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Jason Garrett: Cowboys do not use win probability analytics in game

Cowboys coaches don’t use some analytics during the game.

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off another disappointing loss on the road in New England, Jason Garrett joined 105.3 The Fan’s “Shan and RJ” to discuss the in’s and out’s of the 13-9 loss. As always, Garrett answered some tough questions throughout the interview, but the one that really raised some eyebrows was Garrett’s comment regarding the use of win probability analytics on game day.

There were multiple situations on Sunday afternoon where the Cowboys win probability would have been higher if they had gone for it on fourth down, instead of kicking the field goal. Most importantly, the final field goal with six minutes to go in the final quarter.

Garrett’s response was rather worrisome: “We don’t use those numbers on game day”.

But why?

If this coaching staff is blatantly ignoring analytics that are telling them they have a better chance to win the game if they go for it, instead of kicking the field goal, that is not okay.

Here’s an interesting quote from an article titled “Analytical edge: How John Harbaugh and Ravens have gained an advantage with fourth-down aggressiveness”.

In that moment, Harbaugh had to weigh the win probability numbers with how the Ravens were playing offensively and how much he liked Roman’s call against the Seahawks’ defense.

“We were doing OK, there was some looseness going on, I wasn’t feeling great about how things were going,” Roman recalls. “We weren’t dominating the game. I could have gone either way with it. It made sense either way. But I liked the play we had for it. We were prepared for the situation.”

Harbaugh heard what he needed to from Roman and Stern and saw Jackson coming to the sideline as Justin Tucker lined up for the kick.

“Harbs saw him as he was running off the field,” says Stern. “And Harbs takes his headset off. I knew as soon as he took his headset off that we were going because I’ve talked to Lamar about it before, and Lamar always wants to go. He’s obviously extremely confident. Our offense has been awesome all year — especially in short-yardage situations. So when he went to Lamar there, I knew that was the direction we were gonna go. He put his headset back on. He’s like, ‘Alright we’re calling timeout.’ He goes down there, he calls timeout and then we went for it, which I was obviously really happy about.”

Harbaugh called timeout with just five seconds on the play clock. Roman found QB power on his call sheet, and Jackson worked his magic for an 8-yard touchdown.

It’s very frustrating to see other great teams around the league use analytics to make in-game decisions that impact the final score. The Ravens for example, who could be the best team in the league and one that just took the New England Patriots to the woodshed, putting great emphasis on those numbers. As Jason Garrett told us this morning, he doesn't use those numbers, and the way he said it sure made it seem like he wasn’t even interested in hearing or knowing about them. For a coach on the hot seat, and one that has historically struggled to beat some of the better teams in the league, that doesn’t seem like the best idea.

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