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Brian Billick: You can’t do Moneyball in the NFL

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Can a Moneyball approach work in the NFL?

That’s the question everyone is asking this week in response to the Browns hiring Paul DePodesta, the analytics maven who was prominently featured in the book Moneyball and played by Jonah Hill (in a largely fictionalized role) in the movie. DePodesta has had success applying the analytical approach commonly referred to as Moneyball during his tenure with the Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics and New York Mets, but many in the NFL world are skeptical that the same approach can work in the NFL.

Count Super Bowl-winning former Ravens coach Brian Billick as one of the skeptics. Billick said today on Mike & Mike that Moneyball simply isn’t going to work in the NFL.

“One of the most common questions I get is, Can you do Moneyball, for lack of a better term, in the NFL? And the answer is, No, you can’t,” Billick said. “You can’t quantify the game of football the way you do baseball. It’s not a statistical game. The parameters of the game, the number of bodies and what they’re doing in conjunction with one another.”

Billick is clearly correct that statistical analysis in football is not as advanced as it is in baseball. Most football analytics people would freely admit that. Baseball is a fundamentally different sport, in which one player’s performance is less reliant on his teammates’ performances, and therefore the statistics of a baseball player are a much better reflection of his own value than are the statistics of a football player.

But DePodesta is presumably smart enough to know that. The question, then, is not whether football statistics are as beneficial as baseball statistics, but whether DePodesta’s analytical approach to football statistics can find advantages over teams that don’t use the same approach. That’s a question that we haven’t seen answered yet because no NFL team has gone all-in on analytics the way teams like the Oakland A’s have in baseball. But DePodesta’s hiring is a big moment in the NFL: If he finds strategic advantages that help the Browns become winners, other teams will seek to emulate his approach. If DePodesta fails, analytics in football will take a hit.

Even more important than the fundamental differences in the sports of football and baseball are the fundamental differences in the business practices of Major League Baseball and the National Football League. For starters, the whole idea of the “money” in Moneyball was that the Oakland A’s had a lot less money to spend on players than the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Anaheim Angels, which meant that the A’s had to find a way to compete on the cheap. But in the NFL, with revenue sharing and a salary cap, that’s really not an issue. The Browns have the same amount of money as a big-market rival like the New York Jets, and the same amount of money as a small-market rival like the Buffalo Bills.

So where DePodesta thrived at finding ways to help small-market teams compete by identifying valuable but inexpensive players (and then helped the big-market Mets win the pennant by identifying valuable players for a team that could spend whatever it took to acquire them), in Cleveland he has a different job. With the Browns, DePodesta isn’t looking for better values as much as he’s looking more broadly for better strategic practices. His success or lack thereof will go a long way toward determining whether the rest of the league agrees or disagrees with Billick’s premise that Moneyball can’t work in the NFL.

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121 Responses to “Brian Billick: You can’t do Moneyball in the NFL”
  1. Bub says: Jan 7, 2016 9:09 AM

    Brian Billick should shut his old, retired mouth.

  2. mburkett1980 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:11 AM

    This experiment is surely destined to fail badly because…Browns.

  3. miamiviking says: Jan 7, 2016 9:14 AM

    I think you’re wrong about a fundamental difference in identifying cheap talent between MLB and the NFL.

    While NFL teams all have the same amount of money to spend, the are all capped as well. There is therefore value to an analysis that could possibly maximize total roster talent within the salary cap as opposed to having a couple big-money free agents sucking up a huge amount of the cap. As the article says, NFL player performance is much more dependent on the function of the whole group as opposed to individual performance. An analytical analysis that could help avoid signing a big free agent bust while reallocating that cap space to 2 or 3 undervalued players that work well together could be useful.

    We see this same concept all the time in daily fantasy leagues. Browns look to be trying to be a real-life daily fantasy team.

  4. getyourownname says: Jan 7, 2016 9:15 AM

    “The Browns have the same amount of money as a big-market rival like the New York Jets, and the same amount of money as a small-market rival like the Buffalo Bills.”

    I don’t think this is correct as to locally-generated revenue, such as suite, club seating and sponsorship revenues from naming rights, which may be less than national TV revenue being shared but still can be considerable.

  5. klutch14u says: Jan 7, 2016 9:17 AM

    Baseball is like a badass guitar player. Football is like an orchestra

    There is some “team” play in baseball, you can’t be the only badass guitar player on the team BUT nothing like football.

    Not saying one is better or harder, they’re just entirely different.

    Could you imagine having a team full of Terrell Owens simply because on paper it’s the best?

  6. nflrule says: Jan 7, 2016 9:17 AM

    Does anybody really care what this windbag has to say?

  7. genericcommenter says: Jan 7, 2016 9:17 AM

    I think people are having some issues with trying to define “Moneyball” a little too specifically.

  8. dreemeagle says: Jan 7, 2016 9:18 AM

    Money ball might best be applied to the OWNERS, which is the only part of the pro football spectrum that approximates baseball–i. e., where money is no object and individual performance stands out far beyond that of the team so is easily quantifiable;

    if they’re looking for a mid-point compromise as a point to start from, may i suggest the commissioner?

  9. makimaguro says: Jan 7, 2016 9:19 AM

    Thank you! Someone please tell Pro a Football Focus that.

  10. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Jan 7, 2016 9:21 AM

    There are certainly teams taking advantage of the applicable portions of the ‘moneyball’ concept of analytics in football. As it pertains to roster building against the salary cap the Patriots have been doing it for at least as long as Belichick has been there. Halberstram’s book on Belichick has great insights into how they go about it.

  11. pftthoughtpolicemostwanted says: Jan 7, 2016 9:22 AM

    And apparently the NFL doesn’t do Brian Billick either.

  12. thestrategyexpert says: Jan 7, 2016 9:23 AM

    Of course you can have a Moneyball strategy that is applicable to football. It is much different and less statistical-science driven than baseball, but there is still an art and craft to determining unique ways to build a competitive football advantage. This was a very shrewd hire and Haslam tipped off that they have identified several areas related to football management and operations that the franchise was missing value on, and this move is designed to identify many areas that they seek to improve and create competitive advantage.

    I’ve been saying for many years that every NFL team should have a Chief Strategy Officer, and now the Browns have one. Good for them.

  13. tomtravis76 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:23 AM

    Cleveland is going to implement the never punt and always on side kick approach. Those are some interesting stats, more teams should be looking at that data.

  14. DawgPound83 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:24 AM

    Same team, new regime.
    Draft Day 2, staring Jonah Hill.

    Special appearances by Justin Beiber as Johnny Manziel and Dolph Lundgren as Josh McCown.

