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Seth Walder (@SethWalder)
1/29/20, 2:26 PM
Last summer, after the Ravens made three analytics hires, I started doing some research for a story on analytics staffing in the NFL. Talked to some folks and learned some interesting things, but it was a little all over the map and we ended up tabling the story for now
NBD, it happens. But with the season coming to a close, wanted to share a few things on the subject in a twitter thread, at least, rather than put them nowhere. Note that these conversations are a few months old at this point . What I wanted to really know was: is analytics staffing in the NFL on the rise? The answer was a clear yes. NFL director of data analytics StatsbyLopez told me in September that he estimated analytics staffers had increased by about 20% year over year. Bills director of football research and strategy Dennis Lock estimated in the summer that numbers had doubled over the prior two years. The Ravens made three hires, (not a net gain of 3 though, because they lost Eugene Shen to the Dolphins) but they weren’t the only ones making hires last year. Even the Bengals have a football data analyst listed on their staff now.
I also thought it was interesting that there were 3 team-to-team moves at or to the director level. That’s not unprecedented – previously Mitch Tanney went from the Bears to the Broncos and Sandy Weil from the Ravens to Kroenke S& E – but rare in the nascent NFL analytics field. The three moves were: Lock from the Dolphins to Bills, Shen from the Ravens to the Dolphins and Taylor Rajack from the Eagles to the Panthers.
“It’s like we’re growing up,” a senior analytics staffer for an NFL team joked at the time.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the flip side: last offseason three higher level analytics staffers – Kevin Meers (Browns), Karim Kassam (Steelers) and Tyler Oberly (Bucs) – left for non-NFL work/school. Lopez also noted that from 2018 to 2019 the number of women working in football analytics in the NFL grew from 2 to 7.
So back to the original question, about the uptick in hiring. Why? I started with the hypothesis that it was simply due to player tracking. The people I spoke with felt like that was a good chunk of the answer but not the whole thing. First, three non-player tracking reasons I heard:
1. Keeping up with the Joneses. A feeling that other teams are doing data-driven work, causing other teams to feel left behind and wanting to catch up. Increased use of analytics in football media also may have spurred this on.
2. Cross-pollination by non-analytics staffers. A coach/scout/personnel executive moves from one team to another, and notes an effective tool he/she had at their last team that the new team could add.
3. Ownership pushing for quantitative approach. Carolina is probably an example of this
But the player tracking data was definitely a factor for some teams, too. The sheer scale of the data means that it would be difficult for a one-person shop to build meaningful tools and draw conclusions out of it. “You know, a couple years ago…you would look in the play by play data and you would get 160 rows per game... With the player tracking data, you go from 160 rows per game to now you’ve got that on a single player on a single play," Lopez said. An in-between step that multiple people mentioned as a valuable resource was the information teams receive from @PFF. That upped the data quantity from just straight play-by-play, before player tracking upped it even more. “Now we have an infinite set of variables, whatever we can think of, on this tracking data for all 22 players. And so the data just over the last five years has changed so significantly,” said Lock. In turn, the increased scale means more data processing and data management work is required, thus necessitating more developer-type roles in addition to analysts. Think: this position the Ravens are hiring for. A notion I heard was: analytics folks already had full-time jobs before player tracking came around. They couldn’t drop all the other work and focus entirely on player tracking…and that’s the kind of effort it needs. Hence, for some clubs, more hires. I’ll caveat this next part by saying that no one has a perfect sense of what their competition is doing with NGS and that things may have shifted for some teams since last summer (especially given the hiring uptick) but the feeling at the time I heard was: “I would suspect that most clubs are struggling to get their arms wrapped around it,” Sandy Weil, former director of sports analytics at Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, said in the summer.
“I’d say pretty comfortably that probably over half aren’t doing meaningful work (with player tracking). But that’s probably something that’s likely to change,” added one high-level analytics staffer for an NFL team, also last summer. Another high-level staffer guessed only a small fraction of teams had really gotten into it as of that time. One factor that is likely accelerating the adoption of player tracking: the Big Data Bowl. It helped illuminate what was possible with player tracking and also exposed a set of possible recruits for teams. Out of the inaugural event, 11 participants were hired by NFL teams, the league or third-party NFL player tracking vendors, per Lopez.
