25 Mar 2010
Here's the video of the controversial main panel, "What Geeks Don't Get: Limits of Moneyball," from the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Michael Lewis runs the show, with Bill Simmons, Daryl Morey, Mark Cuban, Bill Polian, and Jonathan Kraft. I came away from this panel angry that Polian and Kraft were so dismissive of the idea of outside analytics. (They basically say that coaches already figure out everything, and that all the variables on each play make play-by-play analysis impossible.)
The most annoying part, for me, is when Polian basically says "there's nobody doing analysis worth listening to." This is about an hour after his son had personally told me that everyone in the Colts front office reads FO and they generally feel we're on the right track. So I was a bit pissed off.
Now you can watch it yourself and all the FO readers can discuss the panel. I would say to watch it all because the basketball stuff is interesting and Simmons and Cuban are funny. If you want to specifically watch football, here are some notes:
Jonathan Kraft's initial comments begin around 8:40. A sample: "Because the salary cap rules and data aren't known by the public, you might get annoyed when you see people trying to do analysis with only half of the picture."
Bill Polian begins around 11:00. Some sample comments:
Around 14:00: "The other part of it is game management and tactics, and there's zero out there that I've found that's any good.
Around 29:00: "There's nobody out there working on quantifying all that goes on, 22 guys, 60 times a game."
Around 42:00, referencing Belichick's fourth-and-2 decision: "All the statistical analysis that's done over the course of a season or seasons means nothing."
Polian seems to constantly argue that stats people are useless because they think they know everything and they don't consider the importance of variables like scheme and matchups. But seriously, do any of us out here argue that we know everything? We don't, Joyner doesn't, Burke doesn't. Is it possible to read Football Outsiders for a couple weeks and not read a bunch of comments about scheme and matchups? I take pride in the fact that Football Outsiders leads the league in couching our opinions in caveats.
Also, make sure to check out Polian's extremely simplified (to the point of being wrong) explanation of Cover-2 at 35:00. Bill, we know that you know the difference between Cover-2 and 2-Man Under. You have to trust that the people in the audience are smart enough to understand the difference between Cover-2 and 2-Man Under. Maybe Matt Millen may not be, but these people are.
94 comments, Last at 31 Mar 2010, 3:28pm by Jeff Fogle
Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?