  15. footballgodtb12 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:24 AM

    And thats why you don’t run an NF franchise..Its ALL about the MONEY..from signing players to responsible conracts…not having money tied up in one position, to finding guys who can complete the job at a cheaper rate…Bill Belichick does this on a consistent basis year after year. From cutting/trading veterans who wont take a pay cut (Mankins, Wilfork, Browner, Seymour, Branch) Guys that fit totally in the system but were coming up to contract years and not reducing their salaries to benefit the teams cap. lot of the moves BB makes is for future cap hits and building towards keeping a strong core of winning. Jules Edelman said it best “I’ll be here as long as Bill doesn’t find someone cheaper to do what I do” and players know it…Amendola, Mayo took pay cuts prior to the season knowing they would be cut if they didn’t….It’s all about managing the money properly…not superstars

  16. zombiepatriot says: Jan 7, 2016 9:24 AM

    I’ll be interested to see if it succeeds as I do believe it has a place. The statistics used as applied to allocation of the salary cap make most sense. Why pay a player $5M/season if there is only a slight statistical drop off to a player you can pay $1M/season and then allocate the remaining funds to other areas on the roster where you may see slight improvements and therefore an overall improvement to the roster.

    I know there will always be those who defend the big free agent signing and over paying certain players on a roster but the question at those people is why does it seem to be more common the team who wins free agency flounders in the regular season?

  17. tedmurph says: Jan 7, 2016 9:24 AM

    That’s the common response of the old school whenever anything outside the box comes along. Teams in baseball resisted the moneyball stuff, until those teams started to win. A lot of teams did it on the cheap using undervalued players. Innovative stat based websites like Football Outsiders and Pro FB Focus are turning out to be right about a lot of things. Teams are payng attention to what they say, not just fans.

    Unlike Gruden and Cowher, Billick has been trying to get back into coaching for yrs, without success. Maybe if he knew something he’d have a job.

  18. dontouchmyjunk says: Jan 7, 2016 9:26 AM

    “I don’t think this is correct as to locally-generated revenue, such as suite, club seating and sponsorship revenues from naming rights, which may be less than national TV revenue being shared but still can be considerable.”

    Those teams might have extra cash but they cannot spend more on players than any other team. The extra money is profit for the owner, nothing more. No help strategically.

  19. riflemanlax says: Jan 7, 2016 9:28 AM

    I would have to say that statistical analysis in football would not be as effective in football as in baseball. However, it could give a slight edge in identifying unheralded prospects for scouts to take a look at, especially in terms of scouting small school prospects for the draft.

    I believe there’s a large pool of FCS, Div II and Div III players not getting good looks. That’s where this would come in handy. It is not nearly as likely to be effective in free agency. But even if it gives a slight boost, any small percentage boost is worth looking at in the NFL.

  20. felcus says: Jan 7, 2016 9:28 AM

    Tell me what you think about Ken Kratz.

  21. vetdana says: Jan 7, 2016 9:29 AM

    I think this whole argument is purely conjecture unless you know just exactly how Deposesta is going to identify and apply his ” Money ball ” Statistics.

  22. clevelandrocksyourface says: Jan 7, 2016 9:30 AM

    Hey Brian, weren’t you fired from your last NFL job?

  23. factman1000 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:31 AM

    They have nothing to lose

  24. hodag54501 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:31 AM

    Thank you, Brian.
    To all the numbers geeks: how many World Series has Oakland won?
    Baseball has always been a numbers business. But to think you can regiment the effectiveness of pro football is another matter. Bob McGinn at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is a complete numbers freak(he’s also ‘old’ by a few of the posters standards).
    His columns have largely become unreadable as he tries to moneyball football. In the end it still is, can he block? Can he tackle? Can he throw the ball? Can he run the ball? Can he catch the ball?
    Remember: you are given only so many minutes in this life. The time you waste looking at endless reams of numbers without context are minutes you will never reclaim. That’s most of what you need to know about numbers.
    Go find a beautiful woman, tell her you love her, and give her a big kiss. Much more rewarding.

  25. dohczeppelin says: Jan 7, 2016 9:31 AM

    Statistical analysis can be useful for forming a “baseline” but I think there are just too many variables in Football for this approach to be very valuable. Look no further than your average free agent signing for evidence.

    Fitzpatrick had terrible stats last year but had a banner year with the Jets. Demarco Murray on the other hand got the rushing title last year but was put to shame by Darren Sproles this year.

    Plus there are only 16 games in an NFL season, which statistically makes for an extremely small sample size. And there are critical injuries for every team, every season, and every team plays different schedules against different types of defenses. I think that makes it extremely difficult to compare one player to the next statistically. The same teams won’t even roll out the same defensive or offensive schemes from one game to the next because you have to constantly keep your opponents guessing and that will throw everyone’s stats off.

    Many of us play this exact stats game every week during the season, and we call it fantasy football. But it doesn’t matter how much analysis you do, you just never know how well a player is going to do. Even the best fantasy players lose all of the time. Too many variables.

    It will be pretty cool if the Browns can pull this off but I think they’re going to be in over their heads with this. I think Football scouting is still going to be a human’s game.

  26. 2since96 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:32 AM

    This will end up being yet another #MistakeByTheLake

  27. tommyribs says: Jan 7, 2016 9:32 AM

    The 49ers built a Super Bowl Roster using advanced Analytics mainly through Paraag Marathe. I know the 9ers are a joke now, but the team they built 6 years ago was not. Advanced Analytics were used heavily by the organization, and they hit on a lot of those guys.

    If used correctly, it is another tool to add to the tool kit.

  28. jgw1980 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:32 AM

    getyourownname

    “The Browns have the same amount of money as a big-market rival like the New York Jets, and the same amount of money as a small-market rival like the Buffalo Bills.”

    I don’t think you quite understand how full revenue sharing and salary caps work.

    The pot is split equally, and every team can spend to the cap limit for that year. All teams in the NFL are on the same exact playing field when it comes to revenues and spending.

  29. charliecharger says: Jan 7, 2016 9:36 AM

    First of all, Moneyball doesn’t work in baseball either. The S.F. Giants don’t do moneyball, and they have the best front office in baseball by far. They scout “character”, and character can’t be measured with numbers. Same thing with the Golden State Warriors. They scout character too. Second, The Browns never hired a good personnel guy to begin with. That was their problem. What they should do is hire a top personnel guy and do the moneyball thing at the same time. Keep track of what works better for the next five years and then move forward. God knows, the Browns can invest five more years.

  30. sidelinecameraman says: Jan 7, 2016 9:36 AM

    Better to try this and fail instead of doing the same thing year in and year out and still fail. If people don’t think some of the execs,gms and coaches have lifted some ideas from baseball you’re just fooling yourself.

  31. awdlmd says: Jan 7, 2016 9:37 AM

    Billick is a dinosaur. There is a reason he is out to pasture.

