Jon Gruden seemingly not a fan of analytics, wants to 'throw the game back to 1998'
Jon Gruden wants his Raiders team to be more old-fashioned
It's been quite a while since Jon Gruden stalked the sideline as an NFL coach. While Gruden's been broadcasting games for ESPN, the league has undergone a statistical and analytical evolution that has had a major impact on the way the game is played, scouted, and covered both on television and online.
Gruden is back in the league as a coach now, though, and while much of the rest of the league is moving forward (and the league itself is considering releasing a treasure trove of data to its member teams), he doesn't seem gung-ho about getting his Raiders in on the action. Asked during his NFL combine interview about analytics, Gruden let on that he's going to try to move the game backwards.
There is really no way around saying it: this is a bad idea.
All analytics are is information. Anyone deliberately choosing to have less information than their competitors is willingly putting themselves at a disadvantage. It's good that Gruden is willing to let "some people that are professional" help him from that regard, but the idea that he's going to throw the game back to 1998 and beat teams that are using information to move the game forward flies in the face of history.
The reason the game is always changing is because the smartest teams in the league use all the information at their disposal to innovate and find new ways to win, and then everyone else tries to follow their lead. The team that changes most often, the Patriots, has been to eight Super Bowls this century, winning five of them. The team with the most forward-thinking offense and most aggressive coaching style in football, the Eagles, just won the Super Bowl.
If you think about the teams that have had extended cycles of contention over the last 15 years or so, all of them have innovated and reacted to new information in some way. The Peyton Manning-era Colts spread out the field with more wide receivers than other teams of their era, forcing defenses to cover more areas of the field than ever before. The Seahawks saw a market inefficiency with bigger defensive backs and "tweener" defensive linemen and built one of the best defenses of the modern era. The Patriots have been at the forefront of seemingly every league innovation since Bill Belichick took over.
If there is one thing that has been through throughout all of history, it's that we can never go back to the past. Gruden would be wise to embrace the future with the Raiders, or there will likely not be as much success as he hopes.
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