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Ravens hire a mathematician to help with coaching, personnel

Publicity photo of actor Brad Pitt in scene from Oscar nominate film "Moneyball" Reuters

The Ravens are going Moneyball.

The team announced Monday they hired Yale and Carnegie Mellon-educated Sandy Weil as the team’s director of football analytics, working with the coaching staff and personnel department.

According to the team’s official website, “his in-depth statistical research will range from examining certain in-game situations to mining data related to the NFL Draft.”

“We already do a lot of things right,” Weil said. “The question is: are there places where we could do things a little better or a little more informed?”

Because of the inter-dependent nature of the game (a missed block by one offensive lineman can destroy a potential big run by a back), football has lagged behind baseball in particular in terms of mathematical analysis.

But Weil said he wanted to “use analysis to challenge and examine some of the prevailing schools of thought within the NFL.”

“We’re always looking for confirmation on things we think we know and insights that could provide an edge for us in personnel and coaching,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. “This is where Sandy will help us.”

At the moment, the specifics of his duties are unclear. He’s also worked with the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA, but guys with titles such as his are becoming more widespread in baseball after the story of Oakland GM Billy Beane became a best-selling book and popular movie.

“They found a market inefficiency and that exploited it,” Weil said. “That’s what ‘Moneyball’ was about and there are going to be places that you can look at in football and find new stuff. And the question is if you can exploit inefficiencies on that front to create value. I hope so.”

As was explained in the book, such efforts were met with skepticism by old-school scouts and coaches at first.

Weil shouldn’t expect anything less, but good for the Ravens being forward-thinking enough in a business which can suffer from a group-think of evaluators.

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16 Responses to “Ravens hire a mathematician to help with coaching, personnel”
  1. getyourownname says: Aug 6, 2012 11:26 AM

    The Ravens ARE a forward thinking franchise, but even with all the infiroamtion in the world, the coachnig staff still has to have the common sense to call a time out, when necessary, to get their FG kicker settled for a last second game-tying FG attempt .

  2. hulkhogansays says: Aug 6, 2012 11:27 AM

    All the math in the world can’t help you when Joe Flacco is at QB brother.

  3. ralphtherealravenfan says: Aug 6, 2012 11:28 AM

    I like it.

  4. ravenator says: Aug 6, 2012 12:02 PM

    What a well run organization. Keep on hating, haters.

  5. 2dollarpbrs says: Aug 6, 2012 12:11 PM

    Maybe now the Ravens coaching staff will know how many time outs they still have left

  6. patsfanforlife says: Aug 6, 2012 12:31 PM

    Can he calculate the odds of Billy Cundiff missing wide left on a 20 yard FG?

  7. sportsmeccabi says: Aug 6, 2012 12:39 PM

    You don’t need to be an expert in math to figure out giving the ball to ray rice is a good idea.

  8. ctp603 says: Aug 6, 2012 4:34 PM

    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain

    Sabremetrics makes me ill.

  9. ppdoc13 says: Aug 6, 2012 4:37 PM

    @hulkhogansays – ok, pencil neck, why don’t you ask the steelers and the pats what they think of flacco. The guy has the highest winning percentage of any qb in nfl history in his first 4 years and has won playoff games in each of his 4 years. Meanwhile Marty ice chosen 15 spots in front of him is o’fer the playoffs lifetime. So tell me, are you ignorant or just stupid

  10. kingcarlbanks says: Aug 6, 2012 5:37 PM

    @ppdoc

    He’s both, and he’s a redskin fan. His team hasn’t been relevant since Zubaz pants.

  11. randallflagg52 says: Aug 6, 2012 5:51 PM

    This is why the Ravens are an elite team in the NFL. They think outside the box. Before Harbuagh, was their ever a coach who went from a special teams coordinator to a Head Coach? The Ravens hired off ability rather than former title, and it’s worked out great.

    The Ravens adapt like no other team. How many Defensive coordinators have they had over the last decade? A lot, and they’re still able to maintain a top 5 defense each and every year.

  12. steeltownpride says: Aug 6, 2012 6:02 PM

    ppdoc13 …..

    Yes Flacco has the highest winning percentage in his first 4 yours . But you have to admit if you arent a homer . 30% of Flaccos wins are won inspite of him not cause of him .

    Put Matty Ice on the Ravens and how do you think they fair ? Same ? Little worse ? Better ? Dont know . But either do you .

  13. gotcaughtcheating says: Aug 6, 2012 6:03 PM

    Maybe he’ll blow out the cap on a mediocre QB and running back (ha ha ha — WHO DOES THAT ANYMORE – besides ringless teams???), while simultanesously letting their stud OG walk with no backup and roll the dice on a 36 year-old journeyman Center with two bad knees and a 400 pound sack of cookie dough at LT.

  14. randallflagg52 says: Aug 6, 2012 11:18 PM

    gotcaughtcheating says:Aug 6, 2012 6:03 PM

    Maybe he’ll blow out the cap on a mediocre QB and running back (ha ha ha — WHO DOES THAT ANYMORE – besides ringless teams???), while simultanesously letting their stud OG walk with no backup and roll the dice on a 36 year-old journeyman Center with two bad knees and a 400 pound sack of cookie dough at LT.

    ==================================

    One of the most ignorant posts I’ve ever seen on PFT, congrats that’s quite an accoplishment.

    1. Joe Flacco and especially Ray Rice are not mediorce. No one thinks thats.

    2. The Ravens are not ringless. Duh…

    3. Baltimore’s stud OG is Marshall Yanda, not Grubbs. Grubbs was above average, but they extended Yanda and ignored Grubbs for a reason.

    4. Matt Birk is a 6 time pro bowler, with a serious shot at the Hall of Fame. I don’t think anyone agrees with you calling him a journeyman.

    5. That 400 lbs sack of cookie dough did a pretty good job of making James Harrison about as effective as a school boy last year. He may be fat, but he’s a solid player. Better than what the Steelers have at tackle anyway.

  15. steelersownyou says: Aug 7, 2012 4:27 AM

    Ravens are gonna be awful this year….9-7 at best. Steelers will be 14-2.. Cant wait ro crush these ratbirds.. You dont need a mathematician to figure out you guys stink. What a waste if moey. What you really need is an english teacher for that uneducated team. Coach butchers the language. Listening to a has been safety talk who looks like hes homeless instantly makes me dumber. And flacco is so dumb he couldnt spell cat if you spotted him the c _ t. You try to mimic the steelers but all you do is embarrass yourselves. Classless organization! We own you!

  16. verticalface says: Aug 7, 2012 9:31 PM

    As a nerd I LOVE LOVE LOVE this move. Unfortunately I am skeptical they’ll share much info with the gen pub :-/

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