  32. imodan says: Jan 7, 2016 9:37 AM

    Teams that handle the salary cap wisely i.e. New England seem to have been able to sustain success while other’s who can’t and spend recklessly on big free agent contracts i.e. Miami continue to struggle. I contend that there already exists a form of moneyball in place at some franchises and it’s rather easy to figure out who those franchises are. The one’s who year in and year out remain competitive. They refuse to over pay and are therefore able to build deeper rosters and can overcome the inevitable injuries that all teams must deal with.

  33. bencoates57 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:38 AM

    Why are people making such a big deal out of this. MONEYBALL has not even worked for the Oakland Athletics. What have the A’s done?

  34. billytodd2013blbaad says: Jan 7, 2016 9:38 AM

    it’s the Browns so we all know the result will be another losing season.. so sad because they have such a dedicated fan base

  35. jaxbill says: Jan 7, 2016 9:39 AM

    I don’t see what the big deal is. Browns aren’t the first team to bring in an outsider for analytics. Ask Tony Khan.
    If the Patriots made this move, they’d be cutting edge, though.

  36. haterade999 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:40 AM

    nflrule says:
    Jan 7, 2016 9:17 AM

    Does anybody really care what this windbag has to say?

    ——————–

    Yeah, actually. He’s pretty bright and has no problem speaking his mind. It’s a nice break from canned responses and media bias.

  37. jerruhjones says: Jan 7, 2016 9:43 AM

    After 16 seasons of futility, what can it hurt?

  38. rabidbillsfan says: Jan 7, 2016 9:43 AM

    This won’t work, and it never will work. While I’ve always had an inkling that the NFL is “fixed”, the same argument I use to deter me from thinking that is the same argument I will use here. Football has so many variable, that there is no way to even nail down a “control” to even start some sort of analytics experiment. In Baseball you have very few variables, and almost all of them are easily identifiable. LH pitcher/batter Vs. RH. Different types of pitches. Swinging motion. Also, in baseball, a players measurables actually speak to the type of player he is. There isn’t any of that in the NFL. You have 22 bodies on the field at every given moment, there is such a small chance of extracting real data from what actually transpired that day that it’s almost a waste of time. You may be able to find out what guys fit in what system better, but that won’t mean you are “saving” money. The other variable is game planning. Why did the Bills have such a hard time getting to the QB this season? Scheme was definetly #1, but you could obviously tell the teams that did their due diligence, those were the ones that took advantage and had quick read passing plays and other plays designed to slow down the pass rush. So how do you gauge the defensive player in that regard? To many questions without enough answers for this to work in the NFL. Someday maybe, but definetly not now.

  39. yooperman says: Jan 7, 2016 9:44 AM

    Why waste all money, time, and profits, just ask a homeless guy.

  40. billmiller1991 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:45 AM

    I’m guessing any benefits will be in the form of making good value decisions with the middle 60% of the roster. I don’t think stats will save you from a Clowney, Ryan Leaf, Albert Haynesworth type of disaster.

  41. tennesseeoilers says: Jan 7, 2016 9:45 AM

    “You can’t do Moneyball in Major League Baseball.” ~ Everyone except the Oakland A’s in 2002.

  42. tylawspick6 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:45 AM

    Actually, Belichick and the Pats do Moneyball quite well for the last 15 years winning 4 SBs and forming a dynasty.

    Basically, Moneyball only is a reality because Billy Beane and other small market clubs pretend there is a cap, so they operate under that assumption.

    Billick is just a jealous old nozzle. What a tool.

    I have no idea why anyone would lean on his opinion.

  43. sgmjerry220 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:49 AM

    I was once at a seminar with the guest speaker being Drayton McClain (owner Houston Astros), and he said, “Baseball is an individual sport played by a team”. He went on to say that everything in baseball comes down to individual decisions and individual performance, with a team outcome (run scored, win/loss, etc…). Football is the ultimate team sport, in that it is predicated on offensive and defensive plays, where the foundation of each is upon each individual doing their portion of that play. Gi ven that each team has differnt play books, it would be hard to baseline the statistics to garner any fathom of effectiveness. So I totally agree with both Billick and Gruden, advanced metrics (such as sabermetices) will not be effective in the game of football.

  44. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Jan 7, 2016 9:50 AM

    dontouchmyjunk says:
    Jan 7, 2016 9:26 AM
    “I don’t think this is correct as to locally-generated revenue, such as suite, club seating and sponsorship revenues from naming rights, which may be less than national TV revenue being shared but still can be considerable.”

    Those teams might have extra cash but they cannot spend more on players than any other team. The extra money is profit for the owner, nothing more. No help strategically.
    _______________

    True to a point but the more revenue a team has coming in the more they have available for facilities, training staffs and other ancillaries. They may be things that we as fans don’t give a great deal of thought but certainly they are important to players and coaching staffs and factor into making one team more attractive to be part of than another.

  45. JaminJake says: Jan 7, 2016 9:52 AM

    I love how you skipped mentioning the dodgers because he didn’t do much with them. We Dodger’s fans prefer to forget it too.

  46. fwippel says: Jan 7, 2016 9:52 AM

    Not a Billick fan, but I suspect he is right on this.

    The way players play their positions in baseball is far different than in football. Whether it’s third base, short stop, center field, etc, you don’t have to worry about fitting a player into an offensive or defensive system. Players play their positions the same way regardless of what team they play for. A batter who has a high on-base percentage is going to have that regardless of what team he’s playing on.

    It just isn’t that way in football. The closest thing you have to this is probably the work done to evaluate offensive lineman, and how they pass-block. Each team runs its own offensive and defensive scheme. You can’t take a center from one team one week and move him to another team the next week, and have him start, at least not without him spending every waking hour studying the playbook and the upcoming opponent.

    Leave it to the Browns to run down this road, though.

  47. bencoates57 says: Jan 7, 2016 9:52 AM

    Ultimately, it’s how the players’ skills complement one another. You have a wide receiver like Moss? You need a nifty underneath-over-the-middle-cutting route runner to free Moss up deep (i.e., Welker type).

    The trick is to identify the set of skills that make up a complete player at that position. Then you decide whether you need the person closest to being a complete player (a complete player may be unicorn), but in the end you’re prioritizing the 5-6 skills that make up that position player. For example, take TIGHT END. But you don’t achieve this through the use of characteristics like size or height or arm length or anything like that. You operationalize the capabilities as follows:

    1. ability to avoid tacklers
    2. ability to run through tackles
    3. ability to read coverages and find openings
    4. ability to withstand hard hits over x number of plays (e.g., 3rd downs or every down)
    5. ability to reach for balls thrown high
    6. ability to scoop a low throw
    7. ability to make a diving catch
    8. ability to catch balls in traffic / tight spaces
    9. ability to hold onto balls through attempts to strip or knock the ball loose
    10. ability to gain separation from coverage
    11. running speed after a catch (with ball in hand)
    12. intuitive feel for first down markers / pile ons, sidelines
    13. situational awareness of down and distance

    In the end you assign a player a raw score for each of these capabilities and then after that a separate column to rank the skills in the player. You then check that against a column which ranks the skills in terms of team need. Then your final coefficient tells you how much of a fit that player is for your current system/need.

