Win Probability Added is a thing I’m familiar with from my days as a baseball nerd. In short, WPA assesses the percent change in a particular team’s chance of winning from one particular event to the next. WPA essentially measures the importance of a given plate appearance within the context of the game. Think of home runs in a late/close game as more valuable than dingers in a blowout. That would be your baseball example. Now, use your imagination to think of some football ones. Got it? Good. Let’s move on.
Quantifying Win Probability Added for coaches in a football game isn’t my forte. But the folks at SumerSports gave it a whirl, charting the NFL’s top head coaches in Win Probability Over Expected in 2022. And even though the Chicago Bears finished with a 3-14 record that resulted in the team landing the No. 1 overall pick, Head Coach Matt Eberflus scored quite well in this metric.
In fact, Eberflus and his staff had the fifth-best WPA over expected in 2022:
Not bad for a rookie head coach. Heck, not bad for a coach whose team finished the season by dropping 10 straight games and losing its way into earning the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
It almost makes you wonder how many games the Bears would’ve lost had they hired anyone else. Then again, it’s not as if things could’ve been worse for Chicago’s football team.
Also, let’s be clear about what this chart is (and isn’t) saying. As SumerSports underscores with this tweet, their findings here are a result of a coach’s decision-making during the games based on several factors. Among them are fourth-down decisions, timeout usage, delay of game avoidance, and things of that nature. Additionally, it’s not about the talent on the field or whether the outcome of the decision-making process was successful. In other words, a good process was rewarded despite its outcome. And, to me, that is a good way to grade something like WPA. Good stuff here.
Now, this isn’t to say Eberflus doesn’t have stuff he can work on. That -12.2% WPA when it came to second-half timeout usage is an eyesore. It really stands out as one of the worst numbers in what is otherwise a good-looking set of data supporting Eberflus’ status as a quality head-coach hire by GM Ryan Poles.
This brings me to this thought: It is 2023 and the Bears have a head coach who grades out well in WPA, a general manager who worked under several quality front office execs that were part of a winning organization, an assistant GM who is a hot candidate turning down promotions elsewhere, and a new president who folks in NFL circles are raving about. I don’t know how to process this. And I don’t know what to do with my hands.
Please send help. Ideally in the form of players who can make Eberflus’ decision-making process look even better by executing it well.