Hello Barry Switzer
The mad scientists at End Game Technologies have come up with a computer model, ZEUS, that can correctly pick the next play to run. Using data from NFL game logs and the current situation, the computer can run a million game simulations and tell the coach which play he should call next that will result in the highest game winning opportunity.
Here’s an example:
Coaches often lose sight of this goal by focusing on points rather than the statistical expectation of winning. Points certainly matter in an NFL game, but not all points have the same value.
Consider a team trailing by 2 points on the last play of the game at their opponents 2 yard line: the extra 4 points that come with a touchdown in lieu of a field goal have no value whatsoever. The field goal is the optimal GWC choice. In this simple example, if the team went for the TD and succeeded they would still be charged with a large blunder even though it didn’t affect the outcome of the game. This is because the chosen play will lose on average. ZEUS focuses on the methodology of optimal play-calling not the short term results.
They are quick to stress that ZEUS is intended to be a coaches aide and not a replacement. Considering the salaries that coaches make, you can believe that these units won’t ever make it into team headquarters. However, we see a future where every football analyst has one of these bad boys and plugs in the data for critical decision and god help the coach that makes the wrong call. Basically, everytime your boneheaded coach makes a dumb call, you’ll know about it.
This article on this site about onsides kicks supports what we’ve been saying for years: the onsides kick is severely underutilized. This is purely our own thinking… Let’s say your team has just scored and needs the ball back with 1:59 to go. You have two time-outs left. If you kick off and stop them at the 20 yard line, so what? If they get a first down, you’re done. Now, let’s say you onside kick. If you recover, well, great. (ZEUS says there’s a 25% recovery chance.) If not, the opposing team has the ball at, say, your 45 yard line. If they get a first down, you’re done. So what’s the difference between your defense having to stop them on your 45 or their 20? Sure, you have less field to goal if you force them to punt from their 20, but the biggest factor in this situation isn’t the field position, it’s possession. Why not give yourself the extra 25% chance of getting the ball back right away?
Back to ZEUS…
The company states that over a course of the season, callign the correct PAT and 4th down play can result in an increase between .6 and 1.25 wins . They also claim that ZEUS can help make decisions regarding the GWC (game winning chances) of the #1 ranked kicker vs the #32 ranked kicker. So no more terrible contracts and overvaluing of players by GMs.
Of course, if any of this comes to pass, football won’t nearly be as fun to watch. If we can’t second guess and curse at the coaches, who are we going to blame for our team losing again? Oh yeah, the refs.
(Story via Fark.com)
[Science Daily]: New Computer Model Of Football Can Help NFL Coaches Call The Next Play, Evaluate Playe