FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — When the New England Patriots decide to go for it on fourth down, or attempt a two-point conversion, how much does head coach Bill Belichick rely on analytics?
“Less than zero,” Belichick said Friday morning.
Belichick, who is preparing his 3-0 team for a road game against the 3-0 Buffalo Bills on Sunday, was asked the question in the aftermath of a notable decision by Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson on Thursday night. Pederson elected to go for a two-point conversion with 9:12 remaining in the third quarter. The attempt failed, with the Eagles going ahead 27-20 en route to a 34-27 victory over Green Bay.
Belichick was asked, then, if his decisions are based on his gut.
“I’m not saying it’s a gut thing. It’s an individual analysis based on the things that are pertinent to that game and that situation,” he said. “I don’t really care what happened in 1973 and what those teams did or didn’t do. I don’t really think that matters in this game — or ’83 or ’90, pick out whatever you want.”
Belichick then smiled and said, “It’s not really my thing. And I like math, too, by the way.”
The Patriots rely on analytics for other parts of their football operation, such as technology, scouting and contracts. Ernie Adams, one of Belichick’s longtime confidants, serves as the team’s football research director.
On Friday, Belichick’s thoughts on in-game analytics were sparked by a question on older players, such as Bills running back Frank Gore, 36, continuing to have success in the NFL. Belichick was asked whether his view of players and their age has changed due to advances in conditioning, exercise science and nutrition.
“It’s a really good question,” he said. “Personally, I just try to take everything based on what I see, and not try to maybe read too much into other numbers and so forth. As you know, analytics is not really my thing. I don’t know if there’s any set formula or model for what it is today or what it was some other year. I’m sure you could go to some analytics person and they’d be able to give you a great numerical answer on that.”