By HCR Staff | May 19, 2020
The discussion on how numbers should be utilized in understanding performance will be never-ending. There are those who can’t tell if a performance was good or bad without first consulting the numbers, and then there are those who simply use their eyes and understanding of the game.
Here at HCR, we’re in the latter camp – even though our algorithm results in a number.
One strong opinion we do have when it comes to numbers: it’s always a bad look whenever an NFL head coach starts using stats or numbers to justify a decision.
Presumably, NFL head coaches are paid many millions of dollars a year in salary because a) they have a deep understanding of the game of football; b) they have well-trained eyes for football; and c) they can tie a & b together to derive a reasonable conclusion and path forward to creating a winning team.
Basically, in our view, every NFL head coach should have an effective combination of gut feel, experience, and judgment. They should, rarely, ever use numbers to justify a decision.
But when they do, that’s a red flag to us. It’s an indication that they’re second-guessing a decision – at least to some material extent.
One case in point is Jon Gruden and the Raiders’ first round selection in this year’s draft, Ohio St. cornerback Damon Arnette. Selected No. 19 overall, some observers are calling his selection a reach.
Gruden, in speaking with the Mercury News this week, defended the pick, and in doing so, brought up Arnette’s rating by ProFootballFocus.
No knock against PFF, but Jon Gruden is a Super Bowl-winning head coach and his GM is a former college and NFL defensive back, Mike Mayock. Both were also former game analysts. They’ve seen a lot of football.
That’s 2 pairs of pretty experienced eyes to go along with the basic Combine measurements that every team gets.
Their evaluation also is bolstered by the opinion of the Raiders’ own scouts; pros who evaluate for a living.
If Gruden had to defend the selection, we would have guessed 10 times out of 10 that he simply would’ve said something like “look, that’s our evaluation. We think he’s a good football player, and that he’s going to help us win.”
By bringing up the PFF rating, Gruden looks defensive, and he makes the decision even more suspect. If PFF is going to be used in the selection process, then why not simply follow PFF’s rankings to the letter? There were more highly rated corners per PFF.
Keep it in mind. When you hear your head coach arguing stats or numbers, he’s showing insecurity about his decision-making. And that’s a red flag for game day.