Vince Lombardi

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WELCOME to QuantCoach.com, the only site on the world-wide web that provides meaningful professional football coaching statistics. QuantCoach.com's revolutionary coaching statistics are derived from a peer-reviewed and generally accepted theory of competition known as Growth Theory. Veteran coach Bill Parcells once said, "If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries." But Growth Theory teaches us that success "springs from better recipes, not just from more cooking." In professional football, those "recipes" are the plays that coaches design. Simply, QuantCoach.com's coaching statistics separate the contribution of plays to pro football success from the contribution of players.

THE ARCHIVES (2015-Part 3)

QC's Week 17 Thoughts

One thing NFL owners do well is fire coaches who do not design well. Four of the six worst designed teams (Browns, 49ers, Titans and Dolphins) will begin 2016 with an HC that did not hold that job at the beginning of this just completed 2015 season. No team who finished with a positive play design differential fired their head coach. The Eagles -.0115 play design differential (No. 19) was the best differential of any team to fire their head coach (Chip Kelly). An anemic pass rush--not Tom Coughlin-- was the reason the Giants finished just No. 20 in play design differential. New York is likely to miss Coughlin the next few years. To nobody's suprise, Cleveland finished the season as the NFL's worst designed team.

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Seattle overwhelmed Arizona, 36-6, in Week 17 and in doing so vaulted to No. 1 in the NFL in play design differential, just 1/500th of a point ahead of the Cardinals. Eight (8)of the 10 best designed teams in the NFL made the playoffs. The Jets (10-6) missed the post-season on tie-breaker. The Bills (8-8) underachieved on defense and wasted an outstanding offensive design performance by OC Greg Roman. In contrast, only one team in the bottom 10 in play design differential posted as much as a break-even record, Indianapolis.

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Dallas stand-in QB Kellen Moore threw 2 interceptions and lost a fumble in a loss at Washington that brought a dismal 4-12 season to a close. The Cowboys finished with an abysmal -22 TO differential. Only the 2012 Chiefs (2-14) of Romeo Crennel (fired) and the 2012 Eagles (4-12) of Andy Reid (fired) who finished with -24 TO differentials have provided more subisdies in a single season than Jason Garrett's team since QC began tracking coaching statistics in 2008.

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For the first time in a long-time Oakland (7-9, +.0033 play design differential) and Jacksonville (6-10, -.0078 play design differential) saw significant design improvement and escaped the bottom 10 in the NFL in play design differential. But if you are looking for a team to go from worst in 2015 in its division to first in 2016, look at Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers improved significantly with rookie QB Jameis Winston and several other young players, but lost 5 games where they were the better designed team. If Winston and RB Doug Martin can cut down on their turnovers, Tampa Bay will be in the thick of the 2016 playoff race.

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QC's Week 16 Thoughts

There are no easy division games in December. Pittsburgh was reminded of this in a brutal 20-17 loss to Baltimore. The Steelers came into the game as one of the hottest teams in the NFL. The Ravens came in reeling (-15 turnovers) and starting Ryan Mallett at QB, who they picked up less than 2 weeks before to replace Jimmy Clausen, who had replaced Matt Schaub, who had replaced Joe Flacco. Nevertheless, John Harbaugh's team won the turnover battle 2-0 and controlled the action. Pittsburgh now needs help to reach the playoffs.

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Carolina fell hard from the unbeaten ranks in a 20-13 loss at division foe Atlanta. Like Baltimore, the Falcons had struggled mightily the last two months, losing 6 of 7 games including an 0-38 embarrassment in Charlotte just 3 weeks earlier. On the first drive of the game, the Panthers strolled to an easy TD. But that was it. Atlanta's non-existent pass rush came alive for the first time and Cam Newton and the Panthers production was well below the JaMarcus Cable.

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Seattle's late season surge hit a intra-division speed bump in a 23-17 loss to St. Louis. Two early turnovers, including a fumble return for a TD by the Rams Akeem Ayers, put the Seahawks in an early 16-0 hole from which they could not climb out. Behind by 3 scores and without first-string and second-string RBs Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls, Seattle's pass protection, which appeared to be growing into a strength after early season struggles, could not provide QB Russell Wilson the time he needed to complete rally.

