During his press conference yesterday, Coach Zorn made a reference to looking at the statistics on icing the kicker. I linked to an Esquire article that seemed to indicate that, essentially, icing the kicker was bad.
I realize that Esquire isn’t exactly JAMA, but I figured that it was sufficient to shore up Zorn’s point and provide a readable link on the subject. I knew it probably wasn’t the kind of statistical analysis Zorn would use to research, but — all “math is hard!” jokes aside — it seemed good enough for people, like me, who don’t have advanced research degrees.
Fortunately, at least one of my readers does have that sort of degree, and E. David Klonsky, PhD, emailed me with the following.
I spend much of my time nowadays thinking about statistics and research methods, so a quick comment on the utility of icing-the-kicker. The data you cited on yesterdays’ blog in support of icing-the-kicker were based on pressure kicks from 2002 and 2003. Consequently, the conclusion was based on a relatively small sample of pressure kicks. In contrast, if one examines all pressure kicks since 1991 (848 pressure kicks in all), it’s clear that icing-the-kicker has no effect: 71.7% of non-iced kicks are successful, compared to 72.0%of iced kicks.
These data are cited by Dr. Z/Paul Zimmerman in a cnnsi.com column from 2005:
Here’s an excerpt:
“I was thinking about this whole icing matter, so I sent my query along to the good Doctor Stamms of Stats, Inc. He came up with the following: Pressure kicks (using the same guidelines as described above, except that they’re in the last two minutes, not three) since 1991, regular season — 457 of 637 (71.7 percent) made, without icing on them. After icing, the number is 152 of 211 (72 percent). So it’s a push. Next week we’ll discuss kicks with frosting instead of icing.”
Between Drs Klonsky, Z, and Stamms, that’s a whole lot of doctorates all agreeing that icing the kicker is fundamentally pointless. Of course, if Coach Zorn were really into following research and thinking outside the box, he would’ve solved the Durant Brooks issue by doing away with the punter altogether, so there are probably other things factoring into his thinking here.