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Risky Business: Week 1

Amari Cooper
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

A weekly column from our partners at EdjSports about important coaching decisions points out that making the right choice according to analytics doesn't always work out in the end. Just ask the Rams and Cowboys about last night's game.

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5 comments, Last at 15 Sep 2020, 11:59am

1 Intuition.

Analytics is only a tool.  Those of us who work in the Mental Health field know this.  Empirical evidence in and of itself doesn't do anything but inform you of how to practice, whether you're a Psychologist or Bettor.

McCarthy is too conservative generally, which is why he was fired in Green Bay.  In those handful of plays he needed to be aggressive, he was conservative.  That is what he is.  

The Rams won the game as much as McCarthy lost it by staying true to their edict.

If the Rams had lost that game, it would have told me more about them than the Cowboys.  

2 Yes, analytics is only a…

In reply to by DIVISION

Yes, analytics is only a tool. Empirical evidence is better... but analytics is the source of the only actual evidence we have.

McCarthy ranked highly in Aggressiveness Index on 4th, in tendency to pass more than run both overall and while ahead, and aggressiveness in playcalling in recent seasons. He was "conservative" in some ways not adding very many changes to the scheme, but I think that is overblown. McCarthy was booted because he lost the confidence of the QB and management, while being handed 0 weapons with which to work.

4 McCarthy...

....for me is just another version of Jason Garrett.  I don't see any difference.  I also predict he will suffer the same fate in a few years.  JJ doesn't want someone who will garner more attention than himself.

 Cowboys fans are trapped in a dead-end marriage going nowhere...

3 but probability

problem is that evaluating analytics against a binary set of outcomes is in itself flawed.  you can hit on a hard 18 and get a 3, does that make the decision good?  of course not, because you were very likely to lose.  how is this so hard to understand? 

edit: my bad, that seems to be precisely the premise of the article. serves me right for headline reading.

5 "over the course of a long…

"over the course of a long season this type of decision can accumulate to make or break playoff prospects"

"can", yes, "will", not so certain.  NFL season's are extremely short.  The cumulative effect of good or bad in game management decisions might never show up in a statistically meaningful way, even over multiple years.

Compared to other coaching duties - pre-game preparation and in game playcalling - this aspect of coaching is, I suspect, of little consequence to a coach's overall effectiveness.  It's easy to get caught up in "too conservative", "too aggressive" - hey, this is a stats site, it's what we love! - but I often think that's just a stick to beat the coach with for failures in their other, more impactful coaching duties.  Maybe poor decision-making here is indicative of poor decision-making in other, less easily observed areas, but that'd be speculative and difficult to confirm.