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Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by thenepatsrule, Oct 26, 2009.

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  1. thenepatsrule

    thenepatsrule Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    Nice article which relates BBs plays to an economic paper...... would be boring for most ppl i guess..............if there are any math geniuses reading this (MIT etc) would be interesting to get your take on how BB calculates the risks etc.......
    Super Bowl Economics: Incremental Analysis, With Two Yards to Go

    i remember there being a reference to this paper in an episode of NUMB3RS
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2009
  2. PatsFanSince74

    PatsFanSince74 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    There's a lot of stuff on this kind of thinking. One of the original sources is "The Hidden Game of Football" by Bob Carroll, Pete Palmer and John Thorn (1998) which claims to analyze hundreds of thousands of plays to give a view on the "right" decision (i.e., the decision yielding the greatest likelihood of success) based on down, distance, score and game clock. The book is densely and poorly written, but makes its point. Football Outsiders does something similar today.

    IMO, the problem with this kind of analysis is that it ends up giving us a median probability of a most likely outcome that then has to be used for instantaneous decision making "in the moment," but that doesn't account for the myriad of things that can happen (Statisticians call this the "Flaw of Averages"). In other words, it's not yet robust enough to capture all the variables that are in play in that "moment" as well as the experience and knowledge that are inside Bill Belichick's head as he makes that decision.

    Bottom line for me is that there's no replacing the instincts of a Belichick or any other great coach.
  3. JSn

    JSn Rookie

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    I think the biggest issue is that these problems are being solved with numbers like 12, 39, 76, etc... meaning, the best odds of success for one team might not be the best for another team, based on personnel.
  4. Synovia

    Synovia Rookie

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    Of course. Which is why the metrics never say "you should go for it". They say "You should go for it if you think you can convert more than XX percent of the time". IE, the risk is 1/3 as bad as the reward is good, or whatever.

    The coach decides what he things his chances of converting are.

    That being said, BB has been the most aggressive coach in teh NFL as far as going for it on 4th downs. The numbers analysis says that teams don't go for it nearly enough.
  5. holyredeemer

    holyredeemer Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    Ya, I agree with a few of the previous posters regarding play selection.

    If you have to rely on economics or any form of averages in order to make your decisions then you are gonna be in for a long game. The game of Football has far too many variables to take everything into account, and even then, you can never take into account a particular players performance.

    All that matters in this game is reaction speed, and execution. You take care of both of those things over the course of a football game, and do so with more consistency then the team you are facing, I'm gonna bet you win the game.

    The article is very interesting though.
  6. Synovia

    Synovia Rookie

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    Says a fan of the most statistically motivated team in the NFL?
  7. makewayhomer

    makewayhomer Rookie

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    it's this type of thinking that allows smart people to get way, way ahead of dumb people
  8. patfanken

    patfanken On the Roster

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    #91 Jersey

    Interesting. ESPN did an interview with a very successful HS HC in Arkansas (Little Rock) who virtually NEVER punts the ball. That includes time when he was in his own red zone. This is a team that has won 2 state titles in the last 7 years and is has made the playoffs every year during that time. He cited some stats that started him on this trend, and over the years he punted fewer and fewer times. Last year he said he punted only 3 times. . He also stated that he onside kicked more than half the time and had 7 different onside kick plays. Like punting he believes that the risk is worth the reward.

    IIRC it was on the show that follows Mike and Mike.

    BTW- the most interesting part of that article that was linked was the fact the BB responded to the guy who wrote the paper. He told him he should also consider the emotional factor of the team if they FAIL to pick it up. What was even MORE interesting was that the professor redid his numbers with that in mind.....and found out that it STILL didn't matter. Teams punt too often.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2009
  9. thenepatsrule

    thenepatsrule Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

  10. Gwedd

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    Indeed, there's also the morale/emotional factor forced upon the defense when you MAKE that 4th down. It means they're still on the field, and starting all over at 1st down, and closer to their own end zone.

    These studies have lots of use, but as commented upon above, they often can't adequately account for the reactions of the other side. They are best used as a guide, rather than a rule, for various situations.
  11. ElReyDeLosReyes

    ElReyDeLosReyes Rookie

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    It's stuff like this which shows why Bill Belichick is truly ahead of the game.
  12. Nonentity

    Nonentity Rookie

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    Disable Jersey

    It's a fantastic statistic.


