LA Rams Nerd Nest embrace analytics

(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) /

The LA Rams have a flourishing data analytics department. With new hires O’Connell and Staley, analytics is even more important to the Rams future

The LA Rams are no strangers to Data Analytics. In fact, the Rams have invested heavily in the principals of the entire data analytics movement in the NFL.  Albert Breer of Sports illustrated wrote a masterful piece on the use of analytics in all 32 NFL teams. In that article, the Rams scored as one of the teams most invested in analytics to evaluate new talent. In 2017, the Rams used the tool mainly in the front office, aiming scouts at specific prospects.  Perhaps that is how the Rams find roster players from the ranks of undrafted free agents?

But analytics seldom made it’s way to the field. Or so it seemed in Super Bowl 53. We keep going back to that game because the Rams fielded as much, if not more, talent than the New England Patriots in that game.  But the final score of 13-3 proved that the Rams need to change some things.

How did New England win?  They adapted, guided by an analytics support offering best options based on opponent, down, and distance.  Meanwhile, the Rams lined up with a game plan that would not yield. A tight band of both offensive and defensive plays, never changing as to what worked vs. not worked.

Applied Analytics

You see, analytics has a game by game, play by play application which had not been emphasized by the LA Rams, until now. Hiring Kevin O’Connell as new offensive coordinator and Brandon Staley as the new defensive coordinator changes all that.

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Check out this video about the LA Rams NERD NEST.  It’s great insight into the role of data analytics in modern day football. But the Rams are taking their next steps into giving direct feedback to coaches, and players, on situational analytics. It’s not new in the NFL. But the Rams have the right persons in the right roles to blow the lid off the technology.

The difference between a human analog approach and data analytics comes down to one fundamental element. Humans are creatures of habit. Like it or not, we trend to the familiar. Data analytics constantly learns, adapts, changes. If the team tries short yardage rushing with a 35 percent success rate, human coaches focus on the successes. Data analytics, instead, will point to a 49 percent screen play for the same scenario.

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We’ll look at various aspects of Data Analytics in the weeks ahead. For now, let’s just be grateful that Jake Temme, Sara Bailey, and Ryan Garlisch are passionate Rams employees, willing to help the team from the shadows.

Analytics changes predictability. In 2020, success is more about out-training or out-playing. It’s also about out-thinking your opponents. The Rams are on track to do just that. This could be a fun 2020 season.