Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Jan 2008

Who Is This Guy?

Wright Thompson does his best to profile Ernie Adams, the unknown commodity in the New England Patriots braintrust. He's referred to as the NFL's equivalent to James Bond's "Q," "Belichick's Belichick," and "asocial." Nobody's quite sure precisely what his job entails -- including the players -- but he's helped build the framework for one of the greatest teams of all time. Teachers, friends, coworkers and classmates share their insight on Adams, but he remains such an enigma that Thompson closes his column by simply asking Adams to contact him.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 31 Jan 2008

22 comments, Last at 02 Feb 2008, 9:48am by coyotl666


by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 6:09pm

Nice find, Vince!

by Kneel Before Zod! (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 6:19pm

Credit where due , I read this because blair wendel pointed to it in the quote thread.
Guy seems a little bit rain man ( ernie not blair).

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 6:35pm

Is this enough to collect on Modell's "$10,000 for anybody who can tell me what exactly Ernie Adams does" PK mentioned in MMQB a while back? Also, did Modell employ Adams when Belichick was his coach? That's not clear to me from the article one way or the other.

by cjfarls (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 6:37pm

With the quote about him calculating stats & percentages up in the booth... anyone else think perhaps he may be a one-man version of the FO team? Play scouting like Mike, stats like Aaron, etc... just a guess....

Cool article.

by Joe T. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 7:00pm


by cabbage (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 8:26pm

Massie's book on Peter the Great is fantastic. One of my favorites.

by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 8:53pm

Nice piece.

Cjfarls, if this article is any kind of indication of the man, you can bet he's taken the FO stats to pieces anyway. If there's anything useful (and I'm betting there is *wink*) Belichick will have it. I wouldn't be at all suprised if some of the bespoke stuff Aaron and the guys do for franchises was commissioned by this guy.

Say what you will about New England, but if there's any way to improve what they do, they'll do it.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 9:47pm

Really, really liked this article. One of the better bits of journalism I've seen, and I wasn't really expecting anything too interesting during Super Bowl Week.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 9:58pm

3: Ernie Adams was on Modell's payroll when he offered the 10K to find out what the guy did, and it was when Bellichick was the head coach of Cleveland.

by kleph (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 11:46pm

oh how it pains me to know that ray perkins is responsible for all of this.

by Athelas (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 11:59pm

Did you notice the bit about teams punting too often on 4th down?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:02am

Fascinating article. It reminds me that Belichik also had a friendship with the reclusive Joel Buschbaum of Pro Football Weekly, who was also an obsessive about football.

by chip (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 1:13am

why would the Pats compartmentalize as mentioned in the article? Seems to be anti-synergistic - takes away the learning process from the scouts, input from the coaches, on drafting, etc.

by Tom D (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 2:08am

Re 13:

My guess is that is removes preconceptions. The scouts don't develop their own opinions on current players, so they scout fairly. For instance maybe one scout takes a real liking to
Deon Branch, and subconsciously downgrades wide receivers who don't play like he does. Well, that's my guess.

It seems that it's working, however strange it may seem.

by seth (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 2:17am

re 11-
yes, the study on punting on 4th down was written by a Cal economist named david romer around 2002. there's also an interesting article on the web by greg garber,who asked coaches to respond to the findings. belichick commented extensively-it's good stuff and worth looking up.

by hwc (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 2:42am

One of the great quotes from "Patriot Reign" is Belichick putting his arm around Ernie Adams after the Super Bowl win over the St. Louis Rams and saying, "Can you believe we just won the SuperBowl with THIS team?"

I think Adams does a lot of statistical stuff, not only scouting opponents, but self-scouting the Patriots tendencies. I also strongly suspect the biggest part of his job description is identifying big picture conceptual trends in the pro game. Where is the game headed over the next five to ten years?

by Carlos (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 3:09am

Adams looks ... like an investment banker

Dood. That photo is from 2005. Adams might look like a freemason, or a high school chemistry teacher or tow truck driver from Pittsburgh on his way to his daughter's wedding, but the absolute last thing he looks like is an investment banker.

If you're a sports writer, stick to writing about sports.

by Matt (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 7:33am

Garber article link in my name.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 11:51am

If Adams is so smart, why didn't he go to Modell and explain what he did? That's $10,000 in free money he let go by.

by daddymag (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 1:11pm

Anyone else think, maybe the reason the Patriots are successful is that they're run by "insiders" who are more like "Football Outsiders" than "insiders", and that's what makes them so smart? Not to kiss ass or anything.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 1:17pm

#19 - I dunno. Given his wealth, I'd say $10,000 is a pretty good price to see Art Modell squirm.

by coyotl666 (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 9:48am

funnily enough, when some of y'alls' favourite whipping boy, the tastily named gregg, reviewed this fourth down study quite some time ago, it better suited some to dismiss his lack of knowledge on whatever was his non-football segments of the week. just saying.

cheers, mark