What The Heck Is Football Analytics?

6:16 AM, Jan 3, 2013   |    comments
  • Bills President/CEO Russ Brandon
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BUFFALO, N.Y. - What the heck is football analytics?

Russ Brandon, in his first news conference as the Bills president, said the team was going to establish a "very robust football analytics operation" throughout every aspect of the Bills organization.

Although the term Brandon used, football analytics, is probably something not many of us have heard before, at its core it's not all that complicated.

Just imagine that you're playing blackjack, you have 16 and the dealer is showing an eight - do you stay or take another card?

Well the odds, or analytics, based on millions of simulations tell you to take a card.

Brandon's push for using statistical analysis is new school. GM Buddy Nix at 73 years old, is by his own admission old school.

Here's what Nix said when asked how familiar he was with football analytics.

"Not very, but I am going to get familiar. It'll be something I have to get used to because I go a lot on feel and what I see," said Nix.

Going on "feel" and gut instincts is exactly the opposite of what statistical analysis is all about.

Teams like the Patriots have been using analytics for a while now.

It's used on everything from:

* Whether a coach should go for it on fourth down,

* Scouting players using their body types to predict future success,

* Negotiating contracts

Believe it or not, there are even conferences on football analytics.

There was one a few months ago at M.I.T. that had the San Francisco 49ers statistical guru, on it.

Just listen to how the Niners use analytics when negotiating a long term contract with a player.

"We try to figure out the player's trajectory given his age, the position he plays, his performance trajectory given his first few years in the league his body of work and how long will he stay at that level in the league and you try to structure a contract that captures all of his best years and creates a flexible contract in the years he might start to decline," said Paraag Marathe.

Now, do you think the Bills thought about all that when they offered Ryan Fitzpatrick a $60 million contract extension last year?


























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