OK, first, some transparency (and since I am the parent of a trans person, I have a legit stake in my trans-parenting. Badum, tsss!). I had qualms about this piece, because it was focused on the D, and in many ways overlapped Tony’s post about the Defense. Fortunately, Tony also provided the solution: expand my range to cover the Offense, too. So tip o’ the pin to Tony (and did you see what I did here, too? *snerk*), but onward.
So, you want to be a prophet? Sucker. But go ahead and foretell, if you make a wild claim that comes true, the payoff’s big. Gotta love those gut feeling calls. Being an oracle’s a bit safer, since those folks were expected to be confusing and mysterious. Trouble with that is an oracle’s prediction success rate is utterly worse than a prophet’s, since an oracle’s meaning is never clear until after the dust has settled. Prophets occasionally call specific results, in plain language, and in advance.
But we are in the modern era, so instead of either of those, we substitute statistics and “common sense” to give us a comforting feel to predicting things. It isn’t really scientific, but with enough numbers, it can feel that way. And you even get lucky, on occasion, but if you aren’t looking at the bigger picture, it’s just luck.
So, if all of the above is about as accurate as gutting a sheep and examining its innards, how can you get better at making predictions? First and foremost, you have to be able to honestly consider contrary data. That’s hard to do, because I know from experience how hard you can latch onto a notion, so hard that inconvenient facts are easily dismissed.
So, that asks the question of how did the D let the O down, last game – but the inconvenient fact is that the O also let the D down, and the best example of that is San Angeles’ last two drives of the first half, not counting the kneel-down. If you look, you see that after a 6-minute drive, the O ran game clock for a minute-forty, then punted. With little rest, the D took the field again, and this time, got a stop, though the 7:16 in game time was a high price to pay. And while the O didn’t have a lot of time available, once again they failed to score, and we went into the half only one score up. The halftime break doesn’t erase that fatigue.
But with Berry playing, in the 1st half, the D was noticeably better. And I suppose you clever devils have figured out where this is going: Predictions of how the D will perform without Berry don’t count all that much for forecasting games where Berry will play. It isn’t a given that he won’t, after all – no moreso than if Triplett hadn’t fucked up the call was it a given that Kelce would inevitably go out with a concussion anyway, in spite of that change. Yeah, no. Change that call, and Kelce’s odds of going down are not affected by the previous and now-altered outcome.
So, I have rambled, but now to the bottom line: Predicting the Berry-led D’s future, based on the Berry-less track record is problematic. Berry playing changes the whole evaluation. Not to mention that getting some starters back on the O side of things will probably help the D out, by sustaining drives and getting them some rest.
In short, the D’s had issues to this point, but it seems pretty clear that the initial intent was to having Berry running things on the field. Since he was so key to the plan, losing him – and to limbo, no less, rather than IR – for most of the season the D struggled. And if Berry was on IR, such forecasts would be fine. But….
Thing is, Berry IS playing now, and I see no particular reason to predict that will stop. Could it stop? Absolutely. Football’s a game that comes with the possibility of injuries, and any player can be injured on any play. But there’s nothing to indicate that EB29 can’t hold the course – and while Haglund’s Deformity is clearly painful, so is chemotherapy. I know, indirectly, because I held Mrs’ BRAG’s hand through hers, through her breast cancer, and it was bad. And unlike Berry, she had a port, for faster dilution. As hard as she had it, Berry opted for worse. So he could play again, as soon as possible.
So there you go. If you had based this season’s performance by the O on Smith’s last season*, you’d obviously fall short, because Mahomes changed the equation. Eric Berry does the same thing with the D. Ignore those particular facts, as well as the fact that the play on one side can affect the performance of the other, and you’re simply rolling the dice and hoping.
As for me, I’m predicting that the D will improve with Berry out there. The first half of one game is a ridiculously small sample size, but it’s what we have – and Berry has a long track record of being football-smart.
As the Falcons learned, when they tried to go for 2 with Berry on the field. That’s ample secondary support, in my book. Predicting doom and gloom is easy, easy as its opposite, homerism. (That’s a technical term now, BTW and you’re welcome. 😉 ) The thing to be aware of is primarily game-changers like Berry, and after that you must avoid over-isolating the units. And underneath all that, you have to be honest with yourself.
I’m capable of getting emotional and stupid when it comes to predictions. Anyone who knows my track record over at Another Place knows that. But I’m also capable of doing some extrapolation to a useful result, and I know good and well that while I can predict that Berry (and Erving and LDT) playing will help the D, duh, I can’t really predict how much. And while it’s bragging to say it, if I know I can’t predict it, neither can you. And guessing isn’t predicting.
I predicted that those ribs would have a good bark, BTW. I didn’t, and perhaps couldn’t predict that they would have one that good. But that’s what a realistic take on your predictions buys you. 😉
Edited to correct spelling and to add: *Lest anyone think I’m too far up my own ass when it comes to predicting things, I’m well aware that I fell short on predicting this season’s wins, having predicted 9 – 7 and maybe a playoff berth. Where’d I go wrong? I followed conventional wisdom, basing the 2:15PM-led offense’s prediction on, you guessed it, Smith’s last year and the development time starting QBs require, historically speaking. Where I fell short was understanding that Patrick’s mind is about as amazing as his arm, so he was able to learn a boatload from Smith, moving his development up considerably. Reid wasn’t kidding when he said that Mahomes owes Smith a huge debt, for all the mentoring. I’d missed a game-changing item when I made that prediction. Berry? He’s another game-changer, IMO, which is gonna limit the accuracy of forecasting the D’s performance. All I can say with confidence is that he’s gonna improve things. How much? Who knows? (I can predict with confidence that keeping the food porn coming will continue to give me a bit of cover, though. 😉 )