Daniel Stern, Billed as "Football Research Coach", Helped To Win Crucial Game

Published on September 20th, 2021 11:04 am EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Game analytics are an increasingly more important part of the American football game. It was a crucial moment in the Sunday Night Football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens.

There was 1:05 left in the fourth quarter and the Ravens were up 36-35. The Chiefs had no timeouts left.

With the ball at their own 43 yard line, the Ravens were facing a 4th and 1.

What do you do in this situation?

Most people would probably say that you should "play it safe" - punt the ball and let the Chiefs try to beat you with no timeouts left.

That is the "safe" call, but it's not the right call, at least based on game analytics.

The "right" call, by a mile, was putting the ball into the hands of Lamar Jackson on 4th and 1. If he gains a yard, the Ravens win.

In fact, the Ravens had a 80%+ chance of winning the game (based on the data) if they went for it on 4th and 1.

If they punted? The analytics said that their chances of winning dropped to 61%.

A no-brainer. The Ravens, with the data backing them up, went for it and won the game.


Daniel Stern is just 27 years of age, but he plays a very important role with the Baltimore Ravens.

The Yale graduate is billed as a "Football Research Coach", and "assists with the Ravens' football analytics efforts, providing statistical analysis and research to the coaching staff."

A few years ago, the Ravens turned heads when they hired Stern to join their team. The Ravens insisted that analytics would give them an edge. Instead of just "going with their guts", as coaches have done for decades, the Ravens decided that they would let the data guide their way when it came time to make difficult decisions.

Should we punt or go for it?

Should we go for 2 points here?

What are the odds of us winning this game if we punt instead of going for it?

The data usually gives a clear indication as to what a team should do.


In the case of the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night, the data was clearly on the side of going for it on 4th and 1, and the Ravens ended up winning the game.

There is no doubt that Daniel Stern and his research staff indicated to coach John Harbaugh that the odds were clearly favouring going for it on 4th and 1, and Harbaugh clearly embraces the use of analytics, so he went for it.

Many coaches in the past would have just kicked it away, but Harbaugh and the Ravens tend to think differently, and they were rewarded for it on Sunday night.

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