Kwesi Adofo-Mensah: Analytics are about asking why in order to make better decisions

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Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has a different background than many people who get hired for that position in the NFL.

Adofo-Mensah worked in the finance world after graduating from Princeton and eventually moved into football with the 49ers in football research and development. That area is often tied to analytics and Adofo-Mensah took on a fuller role involving scouting when he moved to the Browns as their vice president of football operations two years ago.

Analytics still came up often during Thursday’s introductory press conference and Adofo-Mensah said he knows his background is a unique one for a G.M. while adding that he sees analytics as a tool to make the best decisions. He said it is about “being thoughtful and intentional” and “asking why” things are the way that they are in order to make those decisions.

Adofo-Mensah said that process involves both “quantitative research” and “talking to people” in order to make sure that there are no “blind spots” in the decision-making process. He credited time spent studying Bill Walsh’s approach with the 49ers in helping shape his approach to putting together a football team and said he kept a picture of Walsh in his office to remind him that he hadn’t “figured out the world.”

Walsh’s approach worked wonders for the 49ers. The Vikings will be hoping for something similar with Adofo-Mensah at the helm.

31 responses to “Kwesi Adofo-Mensah: Analytics are about asking why in order to make better decisions

  1. Gonna be ironic in 4 years when he looks back and analyzes why he got fired.

    Analytics is statistics.. statistics are based off of reality.. not the other way around.

  2. Okay, so he’s a really smart person, but one who knows about as much about actually playing football as the rest of us. Great.

  3. Its a tool. As with any tool, if be used properly it can help you or you can hurt yourself (and others) with it……

  4. So the Browns traded a first round pick and a first round-pick player for OBJ, and received nothing in return.
    That is analytics.

  5. therealraider says:
    January 27, 2022 at 10:51 am
    Gonna be ironic in 4 years when he looks back and analyzes why he got fired.

    Analytics is statistics.. statistics are based off of reality.. not the other way around.

    5 17 Rate This

    ___________________________________________________________

    Analytics is the science of logical analysis of data and statistics. Analytics is not statistics.

    Anyone who speaks about statistics with such reductionist language has clearly never studied statistics

  6. 1st Question Why did the Vikings hire a walk on Basketball player to be a GM of an NFL franchise?

    2nd Question: Why are all the teams that love analytics sitting at home watching the football teams run by football people play for the Super Bowl?

  7. Hopefully, he can do a “logical analysis of data and statistics” regarding our sixty plus years of futility.

  8. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah: “Analytics are about asking why in order to make better decisions”

    People who don’t understand analytics: “But that’s not the way we used to do it”

  9. Bill Walsh is my “Favorite Alltime” coach even before Vince Lombardi who I love. If Kwesi is a Bill Walsh disciple I love Kwesi!!

  10. If Analytics were a predictive tool it would be an extremely valuable tool. But too bad it’s not.

  11. Who’s the genius above contending the analytic types are all sitting home watching the playoffs — this guy came from the 49ers who have one of the largest analytic staffs in the NFL, McVay and Reid both embrace analytics — are you even paying attention buddy? I’m not saying this guy will be a success, but he has a scouting department and spent the last years as personnel director in Cleveland (and look at their draft success the last 2 years). I’m more worried that he’s not going to trade down in the draft to collect 13 7th round draft picks like his predecessor.

  12. Here’s a quote from Paraag Marathe who developed much of the analytics or trhe 49ers that Mensah is familiar with:

    “Nothing that was developed (analytics) cannibalized our scouting or personnel,” Marathe said. “If it did cannibalize that part of it, I wouldn’t want to be involved in it anymore. Scouting is the lifeblood of the (evaluation process) and it always will be.” -Paraag Marathe 2005

    Bottom line that even the creator of this analytics process knew it was only a tool.

    Marathe was with the 49ers back in 2000; he’s still with the organization today. Introducing analytics back then wasn’t a smooth transition for Walsh and former 49ers GM John McVay who were personnel Consultants to the 49ers. Walsh had picked Terry Donahue to be his successor at GM and it was Donahue that bought in Marathe. Marathe’s first job was to update the old Cowboy’s draft pick value chart created by Gil Brandt in the 70’s. Walsh wasn’t too thrilled but having his trade ideas overridden by a computer. Late when asked about it: “Can a computer help determine who you pick on draft day?” Walsh asked. “I don’t know, maybe it can.” Nowadays every team has a computerized generated draft value chart as well as computer generated data for most aspects of the game.

