Facts (or the lack thereof) mean very little to people caught up in storylines. The best way to teach true understanding is not by teaching students facts (although that is still a valuable lesson); it is to teach them to analyze, as one does with elements of narrative.
That was Ashley Lamb-Sinclair in a powerful piece in the Atlantic that looked at the decreasing value of facts in the market when compared to narrative.
In that article, she talks about the value of facts, of information pushed up against narrative. Stories. And the power of story as a conduit for us to learn. Heading into the 2019 season, there’s a narrative I’ve seen often. And it’s butting up against fact.
It suggests that Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff played horribly in Super Bowl LIII. That he was the pilot of the plane with a course charted by Head Coach Sean McVay that was derailed by the brilliant defensive structure overseen and remade throughout the game by New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. That the Rams, young and new and upward, were stalled out by the long-worn Patriots who were somehow ready for the new despite decades of experience.
That Goff was simply overwhelmed.
It’s one thing for McVay to come up with new concepts and plays; it’s another for Goff to execute them. Goff’s failure to spot and then to deliver an accurate throw to a wide-ass open Brandin Cooks in Super Bowl LIII should haunt Goff and McVay, and it should raise questions as to whether, when confronted with a championship opportunity, Goff will be suited to seize it.
Think about what Florio is suggesting, because it represents a large portion of the populace looking at the 2019 season. A single throw from Jared Goff, one pass from a season of 561 passes throughout the regular season and 106 passes in the postseason deserves to be distilled to a single through in the Super Bowl.
Think about that.
It’s not entirely unwarranted. The idea that you can take a whole season, an entire work of 19 games and 667 throws and reduce it down to a single play is possible. It’s crazy, but it is!
The problem is that doing that for Goff in that single play is inaccurate. But of course it is.
Jared Goff passed for 4,688 yards last season. That’s the 40th-highest passing yard total in a single season of all time.
If somehow you’ve missed it, this is the 100th season in NFL history. Even if there were just one team every year, finishing 40th would be commendable. I sadly might shock you to note that there have been more than one team in the NFL in the 100 years of its existence! In fact, there have been several!
Jared Goff put in the 40th-best season in the history of the NFL in terms of passing yards, passing for 4,688 yards. That has nothing to do with the 1994 season from Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman in which he 2,676 yards, a season in which the Cowboys went 12-4 and disappointingly lost the NFC Conference Championship in a four-year stretch in which they won the other three Super Bowls.
Jared Goff put in the 40th-best season in the history of the NFL in terms of passing yards, passing for 4,688 yards. That has nothing to do with the 2018 season from Patriots QB Tom Brady in which he threw for 4,355 yards, a season in which the Patriots went 11-5 and won Super Bowl LIII.
Seasons are long.
Games are short.
Moments are shorter.
The Rams lost Super Bowl LIII to the Patriots. That wasn’t entirely, though it was partially (and perhaps largely) due to the performance of Jared Goff.
The Patriots won Super Bowl LIII over the Rams. That wasn’t entirely, though it was largely (and perhaps entirely) due to the performance of Brady.
Jared Goff finished the Super Bowl 19/38 for 229 yards with 0 TDs and 1 interception.
Tom Brady finished the Super Bowl 21/35 for 262 yards with 0 TDs and 1 interception.
What are we doing here?
What value are we providing to a narrative that’s hailing a quarterback as the greatest of all time for two more receptions in three less passes for 33 more yards?
We know there’s more context. Much, much, much, much, much, much, much (I could keep going), much, much, much, much, much (I should keep going), much, much, much, much, much (I’ll stop) more context.
Go back and watch Brady’s missed throws in Super Bowl LIII.
All of those were missed throws from Brady. Which is being categorized as a “failure to spot and then to deliver an accurate throw to a wide-ass open” Patriot? Which of those should haunt [Brady] and [Belichick] and should “raise questions as to whether, when confronted with a championship opportunity, [Brady] will be suited to seize it?”
Football is a sport of small sample sizes. As such, it invites the availability for narrative misanalysis based on distilling the larger sample size down to a single game.
A single drive.
A single throw.
For many, Jared Goff is being derided for being a system quarterback, a function of the talent around him and the coach he has overseeing the environment he operates in. For some, he’s being castigated because of a single play in Super Bowl LIII.
But for me, he’s on a trajectory to become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Someone who can deal with the public and media-laden pressures while ensuring he leads his team through the ridiculous roller coaster of the NFL season and come out on the other side looking better individually while also looking capable of taking his team to the ultimate symbol of success.
Tom Brady missed several throws six months ago. He remains Tom Brady.
Jared Goff missed several throws six months ago. He remains Jared Goff.
The only thing that remains unfair is that Goff’s narrative revolves around the throw/s he missed in the Super Bowl while Brady’s is able to sweep those under the rug.
Brady’s earned as much through his fantastic career.
But Goff shouldn’t be disabused of as much through his early career.
That might escape Florio.
It shouldn’t escape the rest of us.