  48. TeeHeeLOLatPatsHaters says: Jan 7, 2016 9:55 AM

    Baseball is an individual sport disguised as a team sport.

    Football is a team sport, period.

    That’s why SABR analysis works in baseball but it will never work in football. There are too many dependencies and the numbers don’t have nearly as much meaning as they do in baseball unless you look at the team as a whole instead of the individual.

  49. joemammy says: Jan 7, 2016 9:56 AM

    It may work, and it may not.

    But when you consider that Billy Manziel is the main topic of conversation when it comes to the Browns, there is no place to go but up.

  50. Underdawgs says: Jan 7, 2016 9:57 AM

    Actually Brian, it’s already being used extremely successfully in the NFL. See Bill Belichick. An extremely smart and analytical man himself, he also employs an analytics guy. Look at his roster moves over the years. They would be severely questioned if done by anyone not named Belichick. He rarely gives huge paydays to his own aging players nor free agents. In facts he sends guys off in what is supposed to be their primes. He finds undervalued guys all the time and succeeds with them. He’ll sometimes bring in a guy like Revis or Moss but even those moves are strategic and don’t last long.

    Now finding a Hall of Fame qb makes all of this a lot easier to do…

  51. patfanken says: Jan 7, 2016 10:00 AM

    I totally agree with the basic point of the post. Football is fundamentally different from baseball and MUCH harder to quantify statistically because of those differences.

    That being said, this is the Browns we are talking about , and how much worse can this new idea make it. He can’t do any worse the the so called “football guys” who have inhabited the job before him….and he might do even a little better.

  52. justintuckrule says: Jan 7, 2016 10:00 AM

    I could have saved Cleve a few mill. Here. Just make sure everyone on your team has a positive pff grade. No negatives. If you do that, you’re guaranteed at least 8 wins.

  53. dayglo80 says: Jan 7, 2016 10:00 AM

    I have a lot of respect for Billick as I am a Viking fan and he did wonders in the late 90’s with our offense but this is a terrible statement.

    We have seen numerous teams overpay for talent and get hosed by lousy play… Some examples: Albert Haynesworth, Ryan Leaf, Trent Richardson, Ndamika (spelling) Suh, and these are only recent transactions. these types of transactions can be broken out by amount of $$$ being paid per actual contribution and team overall win %.

  54. Kwame F says: Jan 7, 2016 10:01 AM

    Actually your analysis of his work with the Mets wrong. The Mets didn’t win the National League by spending whatever possible. The Mets famously spent less than a big market team would. They actually were 21st in salary heading into the 2015 season. The Mets were good by flipping vets for young, cheap talent that will be under their control for the next 3-5 years. This is a skill that would be valuable to the Browns.

  55. dejadoh says: Jan 7, 2016 10:06 AM

    NFL teams and their GMs are already analyzing hundreds of statistics. Baseball and football are completely different.
    Baseball is all about individual achievement (with 10 times as many games to analyze), football is a team sport, requiring two or more people on offense to work together (center-qb, qb-rb, qb-wr, qb-te, etc.), and that doesn’t address blocking or defense. So Podesta will have to create a lot of data using video, measuring movement and space. Good luck with that.

  56. kevinlawrencecantor says: Jan 7, 2016 10:08 AM

    The Mets were not “moneyball”. They got lucky by having all their pitchers on early contracts. In a few years those pitchers will all have mega contracts.

  57. dietrich43 says: Jan 7, 2016 10:10 AM

    BS. New England has been doing this for years. They have a HoF QB, and then interchangeable parts around him. Look at how many players they have traded or cut when they were near the end of their prime. It’s not that they don’t want the player, it’s that they don’t want the player at that cost. Some of it is based on skill, but a lot is based on position too. They kept shoveling money at NT’s to make the defense work, even though they don’t gather statistics. It’s also why they have rarely paid their o-line; the difference between a guy at $1 mill and $8 mill is probably 1-2 plays a game. Spend the $7 mill on a TE, WR or DB and it makes a difference for 10-12 plays a game.

  58. phillyphan975 says: Jan 7, 2016 10:12 AM

    Actually Mr. Billick…You can quantify the game of football and create a statistical connection. It just takes the brains to figure out the correct measure for each position and value each segment of their job. For example… Let’s look at WR. The obvious stats exist…. Rec, TD, yards, YAC…You then have to value the particular WR position. Is he a deep threat? Is he a slot receiver? How does he block? Is he valuable on Special teams? My point is, you will need detailed criteria for each position and assign a value based on each of those criteria. You would also need some level of value on character and system fit I would assume. I would also look at indirect data such as is this player a support player with a good supporting cast or does he have raw talent?

    Once you do that, a simple algorithm can use all of those stats plus other variables to conclude if a player is worth “his weight in gold”. Will it be right? No, you should not use a statistical model that can not replace gut instinct type behavior, scouting, etc… but it could be used as a tool to factor in when deciding if a player is worth a look or could bring other players that you were not considering to light.

    This, to me, is a competitive advantage over other organizations because all organizations do not do this. So saying it won’t work is incorrect. Will it work to guarantee you have a super bowl contending team? Probably not…Will it work to evaluate talent to build your team? absolutely…

    However, all plausible logic, statistical data, common sense, etc… goes out the window once you mention these tactics will be applied to the Browns organization. Sonny Weaver’s Disney magic would not even work for them…

  59. bencoates57 says: Jan 7, 2016 10:13 AM

    Even Belichick Ball failed in Cleveland.

  60. mrfrostyj says: Jan 7, 2016 10:26 AM

    Trent Dilfer, Chris Redman and Kyle Bowler are all top level NFL Quarterbacks

    – Brian Billick

  61. minson15 says: Jan 7, 2016 10:27 AM

    The Seahawks and Patriots have been using this method for awhile now. The Seahawks have 25 UDFA on their roster currently that are making dirt for their compensation and have been to back to back SuperBowls (obviously winning one) and poised to make another run for a third consecutive run at it. They find players that have special unique talents and mold them into specific roles to make them a great team. Obviously the Patriots have dominated the league for awhile now and the way they keep at the top of their division is impressive.

  62. zampft says: Jan 7, 2016 10:27 AM

    One question of course is whether he’ll even try to do moneyball in football. As a presumably smart guy, he may choose whatever method he feels is best.

