It took Paul DePodesta some time to get his way with Jimmy and Dee Haslam.
But when the Cleveland Browns‘ chief strategy officer finally hired Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski, it was with analytics in mind.
And when fans called for change after a 2-4 start, DePodesta’s team didn’t fire coaches or cut players.
Instead, they announced the addition of 2 new minds to their analytics department.
Analytics transactions: Browns are hiring two new analysts, Brenan Latimer and Austin Grosel, per source.
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) October 17, 2022
One might hope these brilliant folks will help Stefanski see the forest from the trees.
Because there is a glaring, simple fact that the head coach ignores every Sunday.
It is this: When Nick Chubb runs the ball 20 or more times per game, the Browns win.
And it doesn’t take much more analysis to see what happens when Chubb rushes fewer than 18 times.
Some Things Are Just Too Obvious
Cleveland.com’s Hayden Grove posted a little tidbit about the Browns’ usage of Chubb so far this season.
Basically, the Browns are 2-0 when Chubb had 20+ carries and 0-5 when he has fewer than 20.
That prompted us to take a look at how Stefanski used Chubb in his first two seasons.
We even lowered the bar to 18 carries in deference to Stefanski’s efforts to save some wear and tear on his star.
The Browns are 2-0 when Nick Chubb gets 20+ carries.
The Browns are 0-5 when Nick Chubb gets less than 20 carries.
— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) October 24, 2022
And since the beginning of 2020, Cleveland is just 5-8 when Chubb rushes fewer than 18 times.
With 18 or more carries by Chubb, the Browns boast an 11-2 record.
And in one of those losses, the team scored 42 points.
For the analytics gurus, Cleveland is 260% more likely to win if Chubb gets 18 carries in a game.
Giants Offer A Practical Application
Saquon Barkley has been hurt more than healthy for the past two seasons.
But this year, the New York Giants hired former Buffalo offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as head coach.
Despite Barkley’s injury history, Daboll lets Barkley run an average of 21 times (and over 100 yards) per game.
New York lines Barkley up all over the field, even taking direct snaps in a wildcat package.
Nick Chubb in the end zone – what else is new? pic.twitter.com/FMtcB94Bqm
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) October 23, 2022
Daboll has the Giants off to a surprising 6-1 start, including 5-0 when Barkley tops 20 carries.
And the coach makes no bones about how much his offense needs their stud on the field in order to click.
But Daboll’s counterpart in Cleveland prefers to keep his best dawg on a tight leash.
And the Browns’ best shot at salvaging this season might depend on loosening things up for Chubb.
Other Lessons Ignored By Stefanski
Stefanski ignores another of the NFL’s oldest data points.
That is the team that scores first usually wins.
One study by Elias Sports Bureau in the early 2000s showed that a team grabbing a 3-0 lead wins 59% of the time.
But Stefanski constantly bypasses opening drive field goals to go for it on fourth down.
3rd and 2. Game on the line. They threw deep. And Nick Chubb was on the bench. Can't fix stupid.
— Aaron Goldhammer (@HammerNation19) October 23, 2022
While it is true that a 7-0 lead earns a 71% chance of winning, a team with a 10-0 lead wins over 80% of the time.
And you need that field goal to get to 10.
One other idea Stefanski might pick up from New York’s Daboll is more subjective.
Despite his offensive pedigree, Daboll lets his offensive coordinator (Mike Kafka) call plays on gameday.