Yesterday, I looked at the most pass-happy active head coaches and offensive coordinators in the NFL. If you’ve been a loyal reader of my previous posts on Game Scripts, you understand the methodology I’ve used today to grade each coaches. The quick summary is I’ve come up with the term “Game Scripts” to determine the average points margin over each of the 3600 seconds in each game; from there, I also came up with Game Scripts scores for each season. If you then take each coach’s pass/run ratio, adjust for the league average pass/run ratio, and then adjust for Game Scripts, then you can determine each coach’s passing identity. I’ve done this for every season since 1940.
The table below lists the 252 coaches I have in my database who have been either a head coach or an offensive coordinator for at least four seasons. I suggest using the search box to find your favorite coaches, but as always, all columns are sortable, too. In the table below, the number of HC/OC seasons includes all seasons, but the games, wins, losses, ties, winning percentage, and wins over .500 columns all include only the coach’s records as a head coach. The Game Script column shows each coach’s average Game Scripts average over each season, while the “P/R” column does the same for pass/run ratio. The next three columns are all indexes centered around 100. The “SCRIPT” column is the Game Scripts rating, the “PASS” column is the Pass/Run Ratio rating, and the Pass Identity column is a combination of the two columns. (You can read some of the other Game Scripts articles for more explanation). Based on his time in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers, Joe Philbin comes in as the most pass-happy coach, but that number seems likely to decline the longer he coaches. George Seifert built his reputation as the defensive coordinator for the 49ers, but having Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Jerry Rice turned him into a pass-friendly coach. As for the next two men on the list, modern NFL fans need no further explanation.
I’ll give you some quick thoughts, but I’d love to hear your reaction in the comments. For the most part, these results aren’t surprising. Rex Ryan, Jack Del Rio, and Romeo Crennel rank as very run-heavy coaches, which jives with what we have all witnessed over the last few years. Bill Belichick is the most pass-happy coach among the group with 150 wins. It helps to have Tom Brady, although Belichick had some pass-happy years in Cleveland, too. Take a look at his yearly results:
It’s easy to think of the old ’70s Dolphins when thinking of Don Shula, but the Larry Csonka years weren’t enough to overshadow the Dan Marino and Johnny Unitas seasons. Shula’s teams hovered right around league average in pass/run ratio, but since his teams were generally very good, he gets labeled as a passing coach. The table below shows Shula’s yearly results:
While Shula might be more pass-happy than his reputation, Paul Brown goes the other way. Brown is rightly remembered as a passing innovator, and he and Otto Graham gave the Browns an unstoppable offense for close to a decade. But he also coached Jim Brown for six years, and had some run-heavy teams with the Bengals in the pre-Bill Walsh days.
And, just because, how about Saint Vince?