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The Schottenheimer Index

Marty checking to make sure the pilot light is out.

Marty inquires as to whether Felix Wright's pilot light is out.

Last week, Neil brought us the latest iteration of the Manning Index, showing which quarterbacks have overachieved in the playoffs relative to expectation (based off of the Vegas line). I’m going to do the same today for coaches. A couple of introductory notes:

Neil described the exact methodology in his quarterbacks post, so I won’t waste time repeating it. However, I wanted to look at coaches over an even longer period, and 1950 sounded like a good cut-off.1 Since we don’t have point-spread data for games from 1950 to 19772, I simply used the projected point spread based on the differential between each team’s SRS ratings and by awarding the home team three points. So for pre-1977 games, coaches are credited with wins over expectation based on the SRS, and for post-1977, for wins over expectation based on the Vegas line. Here are the results.

RankCoachFirstLastTeamsGAct WExp WIndex
1Joe Gibbs19822007was241712.34.7
2Tom Coughlin19962011jax-nyg19127.94.1
3Chuck Noll19721989pit241613.22.8
4John Harbaugh20082012rav1285.32.7
5Jimmy Johnson19911999dal-mia1396.62.4
6Bill Belichick19942012cle-nwe261815.82.2
7Vince Lombardi19601967gnb1096.92.1
8Bill Parcells19842006nyg-nwe-nyj-dal19118.92.1
9Tom Flores19801985rai11862
10Rex Ryan20092010nyj6422
11Weeb Ewbank19581969clt-nyj542.21.8
12Ken Whisenhunt20082009crd642.21.8
13Dan Reeves19832002den-nyg-atl20119.31.7
14Bill Walsh19811988sfo14108.31.7
15Hank Stram19621971kan853.41.6
16Don McCafferty19701971clt542.71.3
17Brian Billick20002006rav853.71.3
18Bum Phillips19781980oti742.71.3
19John Fox20032012car-den1164.71.3
20Raymond Berry19851986nwe531.71.3
21Blanton Collier19641969cle731.81.2
22George Wilson19571957det220.91.1
23Buddy Parker19521954det4321
24John Madden19691977rai1698.10.9
25Jim Harbaugh20112012sfo432.20.8
26Jerry Burns19871989min632.30.7
27Joe Stydahar19501951ram321.40.6
28Marv Levy19881996buf191110.40.6
29Vince Tobin19981998crd210.40.6
30Sam Wyche19881990cin532.60.4
31Buck Shaw19601960phi110.60.4
32Jim Lee Howell19561959nyg421.60.4
33Dom Capers19961996car210.60.4
34Bill Cowher19922005pit211211.60.4
35Mike Holmgren19932007gnb-sea241312.60.4
36Mike Shanahan19962012den-was1487.60.4
37Mike Tice20042004min210.60.4
38Ray Malavasi19781980ram632.60.4
39Jim Haslett20002000nor210.60.4
40Ray Perkins19811981nyg210.60.4
41Norv Turner19992009was-sdg843.70.3
42Lou Rymkus19601960oti110.70.3
43Jerry Glanville19871991oti-atl732.70.3
44Pete Carroll19972012nwe-sea732.70.3
45Rich Kotite19921992phi210.70.3
46Dave Wannstedt19942001chi-mia521.80.2
47Gary Kubiak20112012htx421.80.2
48Mike Tomlin20072011pit854.80.2
49John Robinson19831989ram1043.80.2
50Ray Rhodes19951996phi310.80.2
51Mike Holovak19631963nwe210.80.2
52Jeff Fisher19992008oti1154.80.2
53George Halas19501963chi210.80.2
54Walt Michaels19811982nyj421.80.2
55Sean Payton20062011nor854.80.2
56Barry Switzer19941996dal754.80.2
57Andy Reid20002010phi19109.90.1
58Wally Lemm19611969oti310.90.1
59Lou Saban19631974buf421.90.1
60Tom Landry19661985dal362019.90.1
61Bart Starr19821982gnb210.90.1
62Ted Marchibroda19751995clt6220
63Mike McCarthy20072012gnb10660
64Bill Callahan20022002rai3220
65Bud Carson19891989cle2110
66Jim Mora20042004atl2110
67Jack Del Rio20052007jax3110
68Jon Gruden20002007rai-tam955.1-0.1
69Art Shell19901993rai522.2-0.2
70Leslie Frazier20122012min100.2-0.2
71Jim Schwartz20112011det100.2-0.2
72John Rauch19671968rai422.2-0.2
73June Jones19951995atl100.2-0.2
74Bruce Coslet19911991nyj100.3-0.3
75Eric Mangini20062006nyj100.3-0.3
76Butch Davis20022002cle100.3-0.3
77Lindy Infante19961996clt100.3-0.3
78Herman Edwards20012006nyj-kan622.3-0.3
79Dick Nolan19701972sfo522.3-0.3
80Chuck Pagano20122012clt100.3-0.3
81Neill Armstrong19791979chi100.3-0.3
82Steve Owen19501950nyg100.3-0.3
83John McKay19791982tam411.3-0.3
84Hampton Pool19521952ram100.4-0.4
85Brad Childress20082009min311.4-0.4
86Jim Hanifan19821982crd100.4-0.4
87Forrest Gregg19811982cin422.4-0.4
88Lovie Smith20052010chi633.4-0.4
89Tony Sparano20082008mia100.4-0.4
90Todd Haley20102010kan100.4-0.4
91John Mackovic19861986kan100.4-0.4
92Chuck Fairbanks19761976nwe100.4-0.4
93Bobby Ross19921999sdg-det833.4-0.4
94Dan Devine19721972gnb100.4-0.4
95Nick Skorich19711972cle200.5-0.5
96Joe Collier19661966buf100.5-0.5
97Joe Walton19851986nyj311.5-0.5
98Pop Ivy19621962oti100.5-0.5
99Frankie Albert19571957sfo100.5-0.5
100George Seifert19891996sfo151010.5-0.5
101Red Miller19771979den522.5-0.5
102Jim Fassel19972002nyg522.6-0.6
103Steve Mariucci19972002sfo733.6-0.6
104Ron Meyer19821987nwe-clt200.6-0.6
105Paddy Driscoll19561956chi100.6-0.6
106Dick Jauron20012001chi100.6-0.6
107Jim Caldwell20092010clt422.6-0.6
108Joe Schmidt19701970det100.6-0.6
109Monte Clark19821983det200.6-0.6
110Hank Bullough19781978nwe100.7-0.7
111Leeman Bennett19781982atl411.7-0.7
112Mike Ditka19841991chi1266.8-0.8
113Sam Rutigliano19801982cle200.9-0.9
114Allie Sherman19611963nyg300.9-0.9
115Tony Dungy19972008tam-clt1999.9-0.9
116Dick Vermeil19782003phi-ram-kan1167-1
117Chan Gailey19981999dal201-1
118Wayne Fontes19911995det512.2-1.2
119Mike Sherman20012004gnb623.3-1.3
120Bud Grant19681982min221011.3-1.3
121Mike Smith20082012atl512.4-1.4
122Chuck Knox19731988ram-buf-sea1878.5-1.5
123Mike Martz20002004ram734.5-1.5
124Sid Gillman19551965ram-sdg612.5-1.5
125Buddy Ryan19881990phi301.6-1.6
126Don Coryell19741982crd-sdg934.6-1.6
127Marvin Lewis20052012cin401.8-1.8
128Don Shula19641995clt-mia361920.8-1.8
129Jack Pardee19771993chi-oti612.8-1.8
130George Allen19671976ram-was923.8-1.8
131Wade Phillips19932009den-buf-dal613-2
132Dennis Green19922000min1246.3-2.3
133Paul Brown19501975cle-cin1246.5-2.5
134Jim Mora19872000nor-clt603.5-3.5
135Marty Schottenheimer19852006cle-kan-sdg1859.3-4.3

