Tomlin Prefers “Feel” Over Analytics

It’s infusing in sports’ culture. For some, it’s embraced. For others, it’s shied away from. For Mike Patrick, it’s made fun of. The play of analytics in football is growing but for Mike Tomlin, he still prefers to go with his gut.

The topic was approached during his press conference Tuesday when he was asked about what goes into the decision of going for two.

“We work a menu of plays in that area over the course of the week. We rank them at the latter part of the week, and then we get into the stadium and we play it by ear. A lot of it has to do with the feel or the flow of the game. Maybe what personnel group we think they’re going to match our personnel group with.

As we start to play and work the ball down the field on the drives that produce the touchdowns before the point after, we have a little inclination of what their personality might be at least in terms of matching our personnel. All of those things weigh into the decision. It legitimately is a feel thing.”

Tomlin, and the Steelers’ organization, have been more open to analytics but won’t let it run their decisions.

“I think that’s why you play the game. You can take analytics to baseball and things like that but football is always going to be football. I got a lot of respect for analytics and numbers, but I’m not going to make judgements based on those numbers. The game is the game. It’s an emotional one played by emotional and driven men. That’s an element of the game you can’t measure. Often times decisions such as that weigh heavily into the equation.”

For Sunday at least, Tomlin’s decisions worked. The Steelers went 2-2, electing to go for two on their first two touchdowns.

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.