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The Coryell Index

Yesterday, we looked at the Billick Index, a measure of coaches who managed teams that were good at preventing offensive touchdowns and bad at creating them. Today, the reverse, which is appropriately named after Don Coryell. Coryell’s teams were slanted towards the offense even when he was in St. Louis, but the situation exploded when he went to San Diego. Here’s a look at Coryell’s year-by-year grades in the Coryell Index: for example, in 1981, his Chargers scored 23.1 more offensive touchdowns than the average team, while opposing offenses against San Diego scored 10.1 more touchdowns than average. Add those two numbers together, and there were 33.3 more offensive touchdowns scored in San Diego games than in the average game in 1981 (this is the same information presented as yesterday, but now the “Grade” column reflects the number above average).


Coryell’s 1985 team grades out as even more offensive-oriented than the ’81 version. In fact, with the ’85 Chargers at 35.6 touchdowns above average, they have the 4th highest Coryell Index grade in NFL history. Which other teams were in the top five?

  • The Dick Vermeil Chiefs were extreme, even for Vermeil teams (the head coach checks in at #8 on the Coryell Index). The most offensively lopsided of those teams came in 2004, when Kansas City scored 483 points but finished 7-9. The Chiefs scored 22.1 more offensive touchdowns than average, but the defense allowed 14.1 more touchdowns to opposing offenses than average. Unfortunately, a 3-7 record in games decided by 8 or fewer points caused the team to miss the playoffs.
  • Last year’s Broncos come in at number two. We all know about Peyton Manning, and the offense produced 33.1 more touchdowns than average. The defense was a bit less impressive, allowing 6.1 more touchdowns than average, giving the normally conservative John Fox an out-of-character1 a grade of +39.1.
  • But there should be no doubt about the identity of the top team on the list: the 2000 Rams. St. Louis allowed 16.3 more touchdowns to opposing offenses than the average team, while scoring a whopping 29.3 more on offense. Together, there were 45.5 more touchdowns scored on offense during Rams games than in the average game in 2000. We’ll take a closer look at the mad scientist that was Mike Martz in a few moments.

Here’s the full list. As you can see, Coryell stands out at the top of the list (the Coryell Index grade is in the “TD” column below). After Coryell, some of the next coaches at the top of the list make it more on longevity, but here’s how to read Sean Payton’s line down at number six. Payton began coaching in ’06 and last coached in ’13; he has compiled a 73-39 record in his 112 games, for a 0.652 winning percentage. His Saints teams have scored 101.6 more touchdowns than the average team, but in a bit of a surprise, have allowed 12.4 fewer touchdowns than average (remember, a positive number means the defense was above average).2

