NFL clubs can continue to ignore it if they choose, but analytics will soon become even more readily available to all 32 franchises.
NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero first reported on Thursday that beginning in April, the Competition Committee is releasing in-game player tracking data from every player over the past two seasons to every team. Then, in-season, teams will get updated information on a weekly basis.
The ramifications could entirely change the way scouting departments function.
“More new metrics. Understanding if certain fields are slower or faster. Fatigue and injury prevention. Seeing which players are really explosive but maybe don’t make plays because the scheme is bad,” one team’s analyst told Pelissero of a few of the advantages that can be gained by embracing and properly utilizing this newly available data.
Zebra technologies, which generates NFL Media’s Next Gen stats and participated in this year’s Senior Bowl, is the firm responsible for collecting the data obtained by putting tracking chips in players’ shoulder pads. This practice has occurred since 2014, with clubs up until now only receiving their own players’ data.
Now, with the ability to collect additional intelligence on opponents, it bolsters not only coaches’ game planning vs. specific foes but front offices’ files on every player that could potentially hit the open market.
As Pelissero points out, some teams that have been loathe to maximize the massive gains in technology over just the past handful of seasons have fought to curtail this development out of fear in creating a competitive disadvantage.
Our take? Those stubborn clubs already face a competitive disadvantage, and it’s past time to get on board, because the gap will only continue widening between the innovative front offices and old-school ones run solely by "football guys."