The NFL’s Football Operations department last week announced the finalists of its fourth Big Data Bowl – its annual competition that challenges members of the sports analytics community “to contribute to the NFL’s continuing evolution in the use of advanced analytics.” We are proud to announce that Sydney Robinson – a member of the 33rd Team – was part of a team that is one of the five Open competition finalists. Robinson’s team also includes Asmae Toumi, Marschall Furman and Tony El Habr.
The theme for this year’s Big Data Bowl was pass defense. Competitors were given player tracking data from every pass play of the 2018 NFL season in order to “identify unique and impactful approaches to measure defensive performance on these plays.”
Robinson’s team – with a nod to longtime defensive coordinator Wade Phillips – developed a measurement with the acronym WADE: Weighted Assessment of Defensive Efficiency.
“WADE was designed to evaluate individual players with the understanding of who was good in coverage up until the throw and once the ball was thrown who was good at contesting,” explained Robinson. “The ideal pass defender would be good at decreasing the likelihood a QB throws at a receiver — and if they did throw their way, then decreasing the likelihood of a catch. The reality is there are several players who are better at one or the other, so from the eyes of a front office, this can help piece together a secondary with complementary parts or at the very least take this a step further and see which pieces generally yield more defensive success.”
Robinson was an original founding member of the 33rd Team, working on the 2019 NFL Draft when it was just a team of 2. While the team has grown considerably, he remains the 33rd Team’s go-to source for any analytics questions.
The link to the Kaggle with full explanation of the team’s project can be found here.