Could AI Technology Help NFL Coaches?
Seven new head coaches will be embarking on the new NFL campaign when the 2021 season begins. There is always a great deal of turnover on NFL staff due to the failures of past regimes. Therefore, the new men in charge will be desperate to make an immediate impact, although that can be a tough proposition given the task of reviving the fortunes of struggling franchises. The new intake will need all the luck and the right analysis in the palm of their hands to make those tough choices on the sideline, and in some cases in the front office.
The NFL has gradually increased its reliance on statistics, although baseball is far ahead in terms of its use of data and has been for a long period of time. The game of baseball lends itself more to the use of statistics, as many people will have seen in the movie ‘Moneyball’. Key components of players were identified by Oakland Athletics’ Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta, allowing them to gain an edge over their opponents, which improved the Athletics’ record and bank balance in the process.
As technology continues to become more sophisticated, it has allowed sports to spread its wings into new avenues. Artificial intelligence has now made its way into the UK horse racing community, for example, where bettors now have access to all the information about the leading horses, jockeys, and trainers in the field. AI tools such as BethBet provide information on a number of criteria, including form, pedigree, the ground, and weather on the day to help punters choose who to back. It’s an extremely useful tool in the arsenal of a fan, but AI could also be deployed elsewhere in sport, specifically in coaching.
Analytics and statistical knowledge have never been more important in the NFL to gauge the performances of players and to make split-second decisions for calls on the field regarding strategy. Successful coaches have allowed statistics to become an important component of their tactics on and off the field. Bill Belichick is renowned for the use of statistical advisor Ernie Adams, who retired in the 2021 off-season.
However, different hierarchies of NFL teams search for different characteristics in their coaches. The Detroit Lions went for the brawn and brash talk of Dan Campbell after the statistical and silent approach of Matt Patricia failed to deliver results on the field. The Los Angeles Chargers went for young and defensive in the form of Brandon Staley following the end of Anthony Lynn’s tenure.
Who knows? In the future, a program could be even created to break down the strengths of a roster and that of the coach in question to select the best candidate.
Belichick, for instance, could rely on AI to help him make vital calls regarding formations or fourth-down decisions. As the most successful coach in NFL history, Belichick has been a proponent of statistics and may not sniff at the idea. Others in the field could also use all the help they can get, especially the seven embarking on their first seasons under the spotlight.