Bucs’ Dirk Koetter on analytics: I don’t need a bunch of numbers


The Buccaneers are one of many NFL teams that have an analytics manager tasked with using statistics to find an edge, but it doesn’t sound like everyone on the coaching staff is on board.

Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter was asked today if he uses statistical research to prepare the plays he calls. Koetter took umbrage with the question.

“No. I trust my eyes,” Koetter said. “I trust my eyes, OK? I watch the tape. I watch a lot of tape and I trust what my eyes tell me. So I don’t need a freaking piece of paper with a bunch of numbers on there to tell me something my eyes can see. I mean, not to get pissed off, but that whole thing of looking at a piece of paper and telling you how to call a football game is a freaking joke in my opinion. That’s why I watch tape. Half the stuff on that paper, you can sort those stats out any way you want to. But I’m sticking by eyes. It’s worked OK for me so far.”

Whether it’s worked OK for Koetter is debatable: The Buccaneers’ offense hasn’t played particularly well this year. But the 56-year-old Koetter is like a lot of coaches who came of age in the days before Moneyball. He doesn’t understand what all those numbers on that freaking piece of paper mean, and he doesn’t particularly care to find out.

52 responses to “Bucs’ Dirk Koetter on analytics: I don’t need a bunch of numbers

  1. It’s funny to see a bunch of naysaying on the concept of using data to influence decisions around here.

    The coach that is very effective at utilizing data is Belicheck. By all means though, let’s praise the great Dirk for his old school approach.

  2. >So I don’t need a freaking piece of paper with a bunch of numbers on there to tell me something my eyes can see.

    Usually the analytics are there to tell you something you can’t, don’t, or won’t see with your eyes because you have some sort of bias. No, you shouldn’t need a piece of paper with a bunch of numbers on it to know that going for it on 4th and 19 is dumb, but you might need the piece of paper to know that going for 2 every time might actually yield more points over the course of a game.

  3. People try to force analytics in everyone’s face. There are occasions where it can be useful but I don’t want decisions based off that.

    Ex: Marc Trestman calls a field goal late in the 4th quarter on second down with plenty of time left on the clock and timeouts to use but said something to the effect of “percentage wise we were within Robbie’s range and didn’t want to turn the ball over and not have an opportunity. The percentages were overwhelming that we kick it on second down.” (In trestmans nerdy voice).

  4. if Bill B from the pat’s were saying this I would be in his corner but you have a perennial loser saying this means you have a problem, no open mind

  5. Bottom line is players win games in the NFL. Good coaching prepares players for specific game situations, if coaches game plan as good as Bellicheck. But the reality is, players win games. Bellicheck and Pete Carroll were average coaches who got fired on bad teams. Put them in good situations and they are great coaches. Give Tom Cable a QB like Tom Brady and he will win 10 games for a decade. It’s really that simple. Put Bellicheck as the head coach of Cleveland or San Fran right now and he will be 8-8 at best.

  6. The problem with analytics and football is sample size. In baseball hitters see the plate 700-800 times a season or more. Pitchers throw 2000-3000 pitches. Players sign 7-10 year contracts and play 20 years. This yields huge data banks. In football players play 16 games a year and the average career is 4 years. A player may only see a given scenario a couple of times his entire career. As in the two point conversion example above over 1000 touchdowns in may break down that you will score more points going for two but are you going to score 1000 touchdowns in a week? What if you are playing the Seahawks in Seattle, you may only get in the end zone once, so what if you convert at 75%? You’re not going to get a representative sample on that day so your gut does in fact matter.

  7. Dirk is a good prospect for the unemployed former coaches line. Comments like that tell me: – (1) he thinks knows everything
    (2) he is not open to using data to learn
    (3) he is not abreast of developments in modern coaching where heavy emphasis is placed on analysis of key metrics. Eg I understand that Gary Kubiak has his top analytics guy talking the percentages and key metrics in his headset.

  8. Wrong. Teams and League tend to hire a specific type of guy for these analyst jobs: white, male, preferably Ivy education. How many of those guys understand the grit needed to excel in sports? How many of them understand the depth of sacrifice it takes to reach elite levels of sport, especially for an athlete who comes from a socioeconomically disadvantaged background? NONE. There is value in stats, but until teams attempt diversity and employ people who can relay the stats findings to coaches in a way that makes sense, analysts will remain largely a waste. Ultimately, a good scout and a good analyst should come to similar conclusions using different means–that’s when it works.

  9. Sounds like those right wing nuts trying to argue against science in the GOP Debate last night…

  10. I don’t hear any reasonable coach saying data and analysis should replace what they see. What they say is it can augment their eyes/memory which is not as good as you age and might be useful. To dismiss a tool that could have advantages is short-sighted.

  11. Dirk was such an excellent head coach for us when he was at ASU, we were really sad to see him go.

    – University of Arizona Wildcat fans (ASU’s blood rival.)

  12. Trying to take every LEGAL advantage to win is a good thing, but people tend not to trust what they do not understand. People also tend to overstate the value of the next new thing.