  63. firecracker87 says: Jan 7, 2016 10:34 AM

    What if his analysis shows that Haslam should sell the Browns?

  64. chrisk61 says: Jan 7, 2016 10:36 AM

    factory of shame continues. haslam showed a glimpse of competence by firing GM farmer and HC pettine…but that didn’t last long.

    the manziel 1st rd pick pretty much sums up cleve’s management skill.

  65. ravenbiker says: Jan 7, 2016 10:39 AM

    Where analytics breaks down in football is individual players vs team scheme.
    A good example is the Ravens linebackers.
    How many of them have had great stats in Baltimore’s specific defensive scheme (pre Dean Pees) and moved on to other teams to just wind up looking average or below average. Bart Scott is one example. A bigger one is Adalius Thomas, who in Baltimore’s scheme was an outside linebacker that was allowed to freelance and sometimes play as a corner, a lineman or a safety. He left Baltimore for New England and in their defensive scheme vanished.
    Unlike baseball, there are a lot of factors including scheme, team dynamics, etc that can affect stats and make analytics almost useless.

  66. FreewayJim says: Jan 7, 2016 10:48 AM

    Just the other day Bill Belichick had this to say about analytics and he’s spot on.

    “Look, I’ve done things all the way the back to the Giants and before that, doing them by hand. Look, if you’re out there coaching every day and to me, if you can’t see an 80 percent tendency, then what are you looking at? Now, is it 51-49, 49-51? I don’t know. What are you going to do with that? You want to bet on 51, you want to bet on 49 or bet on 55 or 45? At that point, what’s the difference?”

    “I don’t see a big difference and I certainly wouldn’t want to bet on 55 and take my chances on 45. You’ve got to play it straight. But honestly, I think if an experienced coach can’t see 80-20 or 90-10, I don’t think that’s very good.”

  67. starrfavrerodgers says: Jan 7, 2016 10:49 AM

    I think Billick is grossly confusing Sabremetrics (baseball statistical analysis) with “Moneyball”, which applies all information available (including statistical analysis) to idending market inefficiencies.

    If DePodesta can correctly identify what sorts of players are undervalued on the market, he could exploit the same sorts of things the A’s did. If football executives thought the same way that baseball executives did, you would see quite a bit more trade activity. DePodesta may decide to trade assets that may not be around the long-term (maybe Joe Thomas) in exchange for younger players on rookie contracts and/or draft picks.

    For example, he may look at the offensive line and realize that in comparison to skill positions players, they are vastly underpaid. Yet they are crucial for the success of skill players. Is it better to have an elite franchise QB at $25 mil per year and not be able to protect him, or could you spend the same money on a top-flight offensive line (drafting many early on), which will make your entire group better?

  68. ilikethefalcons says: Jan 7, 2016 10:55 AM

    Yes, you can. “The Hidden Game of Football” explored this nearly 30 years ago.

  69. patriotsfootballleague says: Jan 7, 2016 10:59 AM

    New England has been playing ‘moneyball’ for years, with Ernie Adams. Goodbye to the Farmers and Grigsons of the game; greasy snakes with chiefs of staff idiots dealing with playa agent pimps. When the status quo evolves towards progress, there is always resistance in the form of Brian Billick, but resistance is futile.

  70. granadafan says: Jan 7, 2016 11:12 AM

    nflrule says:
    Jan 7, 2016 9:17 AM
    Does anybody really care what this windbag has to say?
    ========================================

    I laugh every time some fool calls out former players and coaches as if they don’t know what they’re talking about. Billick? Well, he’s a former coach in the National Football League and won a Super Bowl. What are your credentials that you can question a guy like Billick? Do you think he suddenly forgot about football? He’s old? So what. He still knows football.

  71. boonevol says: Jan 7, 2016 11:16 AM

    I believe there’s a large pool of FCS, Div II and Div III players not getting good looks. That’s where this would come in handy.
    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Nope, not even D1. Can’t compare stats for college players and expect analysis to help you. there is no basis to compare their college stats against salary.

    I can see it useful for free agents to compare productivity vs. payroll and that is about it.

  72. ctown66 says: Jan 7, 2016 11:17 AM

    dear brian,

    go grab a fresca, a bag of 3d doritos and go play pong on your colecovision and don’t worry about the great football minds of today. 130 year old men shouldn’t be watching football anyway. I’m sure when the forward pass was installed into the game on your 27th birthday you didn’t think that would work either.

  73. nflrule says: Jan 7, 2016 11:17 AM

    For the Ravens/Billick worshipper who dared to challenge me,there is a reason this guy has never been able to get another head coaching gig?If you chose to listen to the airheads on the NFL Network then you don’t know football.

  74. rcali says: Jan 7, 2016 11:28 AM

    Why would any smart person give the benefit of the doubt to Haslem as the owner of a NFL team? Every move he has made has been a disaster. Don’t fall for it smart people!

  75. rje49 says: Jan 7, 2016 11:30 AM

    Underdawgs says:
    Jan 7, 2016 9:57 AM
    Actually Brian, it’s already being used extremely successfully in the NFL. See Bill Belichick. An extremely smart and analytical man himself, he also employs an analytics guy. Look at his roster moves over the years. They would be severely questioned if done by anyone not named Belichick. He rarely gives huge paydays to his own aging players nor free agents. In facts he sends guys off in what is supposed to be their primes. He finds undervalued guys all the time and succeeds with them. He’ll sometimes bring in a guy like Revis or Moss but even those moves are strategic and don’t last long.

    Actually, I listened to Bill do a talk show yesterday, and he stated that although the team has an analytics guy, he doesn’t have much to do with it.
    And as for “bencoates57” above, who listed items on how to rate RBs & WRs, like “ability to run through tackles”- that has an awful lot to do will the ability (and rating?) of the would-be tackler, doesn’t it? That’s why analytics would NOT work very well in football.

  76. jr4real says: Jan 7, 2016 11:33 AM

    I usually dont like what he has to say (maybe bc im a steeler fan) but im glad he brought to the forefront. I do agree with him. And as some have said FB is a team sport. What makes a team play together?

    For an Olineman are you just looking at sacks and team rushing yards? what if you have a terrible running back? yes there are some ways to weigh the dependencies but i think it gets too complicated with 3 units and so many factors.

  77. friscokid49 says: Jan 7, 2016 11:34 AM

    Billick is correct. the 49ers have been building a ‘moneyball’ roster for the last 5 years. look where they are at now.

  78. superpatriotsfan says: Jan 7, 2016 11:41 AM

    “You can cheat in the NFL as long as you deny deny deny”

    -Bill Belichick

  79. PegulaBucks says: Jan 7, 2016 11:41 AM

    Nothing like a guy who cant even sniff an interview in the new NFL telling people what will work.

