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Jerry Jones Weighs In On Analytics Debate


FRISCO, Texas -- Analytics against conventional football wisdom: the debate rages on.

In the aftermath of Sunday's 13-9 loss to New England, one of the week's biggest sticking points has been the Cowboys' decision to kick a field goal from the Patriots' 11-yard line while trailing by seven points with six minutes to play in the game.

"This keeps you in a more manageable situation if they do kick a field goal, it still would only be a 7-point game," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on Monday. "Biggest thing you try to do there is make sure you give yourself an opportunity to come back the other way."

In Garrett's defense, that's exactly how the situation played out. But for every traditional decision in a football game, there are just as many people who look at numbers like win probability and expected points added and come to the conclusion that the Cowboys stood a better chance of winning had they gone for it on fourth down while they were already in the opponent's red zone.

Garrett rebuffed that thought process Monday evening when he told reporters that, while he values the role of analytics in football, he doesn't consult those numbers during the course of a game.

"Just not something that we think is best for our team," he said.

For his part, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones seemed to agree with Garrett's preference. Asked about it during his weekly Tuesday interview with 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas, Jones said the statistics of previous results don't necessarily account for the unique scenarios presented in any given games.

"The analytics aspect of it is a history of how these decisions have worked out," he said. "That's probably good to know, but the momentum of the game, the situation of the game, the conditions of the game, all of that are more important in my mind than the success, history of a similar decision."

To Jones' point, a situation like Sunday's could skew the information a bit. Whatever the statistics might say about fourth down conversion rates, it's not often that teams are trying to convert 4th-and-7 in a steady rain against the league's best secondary.

All of that said, it's at least curious that the Cowboys wouldn't want to consult those probabilities during the course of an evenly-matched football game. To hear it from the Cowboys, it seems gut instinct is enough.

"I've had my biggest success when I'm sure analytics would have said make the other decision the other way," Jones said.