Ben Leber of 1500ESPN says new Vikings General Manager is more than a “Moneyball” hire.
Ben Leber is a sports writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He recently wrote about how new Vikings GM Rick Spielman will be more than just “Moneyball”. Read more in detail here: minnesota vikings logo.
Vikings provided this image. Former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber (dismissed the concept that new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is only an analyst.
In the summer of 2020, when Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman were given three-year contract extensions by the Minnesota Vikings, Zimmer compared Spielman to himself, calling him a “football person.”
Zimmer told Vikings.com in August 2020, “Rick’s a football person.” “He enjoys the process of scouting players, learning strategies, and figuring out what we’re looking for in each position, and then relaying that information to the scouts.” Then collaborating with us and the coaches. The greatest accolade a general manager can get is that he is a football fan.”
The backlash from the “football men” barely a year into their new contracts has ushered in a new era for the Vikings.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, the new general manager, is not like his predecessors.
Because of his training in analytics, Adofo-Mensah is known as the “Moneyball man” among the team’s fans, for better or ill. Ben Leber, a former Vikings linebacker, deconstructed the term and explained why the movie reference is irrelevant in the NFL.
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Leber Defends a GM Who Isn’t Just a Moneyball Player
Following the news of Adofo-hire Mensah’s by the Vikings leaking out, Leber turned to Twitter to refute the impression that Adofo-Mensah is merely a number cruncher.
“I understand that the word ‘analytics’ is a euphemism for Kwesi’s method, but I’m not sold on the overall Moneyball football concept.” “Football doesn’t have the same quantitative repetitions as baseball,” Leber remarked, alluding to the difference in playing time between the two sports.
I get that “analytics” is a convenient label for Kwesi’s method, but I’m not sold on the overall Moneyball football concept. Baseball and football do not have the same number of repetitions.
January 26, 2022 — Ben Leber (@nacholeber)
His initial tweet was seen as a dig at Adofo-Mensah. He did clarify, though, that for Adofo-Mensah to have risen to the position of general manager in only nine years as an NFL executive, he needed more than simply the “Moneyball” method.
“It wasn’t intended to be negative.” In fact, it’s the polar opposite. “I keep hearing about his’moneyball’ strategy, but I believe he’s more than that,” Leber remarked. “Trying to debunk the notion that he’s merely a number cruncher.”
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It wasn’t intended to be a negative statement. In fact, it’s the polar opposite. I keep hearing about his “moneyball” strategy, but I believe he’s more than that. Trying to debunk the notion that he’s merely a statistics guy.
January 26, 2022 — Ben Leber (@nacholeber)
Adofo-Mensah was general manager Andrew Berry’s right-hand man for the previous two seasons as the Cleveland Browns’ vice president of football operations.
According to ESPN, the two put up the fifth-best 2021 rookie draft class. PFF’s 2021 All-Rookie Team includes first-round cornerback Greg Newsome (No. 26 overall) and second-round linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (No. 52 overall). Late-round rookie wideouts Anthony Schwartz and Demetric Felton also contributed to the Browns’ success.
Prior to joining the Browns, Adofo-Mensah aided the San Francisco 49ers in rebuilding a Super Bowl-caliber team that is still in place following Jim Harbaugh’s tenure.
Adofo-Mensah was elevated to head of the department that influences both roster management and scouting operations in 2017 after four years as a manager of football research and development.
In the 2017 draft, the 49ers struck gold when they selected George Kittle in the fifth round. In the third round of the 2018 draft, the 49ers selected All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner. Adofo-Mensah was in the draft room when Nick Bosa was picked No. 2 overall and Deebo Samuel was selected in the second round in his last year in San Francisco. In 2021, both players were named to the Pro Bowl.
Zimmer’s refusal to accept analytics puts players in danger, according to Vikings insiders.
On the Vikings Access podcast, Star Tribune beat writers Ben Goessling and Andrew Krammer discussed the growing acceptability and ambiguity surrounding analytics in the NFL.
“Those phrases — analytics, statistics — are bandied about a lot, but there isn’t a lot of depth in sports journalism about what they mean and how they present themselves on the field.” One approach is via the GPS tracking data (on players’ jerseys), which says things like, ‘Hey, this person has put in a lot of distance and has been under a lot of stress.’ At this moment, his hamstrings are going to give out. “Coach, let’s not overwork him on a Wednesday,” Krammer said. “And Mike Zimmer may respond, ‘Bah,’” says the narrator. What exactly are you referring to? Today is a practice day. On Sunday, we were able to play.”
In response to Anthony Barr re-aggravating his hamstring in Week 13, Goessling stated that the club may not have taken the required measures.
Here’s the remainder of their conversation on the previous government, including comparisons to Spielman:
Goessling: Or a 40-degree December day while he’s recovering from a hamstring injury… Just putting it out there.
Kramer: The coach not being open to (analytics), that has occurred too many times and cannot happen with whomever the Minnesota Vikings’ 10th head coach is.
Goessling: It occurred all the time… We’re just suggesting here, but it occurred a lot, and we’ll likely have more to say about it in the future… However, it occurred often.
The reporters from the Star Tribune praised Spielman for adopting analytics. Nonetheless, they contrasted his comprehension of them to that of the Geiko caveman, claiming that he just desired the player and not the evidence around the final choice.
Goessling said, “Rick wanted to do the grinding work you usually did as a scout.” “I’m not saying that’s the bad way to do it, but if that’s the only way to do it, other NFL clubs are saying, ‘Hey, we see baseball.’” We’ve even witnessed hockey. Other sports are in a better position.’ You can learn from this math stuff if you accept it.”
It remains to be seen if the Vikings can locate a coach who will be sympathetic to Adofo-data-driven Mensah’s background.
Kramer left a message for Vikings ownership as the club prepares to make its next hiring in the coming days.
“Get out of his way and let him pick the next head coach,” Kramer said of Adofo-Mensah. “Because you need to make sure those guys are in lockstep.”
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