  80. athwartships says: Jan 7, 2016 11:45 AM

    I think Seattle would beg to differ on that statement. It’s exactly what they did and it led them to a SB win.

  81. ajwill729 says: Jan 7, 2016 11:47 AM

    2 things.

    1. Everyone is baseball said analytics would never work back in the 80s and early 90s, look where we sit now.

    2. Bill Belichick said no to analytics in an interview faster than I’ve ever seen him answer and then dismiss a question. Which leads me to believe he uses it. It’s why he’s succeeded so consistently, and he doesn’t want anyone else using it because it’s his. Very Belichick-esq

  82. Underdawgs says: Jan 7, 2016 11:52 AM

    rje49 says:
    Jan 7, 2016 11:30 AM

    Underdawgs says:
    Jan 7, 2016 9:57 AM
    Actually Brian, it’s already being used extremely successfully in the NFL. See Bill Belichick. An extremely smart and analytical man himself, he also employs an analytics guy. Look at his roster moves over the years. They would be severely questioned if done by anyone not named Belichick. He rarely gives huge paydays to his own aging players nor free agents. In facts he sends guys off in what is supposed to be their primes. He finds undervalued guys all the time and succeeds with them. He’ll sometimes bring in a guy like Revis or Moss but even those moves are strategic and don’t last long.

    Actually, I listened to Bill do a talk show yesterday, and he stated that although the team has an analytics guy, he doesn’t have much to do with it.
    And as for “bencoates57” above, who listed items on how to rate RBs & WRs, like “ability to run through tackles”- that has an awful lot to do will the ability (and rating?) of the would-be tackler, doesn’t it? That’s why analytics would NOT work very well in football.

    Soooo…. he has an analytics guy but he doesn’t have “much” to do with it. So why have him at all? Look… I’m not suggesting it’s all about analytics but when it comes to the NFL, careers are short and strategy is extremely important when building a roster. Great players in their second contracts (outside of QB’s and OL) are already on serious decline athletically. Joe Thomas has been great for the Browns but I can assure he is as good as gone. He only has a few more years and he is still valuable. Get what you can get and move on.

  83. 2mccloud says: Jan 7, 2016 11:53 AM

    Paul Brown, HC of the Browns when they won the multiple NFL championships, introduced film study and playbooks as a tool for success in pro football. Naysayers existed then saying those things will not work. Have to applaud the Brown’s effort with these recent changes.

  84. jim699 says: Jan 7, 2016 11:56 AM

    The focus should really be on determining what kind of players and attributes the market is currently over-valueing and what kind of players the market is under-valuing. That is what Beane used stats to determine.

    He realized that the market was overvaluing guys who hit .300 and knocked in a bunch of rbis and undervaluing guys who walked a lot. Therefore, he could get a good deal on guys who walked a lot and not overpay for .300 hitters who struck out a lot but had a bunch of rbis.

    You can apply the same concept in the NFL and you might not even need statistics to do so. I think a lot of smarter people already know that you don’t need to pay a premium for a top 5 running back if you have a good offensive line. Ergo, maybe try and get a good deal on good offensive lineman and don’t blow the cap on a big name running back.

    Of course when everyone (and we’re a long way from that) understands this, it will no longer be true.

  85. bigwalt2990 says: Jan 7, 2016 11:58 AM

    Football isn’t statistical?….Possibly the funniest thing I’ll read all week…….Statistics go far beyond, TDs/Ints/Sacks/Tackles/etc/etc/etc/etc.

    IMO the NFL should be afraid of this kind of systematic, in depth analysis. In the hands of someone who can make a difference.

    Lions Fan…but go Browns for at-least trying to break though.

  86. jim699 says: Jan 7, 2016 12:02 PM

    starrfavrerodgers says:
    Jan 7, 2016 10:49 AM
    I think Billick is grossly confusing Sabremetrics (baseball statistical analysis) with “Moneyball”, which applies all information available (including statistical analysis) to idending market inefficiencies.

    If DePodesta can correctly identify what sorts of players are undervalued on the market, he could exploit the same sorts of things the A’s did. If football executives thought the same way that baseball executives did, you would see quite a bit more trade activity. DePodesta may decide to trade assets that may not be around the long-term (maybe Joe Thomas) in exchange for younger players on rookie contracts and/or draft picks.

    For example, he may look at the offensive line and realize that in comparison to skill positions players, they are vastly underpaid. Yet they are crucial for the success of skill players. Is it better to have an elite franchise QB at $25 mil per year and not be able to protect him, or could you spend the same money on a top-flight offensive line (drafting many early on), which will make your entire group better?

    —————————-

    I should’ve read the thread before posting. You got there before me and worded it better!

  87. veddermn8 says: Jan 7, 2016 12:09 PM

    Of course you can use some “Moneyball” principles in the NFL, Billick is 100% wrong. Part of Moneyball was using overlooked players in a more creative way that can maximize their talents and build their confidence. How many players have blossomed due to changing teams/ coaches/ schemes? It seems to happen in football more than any other sport!

  88. wallabear says: Jan 7, 2016 12:16 PM

    Not sure about other skill positions in the NFL, but “analytics” certainly do hold statistical significance with regards to the Quarterback position and a quarterback’s TD/INT ratio. So, when a quarterback is paired with an A-level receiver (e.g., Ryan Fitzpatrick-to-Brandon Marshall and/or Eric Decker), a quarterback’s stats do improve in tandem with the better receiver(s) (i.e., Fitzpatrick with Marshall/Decker in 2015: 31 TDs: 15 INTs). During Fitzpatrick’s 4-year stint with the Buffalo Bills/Chan Gailey (HC), Fitzpatrick never attained a 2:1 TD/INT ratio, comparable to his first year herein with the NY Jets/Marshall/Decker in 2015.

  89. jeffreyshulenburg says: Jan 7, 2016 12:17 PM

    It can be applied to the NFL, only to a different level. It can be used to evaluate a big name player vs a nobody and the impact both can make. Take the Bills last year. They could have pursued Mike Iupati last offseason…OR they could sign Richie Incognito the aging OG with a lot of baggage at 1/5th the cost. They ended up being the #1 and #2 OGs according to PFF.

    I used the Bills as an example because the current GM has been trying to do this with some success. Hes signed guys like Manny Lawson, Corey Graham and Incognito to fill massive holes in the roster at 1/4 the price it SHOULD take to do so. Does he keep Jairus Byrd or promote Aaron Williams who was Byrds statistical equal for half the cost.

    The Pats have been playing that game for years. Do they overpay a FA to come in, or do they trust their scouts and go with a rookie or someone they never heard of?

  90. pftbro says: Jan 7, 2016 12:23 PM

    If analytics are not relevant why do we place so much value on QB ratings?

