Patricia: Analytics helpful, but the tape doesn't lie

Posted Mar 8, 2018

Head coach Matt Patricia said analytics will play a part in his evaluation process, but it won't be the end-all, be-all.

There is a lot of data NFL fans, decision makers, coaches and even players can consume nowadays in the form of analytics. There are websites like Pro Football Focus, Football outsiders and even features like Next Gen Stats in addition its regular stats package.

Teams will soon receive data from the chips sewn into players’ jerseys that tracked things like distances ran and speed -- Another form of analytics for teams to sort through.

There are some teams that are very analytical in their approach to player evaluation and weekly matchups. Others are more old school.

“Man, I'm trying to throw the game back to 1998,” Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said at the Combine. “As a broadcaster, I went around and observed every team, asked a lot of questions, took a look at the facilities, how they're doing business, there's a stack of analytic data or DAY-tuh, however you want to say that word, people don't even know how to read it. It's one thing to have the data – or DAY-tuh – it's another thing to know how to read the damn thing.

“So, I'm not going to rely on GPSs and all the modern technology. I will certainly have some people that are professional that can help me from that regard. But I still think doing things the old-fashioned way is a good way, and we're going to try to lean the needle that way a little bit.”

Where does Lions new head coach Matt Patricia stand on the subject?

“It’s a buzzword, right? Analytics, everyone wants to talk about it, but I think analytics have been involved in football forever,” Patricia said. “We call them tendencies. That’s all it was before and now it became analytics.”

Analytics will always be taken into consideration as a piece of the overall puzzle in terms of player evaluation and week-to-week matchups, Patricia said.

But for a coach with the kind of reputation he has for film study, even revolutionizing the way the Patriots organization studied tape when he was a young assistant coach there, that will always be the biggest evaluation tool for him.  

“I think all that stuff really is used as a tool to help us, whatever the process is, whether it’s game-planning or in-game decisions or whatever it is,” Patricia said at the Combine. “I don’t think it’s a final, end-all, be-all answer.

“Some of that stuff has got to be the feel of the game. And that’s one of the reasons why you play the game and you coach it, because sometimes you’re going to be looking at another guy or one of your players and the analytics may say one thing, but you’re looking at your guy knowing this guy can do this, this guy is going to handle this situation and I trust him to do it and you put him in the situation to go do it and he does it.

“I think the biggest thing again, don’t ever get away from the bottom line is watching the tape. The tape, as we say, doesn’t lie.”