Explaining Haley with Statistics

November 1st, 2010 by Lee Eldridge

Todd HaleyJust a quickie this morning. Happy that the Chiefs beat the Bills and are now 5-2. I mentioned last week that this game made me nervous. More nervous than the game against the Jags. The Chiefs needed a bit of luck but they pulled it off.

Head coach Todd Haley is taking heat from the media and even the fans about his decision making. His penchant for going for it on fourth down in particular. I had a theory about this, but have now changed my mind. Let me explain.

Original Theory: Haley understands that he’s got a team that’s still transitioning from a bad team to a good team. They’re certainly not a great team yet. The team is very well coached (I’ll be writing another post about this soon). The Chiefs have good players, but other than Jamaal Charles, I don’t think they have any great players. If the Chiefs lineup on Sunday and play everything by the book, they’re going to lose some games.  But because they make so few mistakes, it’s allowed Haley to be aggressive and roll the dice with some risky decisions.

New Theory: After reading a couple articles on the Kansas City Star’s site, I’ve changed my opinion. Haley may be unorthodox with his decision making (meaning that he has a different approach than most other NFL coaches), but the numbers seem to be on his side. These decisions statistically are not nearly as risky as conventional wisdom would lead you to believe. And often, Haley is on the RIGHT side of the statistics.

Article 1: Kent Babb was the first to offer a statistical explanation for Haley’s decision in the article Numbers Back Up Chiefs Coach’s Unorthodox Play Calls.

Article 2: Martin Manley writes a great piece here in the Star’s blog Upon Further Review titled Rolling the Dice. Even better than Babb’s piece.

It’s easy to do things by the book. Most of us who follow football know what the book tells us to do. As we can see, coaches come under tremendous scrutiny when they deviate from the book. Coaches like Haley, Bill Belichick and Sean Payton appear to be writing not only a new chapter, but a new book altogether.

One Response to “Explaining Haley with Statistics”

  1. Steve Says:

    Somebody should tell coach Haley he needs to project when doing radio interviews. He sounds way too much like Elmer Fudd.