The NFL is a highly competitive and complex game. Teams are constantly seeking an edge over their opponents in order to win games and reach the Super Bowl. One of the ways that teams are gaining an advantage is through the use of analytics.
Analytics involves the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data in order to make informed decisions. In the NFL, this data can come from a variety of sources, including player statistics, game film, and player tracking technology. By analyzing this data, teams can gain a deeper understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of their opponents.
The Benefits of Analytics in the NFL
Analytics can provide teams with a more comprehensive view of a player’s abilities and limitations. This can help teams to make more informed decisions when it comes to player scouting, drafting, and roster construction. For example, the Cleveland Browns used analytics to identify quarterback Baker Mayfield as a strong prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Browns analytics team analyzed Mayfield’s college statistics and game film to determine that he had the arm talent, accuracy, and leadership qualities necessary to succeed in the NFL. Clearly in the long run this did not pan out for the Browns but they are still the leaders in the clubhouse when it comes to the use of analytics.
Another way teams can use analytics is to gain a deeper understanding of their opponents tendencies and strategies. This information can be used to develop game plans that take into account the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing team. The New England Patriots, for instance, are known for their meticulous game preparation. They are the best at this in the modern game today but do they use analytics in that process? Head Coach Bill Belichick has spoken out in the past about the use of analytics and that he prefers the old school approach. However the Patriots are known to use analytics in their scouting department when it comes to the draft and seem to be warming up to the trend.
By using analytics to identify areas for improvement, teams can more effectively allocate resources and make changes to their operations. This can lead to increased efficiency and a better overall performance. The Dallas Cowboys, use analytics to optimize their practice schedule and reduce the risk of player injury. By analyzing player workload and injury data, the Cowboys were able to make changes to their practice schedule that reduced the number of soft-tissue injuries suffered by players.
The world of NFL analytics is constantly evolving and teams should make use of the latest technology. Player tracking systems to collect data and gain a deeper understanding of the game have become commonplace. This data can be used to inform decisions and improve performance on the field. Most teams by now use the Zebra Sports player tracking system to collect data on player speed, acceleration, and other metrics. This information is used to inform game planning and player development decisions.
How Teams Can Use Analytics to Reach the Super Bowl
Analytics can provide teams with the information they need to make informed decisions on and off the field. This can range from player personnel decisions to play calling during games. The Los Angeles Rams used analytics to inform their play-calling during their Super Bowl run in 2018. The Rams analytics team along with the coaches identify the most effective plays and formations to use in different game situations. Head Coach Sean McVay admitted that analytics play an important role but to know the flow of the game and when to push buttons is just as important.
When it comes to the Kansas City Chiefs they also use analytics to inform their play-calling and game strategy. Like McVay, head coach Andy Reid still believes in the human element of the game and he has the ability to make the final call on the play in any situation. Still though these two teams have arguably been the most successful NFL teams recently and the fact that they embrace analytics is no surprise.
By now almost every NFL team has an analytics department in charge of using many data points to guide their football decisions. With the use of technology, analytics can be a very powerful tool to help propel teams to the Super Bowl. Those that fully accept analytics will have the upper hand on gameday and beyond.