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When New England fought back from a 17-3 deficit to tie the Jets, 20-20, and won the overtime coin toss, it looked like Bill Belichick's team had a good chance to avoid joining the intra-division upset list. But then Belichick, in a move tha can only be construed as a coaching diss of New York QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, chose to commence overtime by kicking off rather to receiving and taking posssession. Fitzpatrick made the Hooded One pay for his disrespect by driving the Jets down the field and throwing a game-winning and delivering a sudden death TD pass to WR Eric Decker. To the best of QC's recollection, the last time an NFL HC intentionally chose to kickoff in overtime was in 2002 when Detoit's Marty Mornhinweg chose to take the wind and kick to Chicago. That ended badly too as the Bears Paul Edinger delivered a sudden death field goal to give Chicago a 20-17 win.

(Archives Home)

 

QC's Week 15 Thoughts

Green Bay has never ranked worse than 8th in play design differential or been worse than 3.38% better designed in any year QB Aaron Rogers has played at least 14 games. But with just two games to play, the Packers' have a slightly negative play design differential. Green Bay (10-4) is winning ugly, but it is still winning. An early pick-6 keyed a 30-20 win at Oakland on Sunday. The pre-season loss of vertical threat Jordy Nelson seems to hurt more, not less, with each passing week. HC Mike McCarthy took back play calling duties from OC Tom Clements a few weeks ago, but the change has not brought back the big plays Rogers has made so frequently since 2008. Because Rogers remains potent in the red zone, the Packers will be a tough out once the playoffs start. But it is hard to see how they won't be out after a game or two.

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After 6 weeks, Kansas City was -2 TO and 1-5 and going nowwhere. Since that date, the Chiefs are +17 TO and 8-0 and in good position to make the playoffs. Any team that averages +2 TO per game is capable of winning every game. On Sunday, Kansas City DB Teyvon Branch and Marcus Peters each scored on a return as the Chief routed the mistake prone Ravens, -15 TO for the season, 34-14.

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Arizona demolished Philadelphia 40-17, but the Cardinals are showing vulerability on defense. The last two weeks two middling at best passers--the Eagles Sam Bradford and the Vikings Teddy Bridgewater--have moved the ball far too easily against Arizona. The Cardinals have gotten by on turnovers (+7) and timely pass pressure. Bruce Arians team is still the most explosive in the NFL, even more so with rookie RB David Johnson emerging as a force on the ground. But too reach the Super Bowl the Cardinals probably will have to keep winning the turnover battle, especially because dynamic DB Tyrann Mathieu was lost for the season to a knee injury Sunday.

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At the halfway point of the season, Washington was 3-5 and ranked in the bottom 5 in the NFL in play design differential. In the last 6 games, the Redskins are 4-2 and with games against Philadelphia and Dallas could finish with a winning record and positive play design differential. QB Kirk Cousins has always been productive. Over the past stretch he has been able to avoid turnovers in bunches that plagued him in his first two years in the league. If Cousins can continue to play within himself and let the game come to him, Washington should capture the NFC East and Cousins should receive a nice new contract.

(Archives Home)

 

QC's Week 14 Thoughts

Although the loss of QB Andy Dalton to a broken thumb in a loss to Pittsburgh is a significant setback, it might be too early to write off Cincinnati as a bona fide AFC Super Bowl threat. For starters, the Bengals remaining schedule is pretty weak, with games against San Francisco and Baltimore sandwiching a trip to Denver. If Cincinnati can sneak by the Broncos and the Jets can deal New England one more loss, the road to the Super Bowl would run through Cincinnati. Replacement A.J. McCarron has never lacked for confidence and he played on the big stage many times at Alabama. Are the Bengals in a worse position than the Giants were in 1990 when Jeff Hostetler stepped in for an injured Phil Simms? Are they in a worse position than when Houston’s T.J. Yates stepped in for an injured Matt Schaub? Probably not. For McCarron to keep hope alive, he will have to avoid turnovers (he threw a Pick-6 against the Steelers) and be effective in the red zone. He was without TE Tyler Eifert, who left the game with a concussion. Getting Eifert back quickly is mandatory because he had been Dalton’s go-to red zone receiver all year.