  91. klabuckeye says: Jan 7, 2016 12:49 PM

    Seems to me people are oversimplifying what DePodesta is being hired to accomplish. While his analytics are part of it, the bigger reason is his knowledge of scouting department structure and processes. Clearly, the Browns have a horrible track record in the draft and just changing out GMs has not helped. Until proper systems are installed, it doesn’t matter what method they use to evaluate talent.

  92. crtjr says: Jan 7, 2016 12:57 PM

    I disagree with miamiviking.. that premise would have you cut Eli Manning long before he won a title. While there could be
    some merit applied to some numbers, the greatest factor in the NFL is how well does one play within a unit. This is what
    has made NE so successful on a grand scale without the greatest talent in the world at certain positions. The Browns, IMHO,
    were foolish because instead of focusing their efforts on tried and true NFL practices they again, go off the reservation
    reachinbg for something that is a risk as to whether it would work like they have done with several draft picks… their track
    record spells failure which lends to the idea that the same is about to happen here because you’re mixing the two sports when
    one does NOT apply to the other… The Browns would have been better served had they studied the model of long time successful NFL teams such as Steelers and Patriots and compared that to some recently successful teams like Seattle and Arizona and emulated their processes… What all 4 of these teams have in place are 2 things. A good QB and stable coaching. Then there’s
    the scouting system of all of these clubs that seem to find good players in late rounds. Thus, the first person that would,
    reluctantly come to mind is Mike Shanahan who found both Kirk Cousins and A plethora of running backs in late rounds. See how interested he would be in GM/Coach role then go to a team who’s scouting system has been great and get their best assistant to run your program. Then, commit the the whole process for at least 4 to 5 years regardless of the noise. They blew it when they fired Rob Chudzinski, now they are starting all over again when most NFL laypeople like myself said 2 years ago the Pettine hire was temporary at best and we gave him 2 years back then. So, if lay people knew better, you know the Browns were in for a tough time and here we go again saying this won’t work… I give it 2 years before they begin again, making the Browns dysfunctional and perennial losers.

  93. kissmysandwich says: Jan 7, 2016 1:00 PM

    Brian Billick walked into one of the best defenses in the history of the league and they handed him a Super Bowl ring. This is the guy that lost his career as a head coach because he was enthralled with Kyle Boller. Why is anyone asking him anything?

  94. troylok says: Jan 7, 2016 1:07 PM

    I believe if you have the data, statistical analysis can “sharpen the edge” of scouts and management. I mean, intuitively we know that if one receiver catches the ball 88% of the time, and another receiver catches the ball 40% of the time, we’d probably want the guy who catches the ball 88% of the time. What statistical analysis would do is look and see if that guy that catches the ball 88% of the time only gets thrown to on wide receiver screen passes while the other guy might catch 40% of the deep passes in a cold weather stadium. There are some random factors you can’t predict, though. Will Manziel screw his career up with off the field activities, for instance? Will a player like Megatron retire at 30? Incidentally, I thought the Ravens kind of kicked this concept around a few years back.

  95. graylingskies says: Jan 7, 2016 1:09 PM

    Whoever says intangibles like character can’t be quantified doesn’t understand statistical analysis. Everything that can be conceived of can be reduced to numbers. Computer analytics are as inclusive and dynamic as the imaginations of their programmers. Granted it doesn’t take a phd mathematician to envision why a super athlete like T.O. or a high character guy like Tebow were poor long term team investments, but it does require an understanding of human psychology and its secondary effects on teammates and their psychological reactions or acceptance before it can be put into an equation, and that includes the influence coaches and ownership can have on a program and system. In the end it may not be worth assessing, but at a cost of tens of millions per player or coach it’s def worth avoiding putting oneself in an untenable position from the start (Rex Ryan). If anything, analytics are still an emergent science.

  96. babygaga19 says: Jan 7, 2016 1:10 PM

    Moneyball……………………………….are we talking about Manziel again?

  97. rabidbillsfan says: Jan 7, 2016 1:15 PM

    So NE seems to be everybody’s model for this, but nobody has pointed out that the 3 “big names” in the playoffs this season rank at the bottom of the league in cap space, NE, Seattle, and Arizona, while the Broncos are right there with them. The biggest thing overlooked in all of this is coaching. Baseball is so, how can I put this, “individualized”, that using statistics can help you field a successful team. You can look at every player in a vacuum in Baseball. Answer me this, stat gurus, why did Colin Kaepernick regress so much in one season? He ran largely the same system, he had many of the same players, or same type of players coming back on offense, where is the answer in the statistics? There are more variables in Football that can’t be measured than there is in baseball. On-field relationships, playcalling, etc. are all factors in a players production. If you want to measure something in football with stats, it should be coaching. You can track trends of formations, substitutions, situational decisions much easier and actually back it up with stats. Using this to determine a players worth, and then ultimately craft a roster, will fail more times than not.

  98. watney99 says: Jan 7, 2016 1:17 PM

    In my best Grumpy Old Man voice … in my day, we didn’t do math or analysis to make decisions, we just flew by the seat of our pants … and we liked it that way!

    Anybody with expertise in an area does, at least to some extent, analytics all the time. Ask somebody why they chose X instead of Y, and they will spout off how they applied various inputs (variables) considering some more important than others based on experience (historical weighting) and so forth. The issue becomes trying to remember to apply ALL your own rules, in a consistent and objective manner. Using models in your approach helps you do that, and if you got access to a math brainiac, he should make sure the underlying calcs reflect the rules being applied … and with Advanced Analytics, those calculations become more, well, advanced!

  99. davidzarling says: Jan 7, 2016 1:28 PM

    SPARQ data is extremely valuable. If mined and used in conjunction with more attribution to in-game performance statistics (including new technology -applied anatomy and biometrics), you could see a revolution in football player evaluation.

  100. lukeshow says: Jan 7, 2016 1:32 PM

    Know how I know it doesn’t work?

    The Browns are trying it.

  101. graylingskies says: Jan 7, 2016 1:47 PM

    There are other interesting aspects not talked about, like how fans influence ownership moves. NE fans succeeded in driving Pete Carroll out of New England because he wasn’t the second coming of Parcells. They didn’t think Carroll’s style was tough enough for the pros, and that was mostly the doing of the sports media’s hyping for Parcells. Parcells was brash, flamboyant and he made good copy. Pete was too nice. Kraft liked Pete and was reluctant to make a change but fortunately for New England, Kraft saw what no one else had, that Parcells had never won anything without Belichick on his staff.

  102. jpack1974 says: Jan 7, 2016 2:00 PM

    Why does anyone ask this guy anything? The “genius” hasn’t had any coaching offers

  103. leroysbutler says: Jan 7, 2016 2:08 PM

    Fat Jonah Hill is better than skinny Jonah Hill.

  104. famundacheese says: Jan 7, 2016 2:09 PM

    Once upon a time people said the same thing about baseball.