Linsey PFF: 2019 rookies most likely to make a big jump in 2020
“S JULIAN LOVE, NEW YORK GIANTS
At Notre Dame, Love played the vast majority of his snaps at wide cornerback, and he played well there, too, earning a 92.6 coverage grade across the 2017 and 2018 seasons. His transition to the NFL came with a position change, though, as the Giants asked Love to play safety as a rookie. This season, he split his time between playing in the box (176 snaps), slot corner (129 snaps) and even a little bit of free safety (77 snaps). As the table of his snaps by alignment below shows, that was new territory for the rookie.
Year.......Wide Corner........Slot Corner......Box....Free Safety
Love didn't see significant playing time until Week 12, but he made a good first impression to close out his rookie season by earning an overall grade of 70.5. The versatility to play safety, slot corner and wide corner — like he showed he was able to in college — serves the Giants well as they head into 2020. At the very least, Love showed that he deserves more playing time next season.”
Nick Falato (@nickfalato)
2/6/20, 10:28 PM
I’m a huge fan of Love and I thought he showed impressive speed and closing burst, but he wasn’t utilized at deep C1. He filled in very valiantly when Peppers went down, but his deep C1 ability is up in the air as of now. I think things are very bright for him in NY.
Dan Schneier (@DanSchneierNFL)
2/6/20, 4:25 PM
I also think Giants need a deep half safety. It's my top priority. I do NOT think Love SHOULD play that role. Can he? Maybe. I think he is best near the LOS though. They need a deep-half safety with a lot of range. Have needed it for years
Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks)
2/5/20, 11:44 PM
Had this chat with a personnel exec the other day about versatility being more important than ever. My theory on safeties- play high, force player or cover in slot... need guys that can do 2 of the 3. Any combo works.
Jones USA Today: NFL's quarterback landscape could be headed for seismic shift this offseason
Lombardi The Athletic: From the GM’s Eye: A look at the free agent quarterback market, from Tom Brady to Philip Rivers
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Newman Denver Post: Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur talks play-calling philosophy, Drew Lock and more
Klis 9News Denver: NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR PAT SHURMUR: 'I BELIEVE IN EVERYTHING WE ALL KNOW ABOUT THE BRONCOS'
Legwold ESPN Denver: Broncos will get a more 'aggressive' offense under Pat Shurmur
Meinke Michigan Live: Steve Mariucci: ‘Before we all die, the Lions have to get that revolving door out of the front of their facility
Rogers Detroit News: Six potential trade-down partners for the Lions and their No. 3 pick in NFL Draft
Birkett Detroit Free Press: NFL mock draft explainer: Why Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah makes sense for Detroit Lions
Walker Colts.com: Tom Rathman On Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Ball Security
Mather NYT: Jacksonville Jaguars’ London Games Create Distance With Fans
Teicher ESPN KC: Chiefs' to-do list: Deals for Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones and more
Bair NBC Bay Area: Raiders sign Jalen Richard to two-year contract extension through 2021
Gutierrez ESPN LV: How do the Raiders close the WR gap with the Chiefs?
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Klein LA Times: Rams safety Eric Weddle announces retirement
Kelly Sun Sentinel: These Dolphins veterans are in danger of being cut or traded to create salary-cap space
Deen Sun Sentinel: Domestic violence charges against Dolphins star cornerback Xavien Howard droppe
Callahan Boston Herald: Could the Patriots trade for one of these 3 quarterbacks if Tom Brady leaves?
Cox NESN: Patriots Offseason Outlook: How Can New England Improve Tight End Group?
