Sean Payton Compared Football Analytics To Blackjack So I'm Pretty Sure He's Just Not An Analytics Guy
TheAdvocate- “Much like if we’re educated and go into a casino, and we want to have our best chance of winning we got to understand some basic fundamental rules of blackjack,” Payton said. “On 16, I’ve got to take a hit. So, we don’t want to be playing a game where we’re just flying by the seat of our pants.”
As Payton said, no matter how good the math is, it’s impossible for a set of numbers to process everything that is happening on the field. That’s why he tosses it aside in these situations.
“I’m not looking at it when to decide when to go for it on fourth down because the flaw and the challenge in analytics (is that it) doesn’t account for what if your left tackle is getting his (butt) kicked by the defensive end,” Payton said. “There’s nowhere in there that factors that in, and yet it’s very powerful.”
“Second-and-10 needs to mean something based on an analytical study,” Payton said. “It needs to mean that something to me if it’s us that’s second-and-10, and they’re thinking screen draw. Or it needs to mean something if it’s the opponent who is second-and-10. There needs to be some analysis that at least gives us — we can’t defend it all every play. The idea of it is to narrow down the field.”
Hmm, not sure I follow considering even the most educated of gamblers usually lose money, and coaching football is predicated upon being right more often than not, but I'll dig a little deeper. I don't want to over-analyze Sean Payton's analysis of analytics, but I am thinking he kind of views them the same way I view eating healthy. I try to eat right, but I am not going to count calories or do any research, and sometimes I am just going to follow my heart (i.e. stomach) and shove half a meat lover's pizza down my gullet. That sounds relatively similar to Sean Payton's philosophy of doing what he thinks is statistically correct, but not breaking the odds down to a percentage point, and occasionally just following his instincts and doing something that doesn't really make any numerical sense at all.
Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of that style of coaching. I think the best coaches are the ones that understand their team dynamic and have a feel for the game instead of trying to manage every detail from a spreadsheet, just like the most fun people to be around know when it's a good time to ignore the nutritional content of their dinner. I can say I'm a healthy person all I want, but there might be a week or two where that claim is completely unsubstantiated, the same way Sean Payton can say he pays attention to analytics, but sometimes he's going to onsides kick to start the second half of the Super Bowl and make that claim look comical. Hey, what can you say, analytics - much like my diet - doesn't account for certain things. Maybe the defense is having a bad day and you can't afford to punt, or maybe I'm 6 beers deep at the bar and a waitress ventures too close with someone else's BBQ bacon burger. You just can't evaluate intuition. Sometimes you just have to look at the play sheet on 4th and 9 like it's a Chinese food menu on a Sunday night and say "fuck it, why the hell not?". After all, that's what Kenny Rogers would do, and as far as I can tell Sean Payton didn't fall too far from his coaching tree...