Giants' Joe Judge Rips Analytics: If Excel Won Games, Bill Gates Would Be Killing It

Adam WellsSeptember 29, 2021

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge reacts on the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Don't talk to New York Giants head coach Joe Judge about how analytics play into his in-game decisions. 

Asked by reporters Wednesday about how analytics inform his decision of whether to go for it on fourth down, Judge brought up Microsoft Excel and Bill Gates. 

"Analytics is just a tool," Judge said. "You can look at a stat sheet all you want. I promise you, if Excel was gonna win football games, Bill Gates would be killing it right now. But you've got to take those numbers."

It's worth noting that Forbes estimates Gates' net worth at $129.6 billion. He's not an NFL head coach, but he's doing OK for himself from a financial standpoint. 

Judge is fair to point out that analytics is "just a tool." But it's a tool every NFL team uses, and some of the most successful franchises employ it on a consistent basis. 

Per a September 2020 survey conducted by ESPN's Seth Walder, six of the 12 playoff teams from the 2019 season were voted among the 10 most analytically advanced organizations in the NFL. 

The Baltimore Ravens are widely regarded as the most analytically inclined organization in the NFL. They have made the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, including posting the NFL's best record during the 2019 regular season (14-2). 

Judge has been fairly conservative on fourth-down situations since taking over as Giants head coach in 2020. They ranked 13th in fourth-down attempts last season and have only tried three through the first three games in 2021. 

This season, Judge has opted to punt the ball away in opposing territory rather than attempt long field goals. 

In Week 3, he punted on 4th-and-4 from the Atlanta Falcons' 39-yard line in the third quarter of a game the Giants were losing 7-6. The Falcons ended up punting after getting the ball back, and New York scored a touchdown on its next possession. 

Atlanta wound up winning the game 17-14 thanks to two scoring drives in the fourth quarter. 

Two weeks ago against the Washington Football Team, Judge sent the punt team out on a 4th-and-13 from Washington's 38-yard line rather than kick a 55-yard field goal late in the first quarter with a 7-0 lead. 

The Football Team drove 90 yards down the field to tie the game on their possession. Washington won the game 30-29 on Dustin Hopkins' 49-yard field goal as time expired. 

Giants kicker Graham Gano made field goals from 52 yards and 55 yards earlier in the game. He is 7-of-7 on field-goal attempts and 3-of-3 on extra points this season.  

The Giants enter Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints as one of five teams with an 0-3 record.