RkCoachFirst YrLast YrGRecordWin%OFFDEFTDTD/16G
1Don Coryell19731986195111-83-10.569124.4-69.619415.9
2Tom Landry19601988418250-162-60.598172.243.8128.54.9
3Don Shula19631995490328-156-60.669230114116.13.8
4Mike Shanahan19882013308170-1380.55281.5-23.3104.85.4
5Sam Wyche1984199519184-1070.4432-5991.17.6
6Sean Payton2006201311273-390.652101.612.489.312.8
7Jerry Glanville1985199312960-690.46519.9-68.388.310.9
8Dick Vermeil19762005229120-1090.52492.66.486.26
9Norv Turner19942012237114-122-10.48157-
10Allie Sherman1961196811257-51-40.50935.8-47.883.611.9
11George Seifert19892001176114-620.648127.645.482.27.5
12Tom Coughlin19952013288158-1300.54959.9-20.980.84.5
13John Madden19691978142103-32-70.725105.926.179.79
14Bill Belichick19912013304199-1050.655133.555.578.14.1
15Jack Patera197619829435-590.37213.4-61.174.612.7
16Sid Gillman19551974228122-99-70.53554.4-17.171.55
17Mike McCarthy2006201312882-45-10.64170.4-0.470.98.9
18Mike Martz200020058553-320.62460-8.868.813
19Blanton Collier1963197011276-34-20.67970.35.764.59.2
20George Halas19331967363234-117-120.645162.499.163.32.8
21Buck Shaw1946196015090-55-50.695.131.963.16.7
22Weeb Ewbank19541973266130-129-70.48945.2-
23Steve Mariucci1997200513972-670.51827.3-30.557.76.6
24Mike Tice200120056532-330.49227.7-3057.714.2
25Joe Stydahar195019544920-28-10.40822-26.548.615.9
26Dennis Green19922006207113-940.54639.3-
27Chuck Fairbanks197319788546-390.54136.4-743.48.2
28Charley Winner196619759344-44-50.47310.6-31.542.17.2
29Jim Hanifan198019899339-53-10.4195.1-36.341.47.1
30Mike Holmgren19922008272161-1110.59279.939.140.92.4
31Wayne Fontes1988199613366-670.49616.1-
32Gene Ronzani195019534614-31-10.304-0.3-4039.813.8
33Walt Michaels197719828739-47-10.4489.5-28.537.97
34Luke Johnsos194219453623-11-20.63945.27.337.916.9
35Hunk Anderson194219453623-11-20.63945.27.337.916.9
36Dick Nolan1968198015669-82-50.44221.4-16.437.83.9
37Mike Sherman200020059657-390.59438.73.335.45.9
38Jim Schwartz200920138029-510.36313.6-21.635.17
39Mike McCormack197319828129-51-10.358-9.4-4333.66.6
40Otto Graham196619684217-22-30.40512.3-20.332.612.4
41Joe Walton1983198911153-57-10.4772.7-29.732.44.7
42Paul Wiggin197519773511-240.314-2-3432.114.7
43Lou Saban1960197620195-99-70.473-1.6-
44Rod Marinelli200620084810-380.208-13.1-43.930.810.3
45Aaron Kromer20122012167-90.43816.8-12.829.629.6
46Ted Marchibroda1975199818687-98-10.468-2.2-31.829.62.5
47Jason Garrett201020135629-270.51811.6-
48Gary Kubiak2006201312561-640.4888.7-
49Mike Smith200820139660-360.62529.52.5274.5
50Ron Erhardt197819814921-280.42922.3-2.624.98.1
51Gene Stallings198619895823-34-10.397-4.2-2924.86.8
52Bruce Coslet1990200012447-770.379-16.2-40.324.13.1
53Red Dawson194619494819-25-40.3966.4-17.423.87.9
54Wade Phillips1985201314682-640.56239.515.723.82.6
55Chan Gailey199820128034-460.4250.4-23.423.74.7
56Leslie Frazier201020135421-32-10.3890.9-22.723.67
57Alex Webster196919737029-40-10.4143.3-20.323.55.4
58Bill Austin196619705617-36-30.3040.6-22.623.26.6
59Joe Gibbs19812007248154-940.62163.340.722.51.5
60Sammy Baugh196019644218-240.429-0.4-22.622.38.5
61Jim Haslett2000200810847-610.435-8.4-29.921.53.2
62Hampton Pool194619544726-19-20.55317.4-3.6217.2
63Adam Walsh194519462115-5-10.71419-22116
64Dennis Erickson199520049640-560.4171.5-18.5203.3
65Jack Christiansen196319676726-38-30.388-4.8-24.719.94.8
66Frankie Albert195619583619-16-10.5281.9-17.919.88.8
67Bill Walsh1979198815292-59-10.60561.141.919.32
68Jim Mora19862001231125-1060.54127.17.919.21.3
69Clem Crowe19491950185-12-10.278-7.3-25.718.416.4
70Lisle Blackbourn195419574817-310.354-0.9-
71John Ralston197219767034-33-30.48617-1184.1
72Joe Bugel199019978024-560.3-16-3417.93.6
73June Jones199419985822-360.379-6.8-
74John Robinson1983199114375-680.52411.6-5.617.31.9
75Norm Van Brocklin1961197417366-100-70.382-26.6-43.817.11.6

I’m a bit shocked that Martz wasn’t much higher on the list. His years as offensive coordinators in St. Louis in ’99 (+11.7)and Detroit in ’07 (+13.9) would have helped, but Martz only had one other Coryell Index-heavy year as head coach: a +19.5 grade in 2001. Of course, Martz still checks in as one of the most pass-happy coaches in history. He lacks the longevity to rank in the top ten, but in some ways, he was the closest thing to Coryell of this generation.

