Analytics To Assist Kliff Kingsbury’s In-Game Decision-Making

Kliff Kingsbury coaching Texas Tech from the sideline in 2018.
Kliff Kingsbury coaching Texas Tech from the sideline in 2018.

Kliff Kingsbury will have countless in-game decisions to make this fall, and the first-year NFL coach is hoping to be as well-equipped as possible to make those snap judgments.

The Cardinals plan to have a member of their team sort through probabilities during each game, giving Kingsbury data-based feedback when key situations arise. It’s become more popular in the NFL in recent years as teams attempt to optimize when to go for it on fourth down, when to try a two-point conversion, when to use timeouts and when to make other critical calls.

Rams senior offensive assistant Jedd Fisch assumed a role like this in 2018, and the Panthers named Sam Mills III their game management coach earlier this offseason.

“I don’t know if he’ll have an official title, but we’ll be covering those same bases,” Kingsbury said.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the presence of Mills in his headset is a valuable resource in the fast-moving pace of games.

“It’s very good,” Rivera said. “Sometimes they have to snap you into the moment, as to trying to decide and pull the trigger on something, or to have someone say, ‘Hey, Coach, just go on to the next play.’”

Kingsbury will take into account the flow of the game when making his calls. He said his thinking has often been in lockstep with the percentage plays in the past, but is willing to go against the analytical advice if he doesn’t feel like it’s the right choice in a particular situation.

“You want all the information you can get to get the best decision possible,” Kingsbury said. “But at the end of the day, it’s going to be your call, and if it’s a gut decision and you feel like it’s the right thing for the team, you’re going to make that call.”

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