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Carolina wiped out Atlanta 38-0 to move to 13-0. Can the Panthers run the table? It is possible. It would seem the most likely place Ron Rivera’s team could stumble would be this week at the NY Giants. Tom Coughlin’s team will be playing for its playoff life and Eli Manning is the kind of QB who can engineer an upset. On the other hand, Carolina has absolutely no incentive for a non-division game and might not want to subject a key player or two who were sustained nicks against the Falcons to potential injury—Jonathan Stewart and Greg Olsen come to mind. Still, the Panthers are much stronger up front than NY and if Carolina gets out of Gotham unscathed, its last two games are with division opponents, Atlanta (6-7) and Tampa Bay (6-7). When New England went 16-0 in 2007, the Patriots were +16 TO and won the design battle 14 of the first 15 games of the season, but needed to win the turnover battle to edge the Giants in the regular season finale. The Panther are +18 TO and have won the design battle 13 of the first 15 games of the season. (Only Tampa Bay, which gave away 5 TOs, and Seattle were better designed.) It could happen.

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Buffalo media and fans already are starting to mutter about HC Rex Ryan after a loss in Philadelphia dropped the Bills to 6-7 and virtually dashed their playoff hopes. At the beginning of the year, questions surrounded the Buffalo offense, particularly how new OC Greg Roman and career backup QB Tyrod Taylor would fare. Roman and Taylor have delivered. What has been missing is the intense pass pressure that Mario Williams, et al. exerted last year in DC Jim Schwartz’s 4-3. Ryan prefers a 3-4 and is well-known for “scheming up” pass pressure with a dizzying variety of blitzes. But perhaps he has out-smarted himself as the Buffalo pass pressure has declined significantly. At his introductory press conference, Ryan mentioned that he would find it “disappointing” if the Bills D finished “just” 4th in the league as it did in 2014 using Schwartz’s designs and stated “I know we will lead the league in defense.” If he had been right, Buffalo would be eyeing a playoff spot right now and would be worrying about its disappointed fan base.

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When DeMarco Murray left Dallas after leading the NFL in rushing in 2014, there were concerns the Cowboys ground game would not be as dynamic. But Dallas has not seen much drop off on the ground. With the addition of road-grader La’el Collins to an already formidable O-line, Dallas has been productive running the ball. In a 28-7 loss to Green Bay on Sunday, the Cowboys averaged 8.6 yards per carry on 20 attempts. But, again without starting QB Tony Romo, the passing game again was dredful. Star WR Dez Bryan caught just 1 pass for 9 years. Why is Dallas pass game so bad? Usually, a strong running game can make even an average or slightly below average NFL QB like Matt Cassell look at least competent. Perhaps it is because OC Scott Linehan has been reluctant to throw on first down as much with backup QBs as he did with Romo. In 2014, the Cowboys passed on 59.06% of first downs. This year that figure is down to just 53.39% (28th in NFL). It is much easier to pass on first down in the NFL than it is on third down. A team that is afraid to pass on first down cannot be successful in the NFL unless it dominates the turnover battle like, for example, Kansas City. The Chiefs pass on just 51.81% (31st NLF), but QB Alex Smith also went over 300 pass attempts without throwing an interception. (The streak ended Sunday in a 10-3 win over San Diego). In contrast to Kansas City’s +12 TO differential, the Cowboys rank dead last in the NFL at -15. Jerry Jones is probably wondering if that number would be a little better and his team would have the one additional win it needs to still be in contention in the NFC East if Linehan had called a few more first down passes.

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QC's Week 13 Thoughts

The old coaching saw that a team "must be solid in the kicking game" is such a cliche that it bearly registers in our pigskin consciousness every time a coach drops it on the media at a mid-week press conference

Until, that is, something like Week 13 of the 2015 NFL season happens.