  13. Dirk is a fundamentals guy and that is exactly what a young smart/dumb 21 yo Jameis needs.

    Dirk will not rely on stats alone at this stage as the development of the qb will set up this franchise for years to come.

    Believe it or not, Tampa was one of the first NFL teams to introduce ipads to every player.

    Also, they are one of only two franchises that use SIDEKIQ simulator football software as a supplement to their on-field work for quarterbacks.

    Must a be a slow news week…Jerrah and the woman beaterz-cowboyz need a distraction before getting bitchslapped by a rookie qb!

  14. People who say “statistics are for losers” are losers.

    We quantify a team’s performances to determine their strengths and weaknesses. They do if you look at them correctly, moreso than just eyeballing plays.

    Of course, if you don’t know how to interpret them, then yeah, keep saying “statistics are for losers.” At least it’s got a ring to it.

  15. Just another reason why his offenses the past few years have been under 500…. The Bucs are great at hiring horrific employees…

  16. Old stats saying; “statistics are like light posts…you can either use them for illumination or as something to lazily lean against”. Apparently coach Dirk doesn’t want to use them for either purpose.

  17. The analytics guys were the ones trying to tell us that the Seahawks made the correct call on the 1-yd line in the Super Bowl.

    Hellouttahere with that stuff.

  18. Leading the league in fewest 3 and outs, 7th in rushing yards, 10th in yards per play and 14th in yards per game with a rookie QB isn’t playing particularly well? You gotta be kidding me…

  19. I don’t think he meant he completely ignores statistics but was simply saying studying film is the most important part. The numbers can only tell so much.

  20. He ought to get on the bridge and go see what the boys in St Pete are doing. The Rays are heavily investing in sabermetrics, and go toe to toe with the Yankees and Red Sox every year, and have made the playoffs 4 of the last 6 years. If they can beat the Yankees and Red Sox, Koetter ought to be able to beat the Falcons and Panthers.

  21. Actually, the Bucs’ offense hasn’t scored this much in years, if ever! Our running game is greatly improved, Jameis has no interceptions in the last 4 games, I think Koetter is doing a great job. Now if the defense would catch up, and Evans would catch the balls thrown to him, we might have a pretty good team.

  22. “The Buccaneers’ offense hasn’t played particularly well this year.”….This is completely untrue. If our D and ST played even close to as well as our O, we’d be at least 6-2.

  23. I can see how it could be an aid on the defensive side of the ball because you could see play call trends based on down and distance, or a team runs 75% of the time on first down. However on the offensive side, there is just too many variables to account for because the defense switches personnel deployed for every play counter to the personnel the opposition puts on the field. Way too many variables to have reliable stats.

  24. Just more nerds trying to get into the game by using math this time. Guys, let it go. You couldn’t play football as a kid. I couldn’t do math as a kid but you don’t hear me trying to tell you how to forcefully apply your pencil to a piece of paper.

  25. obviously they are doing everything right, just look at their record. god forbid a coach in this league is humble enough to change and adapt to the competitive landscape instead of being so friggin hard headed that his way is the only way. oh wait, he works for lovie, rex is our qb / we get off the bus running no matter who we are playing / we wont fix the o line / we wont blitz to get pressure / devin hester is a true #1 line up outside the numbers wr, Smith. got it, makes sense now.

  26. Bill Belichick and Ernie Adams are probably laughing their heads off at this statement (actually they are more likely breaking down game film of the Giants and analyzing the schemes they employ, but I digress). The analytical system that Bill and Ernie developed together has been instrumental in their success because it identifies the play-calling tendencies of their opponents, allowing them to better prepare their team in practice for what they are likely to see on the field (such as the red zone pick play Seattle tried to run at the end of the Super Bowl).

    However, analytics should not be confused with statistics, after all, Bill is the one that said “Stats are for losers”. Analytics focuses on the tendencies of one’s opponents to better understand how they are likely to respond to a given situation, whereas statistics are simply a pissing contest to see who has the biggest numbers that don’t necessarily correlate to wins and losses.

    Bill doesn’t care who has the most yards in the league, but he does care about which QB’s are most likely to throw the ball in a 3rd & short situation.

  27. Offense hasn’t played well? Lmfao at how much of a dumb ace you sound. A football team that has a rookie QB, their center out all year, their RT out all year, their TE out all year, Their starting WR out, and slot WR….this team has increased their ppg, ranked 7th in yards per game rushing, tied for 10th sacks given up even with all those injuries and two rookies starting on the line BUT NO his doing terrible. SMH and LMAO

  28. I watched the interview and Dirk wasn’t asked if he “uses statistical research to prepare the plays he calls”, the question was “are you just not a stats guy?” and he responded “ehh no (as in not necessarily), I just trust my eyes.” He was basically saying film is most important to him but never said he doesn’t use stats at all.

  29. Leave koetter alone he has been great. Lovies defense on the other hand could use some saber metrics

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