  105. greeneblitz says: Jan 7, 2016 2:10 PM

    Teams such as the Patriots already use the NFLs version of “moneyball”, it has more to do with when to be aggressive and when to be conservative, high and low percentage plays and players, unfortunately guys like Billick are stuck in the past and I’m sure he still go around talking about “run and stop the run”, “games are won in the trenches” and praises how “smart” coaches are when the punt from the 50 yard line.

  106. killxswitch says: Jan 7, 2016 2:15 PM

    Rest of the league to Billick: You can’t coach in the NFL

  107. psousa1 says: Jan 7, 2016 2:15 PM

    Pete Carroll also took a defending AFC champ to 10-6, 9-7 and 8-8 in his 3 years at NE.

    There was a statistical trend there.

    That being said – Moneyball was also about identifying undervalued assets. You can do that in football. This is where DePodesta can help.

    It’s not like basketball or baseball where if a guy’s stats look like he doesn’t have it anymore – that is usually the case.

    In football a guy can not be productive in one system and thrive in another.

  108. bullcharger says: Jan 7, 2016 2:17 PM

    Football has always been heaving in analytics in the true sense of the word, but it doesn’t break down into numbers the way that baseball does. It is still analytical to watch film and trend player behavior against it. Pure numbers don’t tell the whole story in the NFL because there is too much interaction to be easily quantified.

    A successful running play could happen because a OL made a great block and a mediocre RB ran through a big hole.

    It could happen because an OL missed a block and an elite RB dodged the rush.

    It could happen because a OC called a great play.

    It could happen because the defense lined up improperly.

    It could happen because the nose tackle pulled a hammy.

    You could probably create a list of 100 variables just off the top of your head.

    The key is that the performance of any one player is impacted by the coaching, play calling, effort and execution of most other players on the field. It’s an extremely complex analytical model that can be processed visually by looking at film, but not very easily into numbers.

    Pitcher vs. Hitter is a much easier thing to quantify. Even fielding, throwing and catching can be easily isolated. It’s just not the same.

  109. calvinisthobbesian says: Jan 7, 2016 2:47 PM

    Well, counting practice squads the manufacturers of bats and gloves can sell more than twice as many to a pro football team than a pro baseball team. Of course it’s the Browns so the bats will come in quite handy. Jury is out on this one, but to me the success of a pro football team hinges largely on a knowledge of personnel by the relevant decision makers and I’ve got a hard time believing a baseball guy can come in cold and evaluate talent properly without a long apprenticeship.

  110. dbienko says: Jan 7, 2016 2:50 PM

    Maybe, just maybe he was brought to help the business side of the organization function more efficiently. Even if not, organizing and focusing the scouting/talent evaluation side of the house is needed.

  111. crewchief15 says: Jan 7, 2016 3:01 PM

    Stat’s mean nothing win your franchise QB gets hurt in football. In baseball your most important position (pitcher) doesn’t play every game or for the full 9 innings. So if one pitcher goes down, it hurts, but you have 10 or so other pitchers to turn to or make a trade for one. As we saw with the Cowboys, you lose the guy that touches the ball every offensive down and your screwed. In baseball you do not have to study play books and learn a new language. So in the middle of the season you can throw a new player in the mix because it’s mostly an individual game.

  112. td40 says: Jan 7, 2016 3:19 PM

    The problem I have here is that the people who are being so critical of this approach are acting like the whole analytics thing will be the sole benchmark for who winds up on the field and who doesn’t- end of story. People are acting like DePodesta’s findings are going to be the be-all-end-all of the Browns fortunes (or misfortunes).

    Take a step back and realize that they will use DePodesta’s skill set as just another cog in the machine in conjunction with scouting and every other step. The Browns have been a terrible scouting and talent evaluating organization, and the analytics approach is just going to help sort things out and be a tool to a less than stellar scouting staff.

  113. haslamdrinkshisownpee says: Jan 7, 2016 3:29 PM

    billick won a super bowl with Trent dilfer as their quarterback. No joke, they went 5 weeks without scoring an offensive touchdown that season. He should believe anything is possible.

  114. sbchampsagain says: Jan 7, 2016 3:46 PM

    Sure as hell can’t hurt. Nowhere to go but up. This is the Browns we are talking about here…

  115. jim699 says: Jan 7, 2016 7:10 PM

    The real problem with the hire is not that he’s an analytics guy, but that he’s a baseball analytics guy. Football stats nerds exist. Why not hire one of them?

  116. fanofpft says: Jan 7, 2016 7:18 PM

    Look at how different the game baseball is to football.

    We pretty much know what to expect when a baseball bounces heading toward an INDIVIDUAL player.

    Not so much with a football bouncing around/on a player catching/running the ball with a defender or many other TEAM players involved or maybe in a scrum.

    Then there is garbage time and padded stats. What are they going to do just use analytics from close games?

    I feel some type of stats and compilations of them is needed and warranted. But to delve this deep is just too convoluted and would not be worth much.

  117. andrewdehaas5988 says: Jan 7, 2016 7:26 PM

    If Moneyball is a viable strategy in the NFL, what does that mean for Daily Fantasy Sports? Wouldn’t you say DFS is a fantasy version of Moneyball?

  118. factman66 says: Jan 7, 2016 8:35 PM

    He’s right. It has some value but nothing beats quality scouts. Ask teams that draft well like Pittsburgh or Green Bay, having competent football people is the difference between a draft boom and draft bust.

  119. mellimac says: Jan 7, 2016 9:51 PM

    All sports are getting the moneyball treatment. Get enough data points, and you’ll get someone deriving an algorithm. Problem is, football is a tough nut to crack. So many variables. Baseball is child’s play compared to football.
    Nonetheless, an effort will be made. The game has been digitized…just a matter of time before forecasting is employed. A prime example is weather forecasting…diss the weather forecasters all you want, but their algorithms are getting quite good compared to a decade ago.
    NFL has a lot of money to throw at this…

  120. tralfaz1127 says: Jan 9, 2016 3:30 AM

    It’s bound to work, and it will be in no relation as to whether it is really valuable or was successful.
    The Browns like every other bad team in the NFL have the advantage of the high draft picks, extra cap money as they don’t have great players to pay or reward for championships, and they have been bad (except for one season) since they came back in 1999.
    Law of averages (another mathematical concept) lean toward them finally finding a nut like every squirrel and having some, albeit slight, success.
    My Bengals were the worst team in the 1990’s went 15 years without a winning record or playoff appearance, and finally it changed. The Browns have hit that same time period, and the drafting of good guys (non-knuckleheads) will change thing, and analytics will get the credit it may not deserve.

  121. satchseven says: Jan 10, 2016 3:00 AM

    moneyball going to get the next coach fired in cleveland

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