New Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden is embarking on his first season on the sidelines since 2008. The NFL has changed greatly in a decade and one of the biggest things at the coaching level is an increased focus on analytics. Speaking at the NFL Combine this morning, Gruden made it clear that he’s not ready to embrace this brave new world with open arms.
“There’s a stack of analytical data, however you want to say that word, that people don’t even know how to read it,” he said. “It’s one thing to have the data — or data — it’s another thing to know how to read the damn thing. So I’m not going to rely on GPSes 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. We’re going to try to lean that way a little bit.”
There’s two ways to hear this. The cynical way is to dismiss Gruden as a dinosaur totally disinterested in the trove of available information. It’s not entirely difficult to see the former ESPN analyst as a relic from the past stuck in his ways.
The second is to appreciate his honesty. He did say he’d have experts looking into the numbers with the implication he’d possibly use what he found to be relevant. One wonders how many current NFL coaches pay lip service to the analytics but have no idea how to use them behind the scenes.
Either way, the comment gives fodder to those who want to criticize Gruden the first time he ignores conventional sabremetric data in favor of an old-world and traditional way of doing things.