What a defense must accomplish

There are many old adages that are essentially lies. Run to win. Defense wins championships. You know the list and once you get past that rhetoric you find answers in statistics.

This is where the road becomes somewhat treacherous. As the saying goes, “Lies, damn lies and statistics.” As you probably know, without context and understanding statistics can easily be manipulated and misunderstood. Guys like Cris Collinsworth make a living reading poorly understood statistics and twisting them into meagerly coherent sentences. TV networks blow little bits of some hard-working statisticians’ research across the bottom of the screen in some vague attempt at improving their credibility. In the end, most of that effort masks the truth.

Manny Diaz, defensive coordinator for the Texas Longhorns, has figured out that trick [via SmartFootball.com]:

But Diaz has another trait, one that separates him from many in his profession: he’s a stat-hound, and somebody who stays on top of the latest advanced statistical metrics.

According to Diaz, the trend started when he became a graduate assistant at Florida State. Diaz attended school at the Tallahaase powerhouse, but didn’t play football. And after graduating, he went to work in television, becoming a production assistant on “NFL Countdown.” But Diaz had a desire find a place on another side of the game — as a coach — and he joined the FSU staff in 1998.

“You can win a national championship by making people kick field goals in the red zone,” Diaz said. “And you can finish last, in theory, in red zone defense. It just doesn’t make sense.”

In other words, “bend, don’t break” may have actually been the key to success after all. 

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