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NFL number crunchers

Here's an interesting column from the Sporting News about the use of statistical methods in the NFL. Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil was one of the early adopters, apparently influenced by the late George Allen. And add another economics major to the list of analytical coaches, Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz:

Schwartz, who received distinguished economics graduate honors at Georgetown, where he played linebacker for four years, has spent some of his free days this offseason doing regression analysis studies on when to accept or decline penalties, when to take safeties and the significance of sacks. He has networked with Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta, a cum laude graduate of Harvard who is a leader in baseball's statistical movement, and Internet stats geeks. His references include a probability study by a Rutgers statistician and a dynamic program analysis by an economics professor from Cal, as well as Moneyball, the book about Beane's unique reliance on statistics.

'I've spoken with (NFL) general managers about Moneyball and some of them have read it, but they don't know what to do with it,' Schwartz says. 'Football people don't have the mathematical side. A lot of it runs counter to traditional NFL thinking.'"

Schwartz would appear to have the benefit of both traditional and analytical thinking. A coach to keep an eye on, perhaps?