Taking personnel breakdowns to another level

December, 7, 2008
12/07/08
11:23
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Some tweaking has taken the usual postgame breakdowns to another level in terms of analyzing personnel use across situations.

I'll offer for download a reworked version of the Cardinals' personnel breakdown against the Rams from Week 9 this season. We can now match production across personnel groups to down (and distance for third downs).

Example: We can now see that Arizona used the four-receiver package featuring J.J. Arrington five times on first down, once on second down and three times on third down. Within the third-down group, we see Arizona used it once on third-and-3 to third-and-6, twice on third-and-7 to third-and-10 and once from third-and-11 or longer.

We see that Tim Hightower's involvement with this personnel group featured five of six plays on first or second down. We can also see how the Cardinals used their one-back, three-receiver offense -- mostly on second down and mostly with Hightower.

When you compare this information across groups, you get a more nuanced look at how a team uses its players on offense. I have also added breakdowns focusing on I-formation, offset-I, empty backfields, split backfields, etc. Those are toward the bottom of the sheet.

The next project is setting up a file that will allow for this type of analysis across a full season. It's just a matter of tweaking some formulas as time permits. As always, your ideas are appreciated. I added the I-formation and offset-I features on request and can generally add other features within reason.

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