CBS writer offers better look at Jared Goff as a 'clutch' quarterback

In trying to define a "clutch" quarterback, a CBS writer has offered a better window into why Jared Goff fits the bill and where he ranks among his peers.

One of the questions we attempt to define in sports is "What makes a player "clutch"? On the surface it's easy. It's someone who comes through when it matters most, in important situations with some tilt toward big games.

But the granular level of anointing someone as "clutch" or not can be more nuanced, and inherently subjective. Football analyst Carter Donnick, using Sports Info Solutions data, recently created a "clutch score" for NFL quarterbacks from last season with the following as the core tenets to a formula he didn't fully reveal.

  • Third and fourth downs in games where the score is within 14 points
  • Any down in the fourth quarter when the score was within 10 points

Lions quarterback Jared Goff came in No. 2 in Donnick's "clutch score". Exactly how clutch Goff was last year, with above core factors, feels a little flimsy though. Which isn't to say the Lions' signal caller isn't "clutch", since he was top-10 in the league in fourth quarter passer rating, third quarter passer rating, fourth quarter completion percentage and third down touchdown passes last season.

There just has to be a better way to try to reveal how "clutch" a quarterback is.

CBS lands on better way to determine how clutch Jared Goff is

Douglas Clawson of CBS Sports has ranked the 10 most clutch quarterbacks in the NFL, whittling down the list of initial candidates to the 26 current starting quarterbacks with experience-eliminating rookies, and others like Anthony Richardson with too small of a sample to work with.

Clawson explained how he sorted the ranking, using two bullet points of emphasis with a general explanation.

  • Quarterback conversion rate on game-tying or go-ahead drives in the fourth quarter and overtime
  • Expected points added (EPA) per play in these situations (looks at value added on all plays between rushes, passes, sacks and fumbles)

"Essentially, how often does a quarterback lead his team down the field successfully in do-or-die situations, and how does he perform on those drives? I broke those numbers down between a quarterback's career in the regular season, career in the playoffs, and 2023 performance. All of these were evenly weighted and used to churn out this top 10 list of the most clutch quarterbacks in the NFL."

With a wider scope than just last season using his numbers, Clawson had Goff at No. 5 in his "clutch quarterback" ranking.

"Jared Goff has more clutch moments in 2023 than you probably remember. He ranked third in game-tying/go-ahead drive conversion rate in the fourth quarter and overtime last year (6-of-10, 60 percent), and third in EPA per play in those situations.....

"It's not all sunshine and rainbows, though. He was 3 of 13 passing when pressured in the NFC Championship loss vs. the 49ers, where Detroit blew a 17-point halftime lead. His struggles vs. pressure (20th in EPA per play when pressured in 2023) limit his upside in the clutch, to an extent."

Performance in game-tying or go-ahead situations late in games (drives, as it pertains to an NFL quarterback) is a core principal of being clutch or not. Clawson did show the other side of the coin with Goff, leaning into the drop-off he has when he is pressured.

But here we have a different, and what feels like a more solid, look at how "clutch" Goff is.


Next. 3 Detroit Lions who could easily lose snaps to a rookie this year. 3 Detroit Lions who could easily lose snaps to a rookie this year. dark