Allie Sherman was the Giants head coach in the ’60s, after he was the man who replaced Vince Lombardi as offensive coordinator in New York. His teams were great for the first three seasons and then fell apart, but overall, he wound up running some of the most one-sided teams of the decade. Sherman had several offensive stars (at various times, Del Shofner, Y.A. Tittle, Homer Jones (remember him?), Fran Tarkenton, and Rosey Brown), but the defense was generally bad, particularly in the latter half of his tenure.

John Madden shows up at #13 on our list. It’s easy to forget in the “boom/wham” modern era of Madden, but the man was a phenomenal offensive coach. His offenses produced 11.9 more touchdowns per 16 games than average, a higher number than even Coryell.

One defensive-minded head coach also shows up on the list: George Seifert was the 49ers defensive coordinator for years, and his defenses were well above-average when he was a head coach, but his monster offenses vault him to #11 on the list. Of course, Bill Walsh is the man who created all of those offenses, and having Steve Young and Jerry Rice helps. With all due respect to Seifert, he and Billick seem to be examples of how the Jerrys and Joes can matter more than the Xs and Os.

Speaking of Walsh, why does he fall so far down on the list at #67? A few reasons, the most prominent among them being he was a great coach, not just a great offensive mind. Another is that it really took Walsh’s 49ers offenses a few years to turn into offensive powerhouses. He took over a 2-14 team in ’78 that didn’t have its first round pick in ’79, which may be why his offenses sputtered for the first few seasons:


What stands out to you about the Coryell Index? Tom Landry? Mike Shanahan? Norv Turner? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

  1. In Carolina, Fox’s teams had grades of +17, +16, +11, +9, +8, and +8 on the Billick Index. []
  2. That’s entirely the result of the 2010 and 2013 Saints; otherwise, Payton’s Saints would have allowed a few more touchdowns than average. []
  • I’m glad to see another entry with touchdowns/season as the metric.

    The high-touchdown teams are more entertaining.

    Sports in general depend on entertainment. If it’s not entertaining, then there will not be funding.

  • dmstorm22

    The other reason why Walsh only checks in at #67? Because his defenses in SF were consistently really, really good… coached by George Seifert.

    The defenses were actually more year-to-year consistent in the Walsh era than the offenses. Not to take anything away from Bill Walsh, who I think is a genius and an easy Top-5, if not Top-3, coach of all time, equating Seifert with Billick seems wrong. This is a man who had averaged better than a 12-4 season in San Francisco, and won a Super Bowl with a lot of players who hadn’t ever played for Walsh come 1994. That awful final season killed him and ended any chances at a HOF nod, but he was a really integral part of the 49ers dynasty.

    • The 49ers were better in Seifert’s first season as head coach than in Walsh’s last season as head coach.

      The Walsh 49ers won a total of 1 playoff game that were not in the 3 seasons when they won a Super Bowl. The Walsh 49ers had 3 seasons in a row of losing their first playoff game, between the 1984 and 1988 seasons.

      I am not convinced that Seifert was any worse a coach than Walsh.

      • dmstorm22

        I personally don’t go that far, but I hate when people try to gloss over Seifert as being a Jon Gruden, a man who won with another coaches players. First, he coached a lot of those players too, and he stayed long enough and win enough that he has his own resume that holds up.

        Honestly, if Roger Craig doesn’t fumble against the Giants in 1990 and they beat the Bills and three-peat, he probably never gets ‘let go’ from San Francisco after ’96 and is an easy Hall of Fame coach today.

  • Kibbles

    Personally, I think it’s totally unfair that it’s 2014 and we still allow Luke Johnsos to ride the coattails of Hunk Anderson like that. We all know who the real brains of that operation was.

  • James

    So… where is Dungy then? He didn’t make either list?

    Maybe that’s because he coached at both ends of the spectrum?

  • Richie

    I plugged in the 75 Billicks and the 75 Coryells into a spreadsheet and calculated correlations (I just did some rough guessing to convert the career totals into season averages for each coach).

    Here’s how the various stats correlate to Winning %:
    Difference between offensive TD Scored and Defensive TD allowed: .90 (of course)
    Offensive TD per 16 games: .67
    Defensive TD allowed per 16 games: .54
    Total TD per 16 games: .17