Jon Gruden is a pure-blood, old-school football guy. He doesn’t have the desire to learn about fancy numbers, those devil digits found in analytics.
While speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine, per Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Gruden said he’s going to leave the studying of that data to other people and bring a throwback mindset to the Raiders.
“Man, I’m trying to throw back the game to 1998. … I still think doing things the old fashioned way is a good thing.
Andrew Siciliano of NFL Media notes Gruden said he’s not going to rely on GPS and “all the modern technology.”
What’s frustrating about the 1998 mindset is current technology simply serves as a supplement to the eye test, which is both Gruden’s preferred method and a pivotal part of any evaluation.
Does that player look tired? Maybe he’s been running harder and farther recently, let’s check the data. Is this player creating enough pressure? Perhaps his box-score stats aren’t a reflection of his true impact. That could be both positive or negative, so let’s measure production vs. internal statistical measures.
Analytics are also valuable for the draft. Prospects need to “check the boxes” for height, speed, acceleration and strength, but teams set their preferred measures. While that doesn’t guarantee success, it helps avoid players who don’t meet the criteria.
Evaluations based purely on numbers can be flawed. But ignoring easily accessible and discernible data is just as foolish, so Gruden must not avoid analytics entirely.
They’re not as scary as they apparently sound.