  • By clicking on the Index column, you can sort the table in reverse order. After doing so, you can see why this is called the Schottenheimer Index. Marty lost two games where his teams were 10.5-point underdogs (1985 in Miami, 1991 in Buffalo), but what really hurt him was an 0-8 record in games featuring a three-point (or smaller) spread. This includes The Drive, The Fumble, a game where his third-string quarterback threw a game-clinching 4th quarter interception when trailing by 5, and loss in Miami when Dan Marino threw two 4th quarter touchdowns to give Miami a 17-16 win. Schottenheimer also lost three games as five-point favorites: the Lin Elliot game against the Colts, in overtime against the Jets,3 and the famous Marlon McCree game against New England.
  • Joe Gibbs had two bad playoff games. While Washington may have been only a two-point favorite against the Raiders in Super Bowl XVII, the Redskins were the defending Super Bowl champions and just set the record for the points scored in the regular season. They were embarrassed 38-9. In their next playoff game eleven months later, Washington lost as nine-point home favorites to the Bears. In Gibbs’ 22 other playoff games, Washington went 17-5, with all five losses coming in road games where the Redskins were at least 3.5-point underdogs (and in four of them, the Redskins were getting at least a touchdown).
  • Tom Coughlin led two of the five biggest playoff upsets since 1950, at least according to Vegas (or the SRS). The five largest underdogs to win: the Jets (+18) in Super Bowl III, the Patriots (+14) in Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams, a bad 1977 Vikings team (SRS of -1.6) on the road against a Rams team that beat them 35-3 earlier in the year in Los Angeles, the Giants (+12.5) in Super Bowl XLII against the Patriots, and the Jaguars (+12.5) against the Broncos after the 1996 season. But Coughlin incredibly won four other games despite being touchdown underdogs, and is 4-1 when the spread is within three points.
  • John Harbaugh is mostly here thanks to this great postseason run, as winning in Denver and in New England was worth 1.45 wins. If the Ravens beat the 49ers, he’ll jump into the third slot on the list.
  • Obviously all of Vince Lombardi’s games came before 1977, so I used the SRS for most of those lines. In 10 playoff games, he was a favorite 8 times. The two exceptions came in 1966 at Dallas (+0.2) and 1967 at home against a Rams team (+1.2). In six of his playoff wins, the SRS (or, for the two Super Bowls, the Vegas line) put the Packers as at least 9-point favorites. Lombardi’s teams were too good to give him that much credit for exceeding expectations, although a seventh-place finish isn’t too shabby.
  • Bill Parcells with the Giants: +2.9. With the Patriots: +0.1. With the Jets: 0 (two playoff games, won as a 9-point favorite, lost as a 9-point underdog). With the Cowboys: -0.9. Obligatory Tony Romo reference.
  • I can’t add anything to the Bill Belichick discussion that would differ from what Neil wrote about Tom Brady, so I’ll just note that with the Browns, Belichick won as a 3-point favorite against New England and lost as a 3.5-point underdog against Pittsburgh.
  • Paul Brown is an interesting case. The NFL does not officially recognize Cleveland’s records from their time in the AAFC, when Brown led them to five playoff victories and four championships (although the Pro Football Hall of Fame does). That caveat aside, Brown fares pretty poorly here. In the NFL, his playoff record was 4-8, and half of those wins came in 1950, the Browns first year in the NFL. Even ignoring his time in Cincinnati (0-3), he went 1-4 in games with a three-point spread and also lost to a far inferior Lions team 17-16 in the 1953 title game. Cleveland started that season 11-0, lost a meaningless final game, and then lost in Detroit. The 1951 Browns were just as good, but also allowed a fourth-quarter comeback to lose the title to the Rams. And despite being better than Detroit again in 1957, Cleveland was throttled 59-14. On the plus side, Cleveland did exact some revenge against Detroit in the middle, winning 56-10 in the 1954 title game.

