Can Statistics Improve NFL Teams?

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From baseball to NFL, more teams are hiring statisticians to find talents and improve the performance of the team. Some teams like the Baltimore Ravens even hired a director of football analytics for statistical analysis of the games, draft and free-agency preparation (even injury rehabilitation).

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(Scene from the motion picture Moneyball)

“The culture has changed exponentially in the last 12 months,” said John Pollard, a general manager for Stats L.L.C. for the New York Times. “Last year was a jog. Now we’re at a really good trot. This January, I think we’ll be at a sprint with the mass adoption of tons of information services.”

Interestingly enough, the quest for more competitive knowledge led to the introduction of several companies who now study games to produce unique statistical analysis, including Football Outsiders, Advanced NFL Stats, Stats L.L.C. and ESPN. But, that statistical knowledge is kept hidden from others, as teams don’t like to give their analysis because of fear that they will give away a competitive advantage.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are also using data to monitor injuries and recovery, hoping to tailor players’ practice regimens to keep them healthier longer, but also another potential boon when contracts are negotiated, writes the NYT. But at this point in time, there is no a formula that guarantees a success.

“I agree with Ray Lewis (Superstar Linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens). He and I discussed issues of this nature and others at a meeting in New York. It is the intangibles that matter the most. This topic reminds me so much of the fabulous movie Moneyball. To a large degree it was Brad Pitt’s way of using the players’ intangibles to get them to win 20 in a row.”, explains Dr. Armin Tehrany.