There has been a lot of talk about analytics over the last couple of days due to how the Dallas Cowboys lost to the New England Patriots. Facing fourth and seven, you know the play, late in the game, the Cowboys decided to kick a field goal as opposed to going for it despite being down by a touchdown. Analytics suggest that this lowers your win probability and as we live in the day and age of 2019 that’s a level of logic that a lot of people subscribe to.
Asked about this on Monday, Jason Garrett sort of thumbed his nose at the idea of analytics. He said on 105.3 The Fan in the morning that the Cowboys don’t use analytics during a given game and he doubled down on those comments in his evening press conference.
This answer from Jason Garrett about the team having someone available to the Cowboys during the game that can provide analytics is depressing— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) November 26, 2019
(via @dallascowboys) https://t.co/xY2Rw6FWd6 pic.twitter.com/CPN7kwzZDj
It’s hard to believe that as of Thanksgiving Week in 2019 the Dallas Cowboys do not really employ the usage of analytics.
This extends beyond Jason Garrett. Appearing on 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday, Jerry Jones noted that he agreed with Garrett’s approach. He noted that “feel” of the game is generally more important in his opinion.
“I happen to agree with him. The analytics aspect of it is a history of how these decisions have worked out. That’s probably good to know. But the momentum of the game, the situation of the game, the, if you will in the other night’s game, the conditions of the game. All of that are more important in my mind than the success history of a similar decision. You’re dealing with averages, you’re dealing with almost theory. And you’re certainly dealing with a result but it doesn’t take into account really the kinds of times when you’ve gone against every odds and made it work. I’ve had my biggest success when I’m sure analytics would have said make the other decision the other way.”
This seems like an extremely arrogant way to approach football (or any sport, or anything really) in the year 2019. There is more information than ever available to us all and to purposely disregard it in the name of feel would be quite the way to roll. It seems that that is indeed how the Cowboys like to roll, though.
The Baltimore Ravens have been very public about their usage of analytics during games. Of course, this conversation with the Cowboys would be happening during the week that the Ravens put together one of the most impressive performances of the season by throttling the Rams on Monday Night Football. Analytics seem to work pretty well for them.