Tennessee Titans, Ken Whisenhunt show they’re still behind the learning curve


When Tennessee agreed to terms with head coach Ken Whisenhunt to become the Titans new head coach, they were met with mixed thoughts.

Some called it a reaction to the Detroit Lions potentially snagging the former-Arizona Cardinals clipboard holder. Others have mentioned how Whisenhunt will help oft-injured quarterback Jake Locker develop.

Few, however, have noted Whisenhunt’s lack of outside-the-box thinking and aversion to advanced metrics.

Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com pondered a few topics on advanced analytics before the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, opting to focus on Whisenhunts comments from mid-February, as deciphered by ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky.

This is the way to look at it from a perspective of play calling. I can’t tell you thousands and thousands of plays that you’ve gone in there and you’ve prepared to see a defense and you can run all the analytics that you want but there is no guarantee on third-and-1 in a critical situation in the game that they are going to play the defense they’ve shown 99 out of 100 times. It just doesn’t happen.

Both linked pieces have interesting takes on Whisehunt. Kuharksy believes Whisenhunt respects the analytics, while Barnwell takes the new coach to task for his comments.

Below is an excerpt from Barnwell’s piece, but I suggest reading it in its entirety.

Analytics, just like play calling or proper play design, are designed to help put you in the best situation possible and make it easiest for you to succeed.

I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment.

It’s also interesting to take a quick look at the Titans organization as a whole.

In 2012, just 14 teams used tablets for their playbooks and game film. Tennessee is using the iPad for the first time this year.

According to Information-Management.com, seven teams are seriously flirting with advanced analytics as of last season. Out of those seven, four of them have made deep playoff runs in recent years — the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons.

Whisenhunt mentioned in the interview that he respects analytics, but dismissed the idea that they can significantly impact a game plan.

The Titans have made it to the playoffs just once since 2008. Since 1995, Houston/Tennessee had had three different coaches and been to the postseason a grand total of six times (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008).

Jeff Fisher was a brilliant mind at the helm and got the best out of his team, losing more than once in the playoffs to a team that went on to win the Super Bowl.

Mike Munchak followed Fisher’s old-school mentality, refusing to alter his ways in a league that is ever-changing. Now, the Titans have brought in Whisenhunt, who other than bringing in iPads for the team’s playbook, appears to be stuck in his old ways as well.

After dropping Steve McNair and seeing the playoffs just twice since 2003, you’d think the Titans would find any advantage they could over the competition. For now, it appears they won’t.

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