The NFL is changing, and it's something that has become very evident to all of us who follow it. With more and more advanced analytics at the disposal of so many, some NFL teams have embraced the new advances as additional help. Some teams, however, haven't really embraced them yet.
I'll give you one guess as to which category the Colts fall in. Yeah, you guessed it, they're skeptics.
ESPN recently released a very in-depth look at the four major sports leagues (the MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL) and looked at how much each team used analytics. It's a study that's worth your time, but we're going to focus primarily on the NFL and on the Colts.
Though no teams are labeled as "all-in" on analytics in the NFL, there are nine teams that were labeled as "believers." Seven other teams were labeled as having one foot in the door. And then twelve teams were labeled as "skeptics" while four were "nonbelievers." The Indianapolis Colts were one of those twelve teams skeptical of analytics.
The Colts are among the NFL teams that use Catapult's GPS technology during practice, allowing them to monitor exertion and conditioning. Coach Chuck Pagano said, "We understand there are going to be injuries; they're part of the game. But by using these techniques, we can eliminate some of the soft-tissue stuff, the groins, the quads, the hamstrings."
Otherwise, under general manager Ryan Grigson and Pagano, the Colts operate as traditionally as any team in the league.
Grigson is a former NFL player who fully trusts conventional methods of player evaluation: tape and instincts. Pagano, meanwhile, routinely has been criticized for punting in fourth-and-short situations, passing up the opportunity to further employ the versatility of quarterback Andrew Luck in an attempt to maintain a field-position advantage. The Colts, in short, do not buy in.
Does this really surprise anybody? The Colts don't like blogs or internet sites, they don't like analytics, and they still want to be a team that runs the football and stops the run. If this were 1995 instead of 2015, they'd fit right in. But in 2015, the Colts are not embracing these advances. Obviously, they're doing a solid job of building the team now (though that's thanks mostly to Andrew Luck) and came one game away from the Super Bowl a year ago, but it's fair to wonder how they might be helped by embracing some of these analytics.
Look, theses analytics aren't everything, and frequent readers know that I don't place them above everything else, especially film. But it wouldn't hurt at all for an NFL team to use them without putting so much weight into them that it becomes everything. As another resource, it can be valuable. It can really come in handy in a number of situations. But, you know, I guess the Colts can do whatever they want. And I don't think it surprises anyone that the Colts are skeptics when it comes to analytics.