Regardless of what he said when the Dallas Cowboys hired him, Mike McCarthy hasn’t embraced analytics
A big reason why the Dallas Cowboys hired Mike McCarthy was because of the time he spent studying analytics and how to incorporate them into a game plan according to Peter King on the Rich Eisen Show. This information King had previously received when he sat down in an interview with McCarthy.
So Mike McCarthy promised the Dallas Cowboys organization and the fans that this year would be different from any season he was with the Packers back when he thought “analytics were for losers” as he claimed during a phone call with 105.3 shortly after he was hired.
After a year of watching Mike McCarthy make poor decision after poor decision based on analytics, I’m not sure why I’m so surprised. He lied about other stuff during his interview to get the job, so why didn’t I think he may be lying about this too?
I’ll take a look at his lack of analytic use in a few upcoming articles showing his ignorance (or, more likely, his refusal) of analytics by looking at two main areas: first down play calling and situational play-calling (mainly 4th down calls).
However, to do that we first need to be familiar with an advanced statistic known as Expected Points Added or EPA, so the rest of this article will be a primer for that. If you are unfamiliar with EPA you can read about it here, or here, but if you’re short on time keep reading.
Basically EPA tries to measure the outcome of an individual play based on how many points the play will gain your team over the course of the game while taking context (field position, quarter, score) into account. EPA takes into account some of the following examples:
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- A gain of 2 yards on 2nd and 2 is actually better than a gain of 8 yards on 3rd and 10
- An interception on 4th and 15 downed at the opponent’s 15 isn’t as bad as interception on 1st and 10 that is returned to your own 20-yard line
- A 59-yard pass to the 1-yard line has more expected points than the subsequent 1-yard rush for the touchdown, regardless of what fantasy football would say, because the pass was worth more to the offense.
So there are the plays that actually change the numbers on the scoreboard, but every individual play has a certain value to the offense (or the defense and special teams actually), and can give a great measure of how every single play contributes to that final score that determines which team wins and which loses.
The last few years of his tenure in Green Bay did not inspire confidence that he was a good coaching hire, but he promised in his job interview that he had changed. As I’ll show show in the forthcoming articles, Mike McCarthy does not care about these (simple) advanced stats and he may just be the same old coach that got fired for underperforming at his last job.
- Published on 01/06/2021 at 12:01 PM
- Last updated at 01/06/2021 at 07:23 AM