Some final thoughts.

Doug came up with this idea six years ago, when he called it the Dungy Index (itself a revival of an earlier post). 4 As a reminder of the environment we were in at that time, consider Doug’s closing thoughts:

In the span of five weeks last year, Bill Cowher turned from A Coach Who Can’t Win The Big One to unquestionably one of the best coaches of his generation. I don’t have inside knowledge, but I can only assume that happened because he radically changed everything about the way he coached. I mean, what else could possibly explain how a Coach Who Can’t Win The Big One could win the big one?

As of right now, it appears that Tony Dungy might have completely and totally changed his coaching style and philosophy too, but we can’t be sure about that until next Sunday.

Spoiler: Dungy won on Sunday, and now he’s no longer a choker, either.

One final note. Please keep in mind that this measures a coach’s (team’s) postseason performance relative to his (team’s) postseason expectations. Knowing that Marty Schottenheimer scores poorly here does not tell us whether he deserves blame for underachieving in the postseason or credit for overachieving during the regular season. I also note that while I find this concept interesting, I make no claim that it holds any predictive value (to the extent such a concept makes sense when talking about retired coaches).

  1. Note that coaches, like Paul Brown, who coached before 1950 are included, but their pre-1950 stats are not. []
  2. One other piece of fine print: for the Super Bowls, I used the actual Vegas lines, since those are readily available. []
  3. Some have understandably called this the Nate Kaeding game, since he missed a 40-yard field goal in overtime that would have won the game. I won’t do that for two reasons. One, the Chargers ran LaDainian Tomlinson three times for no gain once they got to the 22, a move that was unnecessarily conservative. But more importantly, the game never should have gone to overtime. Trailing 17-10 with 24 seconds left, San Diego had 4th and goal from the Jets two-yard line. Well, Drew Brees’ pass for Antonio Gates was incomplete, but the drive was kept alive by a roughing the passer penalty on Eric Barton. The call was correct, but it was a gift for the Chargers just to get to overtime. []
  4. Then I came up with my first Schottenheimer Index six years ago, although with a crude formula that does not hold up well on repeat reading (at least, in my opinion). []
  • Joe Gibbs!

