Patriots are pioneers in using statistical analysis
Unlike Patriots, NFL slow to adopt 'Moneyball' principals
By Seth Bornstein, Associated Press science writer
Hey, you know what's awesome? Reading another article about just how freakin' smart those New England Patriots are. Yeah? You don't say?
And don't look now, but those Patriots are more willing than all those other stodgy NFL curmudgeons to look at the game in a new way.
Excuse me while I barf.
The article mentions that running backs tend to be overvalued in the game, and points to the Patriots as a team that didn't put too much emphasis on this position. This flies in the face of two facts: 1) The Patriots used a first-round pick on Laurence Maroney in the not-too-distant past. 2) The Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since they had Corey Dillon, who was certainly not "just any running back." He once held the NFL's single-game rushing record.
A good deal of the article talks about the statistical research that points to the fact that going for it on fourth-and-2 is worth it. This seems to be a reference to November 2009 when Patriots coach Bill Belichick went for it on fourth down in a game against the Indianapolis Colts. It didn't work, but those statistical slaves -- who focus on process over result -- insisted it was the right decision.
Fine. Whatever. But the point is that the Patriots don't always go for it on fourth-and-2 like stats wonks would like. They don't even usually go for it.
The Patriots have an extremely disciplined front office. They generally avoid paying premium prices for players, preferring more economical options. They are ruthless in the accumulation of draft picks. They also won the Lotto by getting Tom Brady in sixth round.
But Bill Belichick is not Billy Beane. He's not sitting there with some revolutionary approach to analyzing football strategy in terms of down-and-distance like the article's headline would suggest.