Not even Bill Belichick's Patriots are immune from defeat when they are not solid in the kicking game. Two weeks ago, a fumbled punt opened the door to a Denver comeback win, New England's first loss of the season. But that miscue was nothing compared to what Belichick witnessed in a 35-28 defeat to Philadelphia. Two Eagles TDs resulted from a punt return for a TD and a blocked punt return for a TD. Philadelphia DB Malcolm Jenkins also returned an interception 99-yards for a score. It as as if a demonic "special teams Krampus" slid down the Gillette Stadium chimney a few weeks early to even the score with Belichick. (By the way, the star of Krampus, Adam Scott, deserves to be tormented by a holiday devil for the way he treated Ben Stiller in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.")

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Another tormenter of Belichick, NY Giants HC Tom Coughlin, faired no better. New York's Eli Manning carved up the Jets for most of the Battle of Gotham. But after Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick rallied his team from a 10-point deficit to tie the game 20-20 and Randy Bullock put the Jets ahead with a field goal in OT, Giants kicker Josh Brown missed a 48-yard field that would have enabled the better designed Giants to keep playing. Of course, Coughlin's team probably would not have been in OT if he had simply taken a shorter field goal attempt in the fourth quarter instead of going for a TD on fourth down, a decision which resulted in a Manning interception and a missing 3 points at the end of regulation.

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Chicago's John Fox is another HC feeling pretty powerless over the kicking game today. As the clock ran down, Fox probably thinking his team would escape with a win over San Francisco despite Jay Cutler tossing a pick-6. Other than a nifty TD run, 49ers QB Blaine Gabbert had looked pretty much like the "old Blaine Gabbert," not the "new and improved Blaine Gabbert" and reliable kicker Robby Gould was lining up for a short field goal attempt. But then Gould missed. And then Gabber threw a long TD pass in OT to win the game. Doh!.

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Not even unbeaten Carolina could avoid the kicking game flu. For the first time in NFL history, a defense scored point on a PAT when New Orleans blocked Graham Gano's kick and rookie LB Stephone Anthony returned the ball for 2-points. Fortunately for Panthers HC Ron Rivera and QB Cam Newton, the Saints defense maintained the generous spirit of giving up big passes, runs and points that it has demonstrated all year and Carolina prevailed 41-38 to move to 12-0 and remain the NFL's only undefeated team.

(Archives Home)

 

QC's Week 12 Thoughts

Lions and Panthers and Bears! Oh My! Thanksgiving Day was a mixed bag for NFL fans. TV viewers could not have been thankful that the NFL scheduled not one, but two, NFC East teams after watching both Philadelphia and Dallas absorb poundings. Carolina's stuffing of the Cowboys included breaking Dallas QB Tony Romo's wishbone. On the other hand, half of the NFC North had much for which to be thankful. Detroit fans can be thankful that the Lions, who won for the third straight week, and QB Matt Stafford have turned their season around after a wretched 1-7 start. Chicago fans can be thankful for DC Vic Fangio. The Bears defense has played like turkeys for most of the post-Brian Urlacher era and got off to a rough start in 2015. After Chicago shipped pass rusher Jared Allen to Carolina in a pre-Christmas sale, it looked like maybe the Bears were getting an early start on 2016. But as the D has gotten more familiar with Fangio's designs, the Bears have improved and now are the best designed team in the division per coaching stats. And, at 5-6, Chicago is in the wild-card mix.

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Look no further for an explanation of Kansas City's 5-game winning streak than Alex Smith's reprise of his performance of the "turnoverless QB" that vaulted San Francisco to a 13-3 record in 2011. The Chiefs have not committed a single turnover since Week 6 and are +14 TO during the streak. That is nearly +3 TO per game on average. Not many NFL teams lose at +3 TO.

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Indianapolis has ranked near the bottom of the NFL in play design +/- all year and HC Chuck Pagano reportedly is under major heat. Yet despite losing starting QB Andrew Luck, the Colts are 6-5 and tied for lead in the AFC South with Houston. It has not been pretty. But Pagano knows how to perservere. That is a valuable quality for any NFL HC to possess.

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After Miami absorbed a 38-29 thrashing from the NY Jets, interim HC Dan Campbell fired OC Bill Lazor. Perhaps an interim OC will be the answer for the Dolphins in this lost year. It's clear an interim HC was not.

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