DC’s own Tony Kornheiser, of Pardon The Interruption fame, came out yesterday and said that he feels the best next step for the dysfunctional Washington Redskins is to embrace analytics, to try and do to football what Billy Beane did for baseball. His reasoning is one which I think should be used to convince front office personnel more often, even if it’s a risky approach: “How much worse could it get?”
If you’re a team, and this applies to any sport, that hasn’t made the playoffs in a number of years, that doesn’t exactly look poised to take the world by storm, isn’t it worth doing something unconventional to turn the tide (non-McDavid year category)?
If you’re the Florida Panthers, for example, or the Carolina Hurricanes, or the Edmonton Oilers. You haven’t made the playoffs for a while (at least in a full season), it’s not like a radical change of approach is going to hurt your brand at this point. What is holding you back from going all in (and I mean all in) on analytics?
I’ve always said that analytics is an organizational attitude more than it is a single system or a single metric. Going all in on analytics doesn’t mean firing your scouting department or building an alter to the corsi gods. It means scrutinizing every decision you make, seeking information through data wherever that can be achieved, and trying to gain an edge in a very competitive environment with so much parity.
So yes, the Redskins should go all in on analytics. So should every other team, but for a team that’s been woeful for so long, there’s really no risk or downside. Worst case, you’re still bad but you were probably going to be bad anyway. Best case, you win championships, and maybe even change the game.