Washington coach Ron Rivera discusses analytics on the Rich Eisen Show

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Bryan Manning
·2 min read
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Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera received the nickname “Riverboat Ron” during his time with the Carolina Panthers due to his penchant for being aggressive on fourth down.

Rivera brought that style with him to Washington during his first season in 2020. In an October game against the New York Giants, Washington scored a touchdown with 36 seconds remaining to cut New York’s lead to one point. Instead of kicking the extra point and potentially head to overtime, Rivera went for the win.

Washington was unsuccessful and lost the game.

After the game, Rivera stood by his decision — and so did his players, per Ryan Homler of NBC Sports Washington.

“I think the players wanted to go for it,” Rivera said. “But again, it was my decision.”

Rivera was a guest on the “Rich Eisen Show” earlier this week, and the subject of analytics came up, and the head coach discussed how analytics plays a role in his decision-making.

“I have had situations where when we’ve gone for it with the analytics, and it didn’t happen out,” Rivera said. “And I’ve been told, ‘hey, that’s ok, you did what the analytics said.’ And, to me, I struggle with that because if I do what analytics said and it says nine times out of 10, you are gonna complete it there’s that one time out of 10 you don’t.”

The Washington coach continued to explain his approach.

And, so, how do you know if you’re going to be that one time out of 10 that isn’t successful. There is no guarantee; you can tell me all you want that’s 99%. Hey, that’s good, yeah, but if you’re that 1%. What’s that one time it doesn’t work? Nobody talks about that until it happens.

Rivera’s response was met with disgust from Warren Sharp, one of the pioneers of the NFL’s analytics community.

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In this instance, both parties can be right. Most NFL coaches make decisions based on their gut. Rivera admits he uses analytics, but it isn’t perfect. He’s right.

Sharp is also right. When something says 99% of the time, it is correct, and you tend to make your decisions based on those probabilities.

Washington fans shouldn’t worry, “Riverboat Ron” isn’t going anywhere.