    The best quote there is that "he onside kicked more than half the time and had 7 different onside kick plays." How many onside kick plays do NFL teams have - maybe 3 at the most? Perhaps if a bit more thought was put into successful onside kicks, they could get a success rate better than 20%.
  13. MassPats38

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    #87 Jersey

    It's impressive that Belichick would read a paper, but he supposedly has intellectual curiosity about all sorts of non-football topics.

    I saw the theory in control systems, but the bottom line still comes down to modeling the problem. It isn't just plugging in numbers. You have to identify what is relevant to determining an outcome. As that paper notes, much of the data is based on third down and is used to establish a model for fourth down planning. The data is also based on 1st quarter decisions, not 4th quarter and finally assumes the coach is risk-neutral, not risk-seeking or risk-averse. A basic understanding of football would probably tell you these are fairly major assumptions in professional football. I suspect based on these assumptions, Belichick is probably not employing the paper's theory but rather his own knowledge of teams' tendencies, his tendencies and basic probability.

    If you are having trouble falling asleep, most of the theory and equations can be found here.
  14. IcyPatriot

    IcyPatriot ------------- PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #87 Jersey

    So Belichick gets it and Mangini doesn't.
  15. Gwedd

    Gwedd PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #61 Jersey

    Pretty much...
  16. holyredeemer

    holyredeemer Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    It's that type of thinking that allows smart people to get ahead? Give me a break. One of these wonderful situations could be presented. Let's just use Albert Haynesworth and the Pats O-line. Going into a game against the Redskins, your Economic/Mathematics genius in the building tells you that you have an 80% chance of being successful on a qb sneak within the 20 yd line against Haynesworth.

    You're thinking, "It's 4th and 1, and we are on the 20 yd line with the game on the line, our local genius said we have an 80% chance of success." Your gut is telling you "Hey dumbass! Haynesworth has 4 TFL on the game and has been owning every hat we put on 'em!"

    You gonna go for it because the odds are in your favor or are you going to be realistic and understand that those 4th and 1 statistics gathered prior to the game have no impact on the current game you are involved with?

    If that example wasn't a good one, I apologize. I'm sure some of you are smart enough to get what I was saying. :cool:
  17. apple strudel

    apple strudel Banned

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    Having good information on what is more likely to work in certain situations that other teams don't pay attention to can make a huge difference over the course of the season if applied and executed well. Take two teams with similar execution and give one the advantage of superior understanding of what is more likely to be effective and what team do you think wins? What team do you think has a better chance of winning the super bowl? Leave no useful stone unturned. (Also, better statisticians are pretty much the main reason for the resurgence of the Red Sox. Different game, but understanding your sport better makes your organization better.)
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2009
  18. holyredeemer

    holyredeemer Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    Isn't this simply called film study? Like I said on my first post on the subject. I find it interesting, but not at all game breaking. If this is what our team is focusing on then maybe they need to throw the books away and have the coaches focus on making appropriate adjustments after half time. I'm sure it wasn't math and statistics that allowed Josh McD to see that we were giving his receivers a 45 yd. cusion.
  19. apple strudel

    apple strudel Banned

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    No. One is micro and the other is macro.

    I'm pretty sure they have guys do research and report interesting findings to the coaching staff so that the y can evaluate the usefulness.

    That's apples and oranges, though. There's no reason the two can't work in concert.
  20. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think you're going WAY too far in the other direction. What you've said renders play selection meaningless -- might as well run it up the middle on 3rd and 15 if all that matters in this game is reaction speed, and execution.

    Absolutely every NFL coach relies on "averages" to make decisions. That's why they're passing on 3rd and long, punting rather than attempting 70-yard field goals, etc. What's unusual about Belichick is his willingness to reconsider longtime conventional football wisdom when data point him in a different direction.

    The studies described in that article do NOT tell you what the right move is in a particular real-world game situation, given the myriad variables of personnel, field, etc. They DO suggest that coaches should adjust how they make those decisions to avoid common biases in judgment. E.g., the fact that overall, NFL teams punt and go for 2-point conversions too often shows that the current conventional wisdom is flawed. A competitive advantage can be gained by fixing those flaws, and Adams & Belichick will be out in front trying to grab that advantage.

    Probably the clearest example of this is in the part about the draft and "hyperbolic discounting." We all know that the Pats trade picks into the future to improve positioning more than any team we've ever seen. They're systematically taking advantage of the established "1 round up" for a future pick -- which for teams with stable management is simply an irrationality in the market. It's basic draft pick arbitrage.
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