Bowen Phil Inquirer: Eagles announce reshuffled coaching staff, which includes a splitting of the offensive coordinator duties
Tannewold Phil Inquirer: Eagles cult hero Boston Scott used soccer to become a better football player
Pryor ESPN Pittsburgh: Minkah Fitzpatrick now says he wants to be more versatile with Steelers
Killion SF Chronicle: 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch rewind Super Bowl ‘punch in the gut’ loss
Branch SF Chronicle: 49ers’ Shanahan defends Garoppolo, play calls and own time management
Maiocco NBC Bay Area: Jerick McKinnon willing to do 'whatever' to return to 49ers next season
Branch SF Chronicle: John Lynch: 49ers want Arik Armstead to be with team ‘a long time’
Condotta Seattle Times: Seahawks position overview: 1-2 punch in WRs Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf but need more from the rest
Bacharach The Tennessean: How will Titans defense fare without a true defensive coordinator – and with Mike Vrabel calling plays?
Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet)
2/6/20, 2:02 PM
From NFL Now: #Redskins coach Ron Rivera's offseason plan begins on Feb. 10, but this much is clear -- LT Trent Williams is firmly in the team's plans and they are not intent on trading him like the previous regime was. But they need to get through the process to be sure
John Keim (@john_keim)
2/6/20, 2:49 PM
FWIW: There has still been no contact between the Redskins and Trent Williams, per source. He is under contract so there's no rush just yet. There's time to talk and see if the new regime can change his previous desire to leave. If not, can see about trading before the draft.
Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL)
2/6/20, 10:57 PM
Pure guesses, but I think Trent and Scherff get worked out. Not so sure on Flowers. I know people were high on Flowers and he did better than anyone anticipated, but Scherff is still the elite guard
Pauline PFN: Rivera loves Chase Young – Redskins news and notes
Slater NJ.com: What the heck is Kevin Gilbride doing in XFL? The forgotten Giants hero is finally in charge — and ready to write a new ending to his career
Tuls The Draft Network: TULS' 2020 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0
General manager Dave Gettleman is fully invested in Daniel Jones as the future of the New York Giants, and as such, he’s going to use this offseason to give Jones the protection he needs. Jones was one of the most pressured quarterbacks in 2019, and I’d be shocked if the first tackle in this class did not come off the board here. Jedrick Wills fits Gettleman’s MO as a physical mauler up front. Wills can also be a plug and play starter on either side
Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass)
2/6/20, 1:07 AM
Jalen Hurts thread:
Even going back to his time at Alabama, I've been impressed with how Hurts conducts himself when pressured. Remains calm and knows where his outlets are. Great stuff to flip his shoulders and climb back to the LoS to throw.
Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass)
2/6/20, 12:28 PM
Hurts has no time to fully reset his body toward the right sideline to make this throw, so he has to make do. Does the best he can to snap his hips and flick this pass out. I kinda like Hurts' ability to throw from sudden platforms like this
Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass)
2/6/20, 12:39 PM
I appreciate Hurts' ability to keep plays alive, but after a certain point, they become broken beyond repair and it's better to live for the next series. Throw this away, take the points, and move on
Pflum BBV: 2020 NFL Draft prospect profile: Patrick Taylor Jr., RB, Memphis
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Standig The Athletic: Unmasking Chase Young the pass rusher, friend and relentless singer is Markelle Fultz’s latest assist
Dan Schneier (@DanSchneierNFL)
2/6/20, 3:47 PM
Normally, an EDGE prospect like K'Lavon Chaisson would be on my avoid list for the #2020NFLDraft but if I've learned anything from using that same approach on Danelle Hunter it's that the right coaching + culture makes a prospect like Chaisson intriguing and not a lock to avoid
Giants Birthdays 2-07
Gus Coppens T W-LA RAMS 1979 NYG 1979 2-07-19
DiTrani The Bergen Record: COSELL, ABC HIT FOR GIANT MISTAKE 9-20-1979
EAST RUTHERFORD---“The Giants offense didn't fool too many people Monday night, as the 27-0 final score indicated. But at least three in attendance at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., were befuddled by one segment of the offensive unit: the left tackle position.
And Gordon Gravelle is considering a suit against Howard Cosell, one of the three who jam the ABC booths for the Monday night games, for blaming him for sins committed by Gus Coppens.
The mix-up occurred in the second half when Redskins end Coy Bacon rolled past Coppens, who was identified as Gravelle by play-by-play man Frank Gifford.
