad one at that.

  19. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    Many NFL games come down to making a play. Hang on to the game sealing int, refrain from stupid penalties, don’t fumble etc.

    But it’s no accident who makes those plays. The winners make them the losers do not.

    Sometimes you simply get beat when a better athlete simply outplays you. Other times you LOSE…or beat yourself. I saw the Bucs do that enough last year that I do believe…10-6 this year if the Bucs can simply install a “winners mentality”.

  20. Buc1987 Says:

    Well thank you bucs4lyfe. Good to see I still have some fans left.

    Go Bucs!

  21. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    What 87 just said Buc4lyfe. It’s “SkullGang” time,always Red banner1ball2blades…