    I assume there’s more to this index than the Manning one? To which there’s nothing, so I guess it’s not a high standard. But I can’t think of alternative ways to measure coaching, as opposed to the plenty of other ways to measure quarterbacking.

  • Shattenjager

    I always refer to making over-conservative coaching moves as “Schottenheimering.” (e.g., “John Fox Schottenheimered the end of both halves of the Broncos-Ravens game.”) His actions in footnote three are a good example of why, even though, thanks to Jason Lisk, that particular maneuver will always be associated with Gary Kubiak for me.

  • Danish

    I need help with the caption. Pilot light?

    • Chase Stuart

      If you watch NFL Films/NFL Network enough, there are some good Marty soundclips. One of them is him (talking to the Browns, IIRC) with everyone in a huddle before a playoff game and him saying “If this doesn’t light your fire, men, then the pilot light’s out.”

      • Danish

        God I miss Marty.

        • Independent George

          The really painful Marty clip was from a practice before the Marlon McCree game, when he tells his DBs to just fall down if they make the game-clinching interception.

          His conservative playcalling rightly deserves criticism, but he was also significantly less lucky than the average coach.

          • Richie

            The really painful Marty clip was from a practice before the Marlon McCree game, when he tells his DBs to just fall down if they make the game-clinching interception.

            I hadn’t heard that story. This is just more evidence that Marty is a terrible coach who chokes in the playoffs.

            • Tim

              Marlon McCree wasn’t even the worst offender that game. Drayton Florence headbutted an opponent after the Chargers stopped Brady on 3rd down. This was after the play was over! Automatic first down and Brady and Co. go and drive for a score when they would have probably punted on 4th. In a game that close, you can’t just give Brady extra chances like that.

  • Tom Gower

    Jeff Fisher comes out better than I would have expected, which I guess means the success of 1999 basically balances out the failures that came later.

    • Chase Stuart

      He was +1.4 in ’99, -1.3 the rest of his career, although all of that came in the two Ravens losses (2000, 2008). Those were the only two times in the playoffs he lost as a favorite. OTOH, he was only 2-4 as an underdog.

      Year    rd      tm      pf      opp     pa      Spread  ProbW   W/L     Index
      1999	c	oti	33	jax	14	 7	30.7%	1	 0.69
      1999	d	oti	19	clt	16	 5.5	34.6%	1	 0.65
      1999	w	oti	22	buf	16	-5.0	64.1%	1	 0.36
      1999	s	oti	16	ram	23	 7.0	30.7%	0	-0.31
      2000	d	oti	10	rav	24	-6.0	66.7%	0	-0.67
      2002	d	oti	34	pit	31	-4.5	62.7%	1	 0.37
      2002	c	oti	24	rai	41	 9	25.8%	0	-0.26
      2003	w	oti	20	rav	17	-1	52.9%	1	 0.47
      2003	d	oti	14	nwe	17	 6	33.3%	0	-0.33
      2007	w	oti	6	sdg	17	10	23.5%	0	-0.24
      2008	d	oti	10	rav	13	-3.0	58.6%	0	-0.59
      • Tom Gower

        Interesting. Thanks.

  • Tim Truemper

    Wonderinmg how Don Shula and Tom Landry come out given their frequent trips to the playoffs and numerous games.

    • Richie

      Click “Index” to get the bottom of the list.

      And speaking of Shula, I think maybe all indices are not created equal. Shula is tied with Jack Pardee, Marvin Lewis and George Allen at 128 with a -1.8 index. Shula was expected to win 20.8 playoff games, but actually won 19. Lewis was expected to win 1.8 but won zero.

      After 36 playoff games, Shula got to within 1.8 of his expected wins. That doesn’t exactly strike me as being one of the “worst” playoff coaches.

      • Richie

        Dang it. That last sentence sounded snotty. Not what I intended.

        • Chase Stuart

          You are grandfathered in to the ‘can’t sound snotty’ group, Richie.

          Agree that a Exp Wins/Gs played column would add something to the table.

    • Chase Stuart

      In addition to the sorting feature, there is a search box. I always wonder how many people use that. I hope most, but I dunno.

  • Wrecktangle

    Noticed that your data set of point spread data ends at 1977. I have back to 1970 (took a lot of digging to get this). Swap you for box score data over 1981-1970?