"Frank knew Gravelle wasn't on the roster and asked the Redskins' PR department to find out the number he'd be wearing," said an ABC spokesman. "They told him he was wearing No. 78."
The broadcasting team took it for gospel even though No. 78 already was assigned to Coppens. "And besides, what do they put the names on the back of the uniforms for?" asked Gravelle.
So as the nation watched a player with "Coppens 78" on his back have trouble with Bacon, Cosell said, "I tell you the Giant linemen look like statues."
"There they go around Gravelle again," said Gifford.
"He may take another fine and go home now," added Cosell, referring to the $15,300 Gravelle was docked for missing training camp and the first week of the season.
"I called my wife after the game and she was in hysterics," said Gravelle. "It was slanderous. I'm talking to my attorney about it and we're considering filing a suit against Cosell.
"He is a disgrace to the broadcasting profession, the epitome of an arrogant egotist. He is degrading to football."
The ABC spokesman declined any comment on the proposed suit, but said, "As far as any blasting of Gravelle by Cosell, it wasn't there."
"I understand he was referring to my staying out of camp," said Gravelle, who ended his retirement two weeks ago. "A man of his caliber shouldn't be allowed to broadcast. He takes away from the integrity of the football and allowed himself to be swayed into a false sense of importance with the American public. The man doesn't know what he's talking about."
This isn't the first case of mistaken identity that has shown up on Monday night telecasts. The ABC broadcasting crew is notorius for mixing up names and numbers.
But neither Gravelle nor Coppens nor any of the other Giants' offensive linemen have grounds for any action against the announcers' critique of their performance. Joe Pisarcik's battered body and the club's No. 14 rank in NFC rushing and total offense attest to that.”
Kelvin Davis G 1987 UDFA-Johnson C Smith 1987 NYG 1987 2-07-1963
Ryan Phillips LB D3-Idaho NYG 1997-2000 2-07-1974
Idaho Hall of Fame
“Ryan Phillips terrorized quarterbacks for four season from 1993-96 on the gridiron. He was a three-time First Team All-Conference defensive end and was the 1995 Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year. He was a two-time All-American, with second-team honors in 1994 and first-team honors in 1995, and earned invites to the Blue-Gray All-Star Game and Senior Bowl in 1996. He was the team’s Most Valuable Player as well as the Defensive MVP in 1995 and 1996. His 39.5 career sacks rank second all-time at Idaho, while his 91 tackles for loss are the most all-time. He was drafted by the New York Giants in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft and compiled 130 tackles in 71 games over five seasons with the Giants and Colts.”
In a 2012 article Phillips described his professional experience:
“People usually know," Phillips said of his former career as a linebacker in the National Football League. "They're always interested in what it was like."
“There's no real way to prepare for it," said Phillips, whose five-year career left him with 3.5 pro sacks, 44 tackles, four interceptions, a torn MCL and a bulging disc in his neck. "You just have to be thrown into the fire."
When Phillips sits down for the game Sunday, he'll watch his old team, the New York Giants, square off against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
He doesn't watch a lot of football since his playing days ended in 2002, but he always pulls for the G-Men - the team that drafted him in the third round of the 1997 NFL draft out of the University of Idaho, and the one Phillips helped take to Super Bowl XXXV in 2001.
People tend to want to talk about that too; Phillips played in the big one.
An experience, like the league, that was all intense, all the time, he said. Even during the regular season, every practice, every drill was videotaped and scrutinized by coaches.
"There's media day and that's about as light as it gets," he said of the Super Bowl's weeklong limelight of cameras, microphones, practice drills and walkthroughs.
"You go back to the hotel room to try and get away from it and watch TV but there's nothing but Super Bowl coverage on every channel.
"By the end, you just want to play the game," the 6-foot 4-inch, 250-pounder said.
The Giants lost to the Baltimore Ravens 34-7, which still stings Phillips, and at the end of the game an opposing player came down on the linebacker's leg and he tore his MCL.
That was the picture that made rounds after the game: The dejected, injured player crumpled in defeat.
"I was the shot that year," he said of the captured moment.”
John Weiss RE 1944 NYG 1944-1947 Born 2-07-1922 Died 8-1976