Summary of “The Philadelphia Eagles’ secret weapon? An analytics-fueled attack”

PHILADELPHIA – The decision made in this moment can be the difference between a win and a loss, but coach Doug Pederson knows that when the light is green, you go.
“Nobody goes for it like Doug Pederson does,” Cris Collinsworth said during Saturday’s broadcast of the divisional-round game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer rattled those numbers off the top of his head when speaking to reporters via conference call Wednesday, a sign that the Eagles’ fourth-down prowess is on Minnesota’s mind.
There is plenty of credit to hand out for those numbers, including to the defense for routinely answering the bell, but a big slice goes to the analytics department – overseen by vice president of football operations and strategy Alec Halaby – for understanding situational odds and playing them to their favor.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has long had an analytics team in place; the desire for an optimal fourth-down strategy is not new.
Philadelphia has gone for it on fourth down more than any other team in the NFL since Pederson became head coach last season.
Under Schwartz, players are required to know the maximum amount of plays left in the half or game based on time remaining, and the point where the opposition needs to advance the ball to be in field goal range – a variable that changes week-to-week based on the leg strength of the kicker.
Schwartz downplayed the role of analytics a bit this week, noting that it means less than things like guys “Playing with personality,” tackling well and playing fast.

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