Top 5 Quick NFL Team Fixes brought you you by SIS Rookie Handbook

The 2020 SIS Football Rookie Handbook, only two years in its existence, has immediately become a yearly “must-order” along with the Football Outsiders Almanac for any analytics junkies. Most of the 518 pages of Advanced Statistics goodness is dedicated to the incoming Rookie Class, but it also includes short sections breaking down every team and its “statistical identity”. Things like personnel groupings, percentage of zone/gap plays and how often a team split their coverage between man and zone (all with relative rankings to the rest of the league, and analytically how well a team performs in all). 

There is a ton of information to glean from these simple, yet robust team pages, but I have found the top 5 quick fixes, based on tactics employed/success that teams can implement on day one:

1. Texans should call more zone runs (vs. Gap)

Although the Texans called the highest ratio of Gap runs, 62% they were not very good at it, ranking 22nd in Expected Points Added/Play (EPA/P). They called zone runs the least of any team in the NFL yet ranked 5th in EPA when they did.

2. Jaguars just need to hire an analytics guy…

The Jaguars ranked 32nd in calling motion, and 32nd in calling play-action. Two “analytics cornerstones” are how much more efficient play-action passes, and pre-snap motion plays are vs. drop back and static plays. Not surprisingly, the Jaguars ranked 4th in the rare times they did employ play-action, yet 23rd on dropbacks. 

3. The Jets should play more Base defense

The Jets defense was pretty good overall, but a quick improvement: utilize more Base (18% ranking 28th in usage) and less Nickel (77% ranking 2nd in usage). Although the Jets were a stout 9th EPA/A in Nickel, they were 1st when they lined up in Base.

4. Seahawks should do the opposite

Seattle was 1st in sending out their Base defense, resulting in the 21st ranked EPA/A. Nickel wasn’t much better at 31st EPA/A, yet their Dime package, used 22nd most, was the best in the league. 

5. Eagles need to examine why a unique phenomenon is happening on their Defensive Front

*This one is too weird to explain without a chart.

RushersPct (Use)Rank (Use)EPA/ARank
33%29th-0.651
475%5th0.0416
511%30th-0.175
6+10%4th0.3730

The Eagles rush 4 and 6+ alot and are average to bad at doing so. They rarely rush 3 or 5 yet are very good/the best at it.

Bonus:

I think the NFL knows how to beat Gruden and his Raider’s Gulf Coast attack. Play Zone. The Raiders offense faced the highest amount of zone, and therefore least amount of man. Their offense vs Man was the best/1st in the league .39 EPA/A, yet vs zone 19th at .04 EPA/A. Shallow 2 y Banana does eat up Man coverage.

If you haven’t already, treat yourself to the Analytic’s best friend before Thursday’s draft, get yourself your own copy of the 2020 SIS Football Rookie Handbook.

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