Quantifying NFL Coaching: A Proof of New Growth Theory

Kevin P. Braig

New Growth Theory is the science of research, knowledge, and designs. The foundation of New Growth Theory is that technological change, improvement in the instructions for mixing resources, lies at the heart of growth and improvement. Designs are the instructions that turn resources into useful things. The combination of professional baseball history and professional football history teaches us that growth in the National Football League (NFL) springs from better designs such as the Green Bay Packers' power sweep and the San Francisco 49ers' rhythm passing. This paper demonstrates that although football design architectures differ, the outcome of all useful designs is identical: The creation of the same non-rival 2-to-1 edge that the pitcher and catcher (the battery) continuously enjoy over a hitter in baseball. This paper's main conclusions are that, at maximum efficiency, NFL coaching research accounts for more than 25% of the team's efficiency and superior human capital engaged in production (playing) accounts for less than 15% of efficiency. In other words, research and play design contributes more to an NFL team's efficiency than play-making contributes. An NFL growth rate is equal to the productivity of a coaching staff’s research and represents a directional vector. If an NFL team’s growth rate is greater than 100%, it is likely the team is getting better continuously. Such an improving NFL team will generate increasing returns and enjoy an absolute competitive edge over competitors whose research productivity is less than or equal to 100%. Super Bowl results demonstrate that an NFL team that can sustain such growth and avoid turnovers is virtually unbeatable.

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JQAS, an official journal of the American Statistical Association, publishes research on the quantitative aspects of professional and collegiate sports. Articles deal with subjects as measurements of player performance, tournament structure, and the frequency and occurrence of records. Additionally, the journal serves as an outlet for professionals in the sports world to raise issues and ask questions that relate to quantitative sports analysis.

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