  13. I watched the press conference and was impressed with this man’s demeanor: humble yet confident; intelligent, but no hint of an “I’m the smartest guy in the room (a la a certain former MN GM) vibe. Let’s give him a chance. Good luck, Kwesi! Some of us are happy and excited for the new direction you’re envisioning.

  14. browns2022 says:
    January 27, 2022 at 11:35 am
    Kwesi Adofo-Mensah: “Analytics are about asking why in order to make better decisions”

    People who don’t understand analytics: “But that’s not the way we used to do it”

    ——————
    Apparently, nobody in the pre-analytics days ever asked a question why? Of course they asked the question why? The difference is that analytics wants to use statistical analysis to answer the question why, whereas people in the past use their 20 to 30 years of lived experience to answer that question?

  15. Analytics can be a good tool if used correctly. The Browns do not use it correctly and he is coming from the same system whose analytics said Patrick Mahommes was a day 2 draft pick. I am sorry Viking fans.

  16. The only advantage of analytics is that it’s a built in excuse for bad play calling. When you run a play that blows up in your face, blame analytics.

    Sometimes you have to go with your instincts and gut feeling. That’s football.

    This guy will be looking for a new job in five years.

  17. KnowsMoreThanYou says:
    So let me get this straight….the Packer fans here are clearly scared. I like it.

    ————————

    Did you use “analytics” to arrive at that conclusion?

  18. Wow I just read the comments. Can we hold off hating him until he has done some work? This is a preliminary press conference for gosh sakes. It seems like someone asked him about statistics and he gave a reply. A middle of the road reply. I am interested in the hires for HC, DC, OC, special teams and O-Line coach. We won’t know really about the GM for a few years when we can look back and evaluate drafts, trades etc. so way too soon to throw rocks at him.

  19. That’s funny because the media and most of the folks commenting think analytics is just “Player X is cheaper than player Y.”

  20. He may succeed or he may fail. But for anyone to make that determination today is ignorant. That goes for all of the GM and coach picks for all of these teams.

  21. So many people sitting on their phones bashing analytics…makes me wonder why they aren’t working for NFL teams…

  22. They guy has smarts. Something the Vikes have navigated too for decades. For example, Zimmer used the same mantra as the previous coach, and the one before that: ball control.
    Keep your D off the field and keep theirs on it using fast running backs, multiple tight ends and fast tall receivers who can go deep once in a while.
    Zimmer was just too much defense and not enough offense to make it work perfectly.

  23. 30 years ago a large segment of football fans would have taken one look at this man and jumped to the conclusion that there’s no way he’s smart enough to be a GM. Now, he’s “too smart” to win at football. Also, the same fans would have rooted for players who look similar to this man on the field, but concluded they were just athletes without the skillset for head coaching and exec positions. Now, the same fans expect playing experience for front office roles, lol. Progress?

  24. Analytics in my opinion only works 50% of the time. You need to have smarts and go with gut, and use the tool of Analytics as a guide to making your final decision and then maybe trying what the numbers say as a whole once in awhile, NOT every time, where you can put you team at a disadvantage. I.E. going for it on 4th down at your own 30 yard line in the first quarter”. Don’t care what the numbers say how often it works, the numbers don’t say you can do it on your 30 yard line. The number as a whole is saying that its successful this percentage of the time….doesn’t give you the parameters of where, the time or circumstance that the game is heading at the moment, etc.

  25. “So the Browns traded a first round pick and a first round-pick player for OBJ, and received nothing in return.
    That is analytics.”

    Timeline:
    March 13, 2019, Beckham was acquired by the Cleveland Browns
    May 15, 2020, Adofo-Mensah was hired by the Cleveland Browns

    Say what you will about KAM and analytics, but he had nothing to do with the Browns trading for OBJ. He was working for the 49ers at that time.

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