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Which coaches are the most pass happy?

Mike  Smith checks the score, calls for a pass.

Mike Smith checks the score, calls for a pass.

One reason I came up with the concept of Game Scripts was to identify the most pass-happy coaches. Remember, a team’s Game Script score is simply their average scoring differential over each second of every game. Last year, the Falcons were the most pass-happy team in the NFL after adjusting for Game Scripts; Atlanta had the 5th highest Game Script (average lead of 3.6 points) and the 7th highest Pass/Run Ratio (63.0%). To put that in perspective, none of the other top 16 teams in Game Scripts had a Pass/Run Ratio of even sixty percent. The Falcons used to be run-heavy, of course, but as Michael Turner aged while Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White matured, they’ve become a passing team.

There will be 64 head coaches and offensive coordinators in 2013; I went back and looked at every season those coaches were either head coaches or offensive coordinators in the NFL.1 Two head coaches — Gus Bradley in Jacksonville and Chip Kelly in Philadelphia — have never been a head coach or offensive coordinator at the NFL level. In addition, the following seven offensive coordinators will be entering those roles for the first time, too: Harold Goodwin (Arizona), Nathaniel Hackett (Buffalo), Adam Gase (Denver), Pep Hamilton (Indianapolis), Jedd Fisch (Jacksonville), Doug Pederson (Kansas City), and Dowell Loggains (Tennessee). The table below shows the career Game Scripts averages, Pass/Run Ratios, and Pass Identities for the other 55 head coaches/offensive coordinators entering 2013.

Here’s how to read the table: Joe Philbin has been the most pass-happy OC/HC of the current coaches. He will be the Dolphins head coach in 2013, and has spent six seasons as either a head coach or offensive coordinator. The average Game Script score in each of his six seasons has been 3.8, and his teams have averaged a 58.8% pass rate.2 Philbin’s Game Script rating is 122.5, which means his team’s Game Script has been about 1.5 standard deviations above average (100 is average, 115 is one standard deviation above average, 130 is two standard deviations, etc.); Philbin’s Pass rating is 107.6, which indicates that his pass/run ratio is above one-half standard deviations above average. Take those two together, and he has a passing identity of 30.1, the highest in the league.

Rk2013 Pos2013 TmCoach#YrsGame ScriptPassSCRIPTPASSIDENTITY
1HCMIAJoe Philbin63.858.8%122.5107.630.1
2HCBUFDoug Marrone31.261.1%106.7120.727.4
3OCCHIAaron Kromer10.365.3%101.2124.325.5
4HCKCAndy Reid141.959.4%112111.923.9
5OCNOPete Carmichael51.161.7%106.2117.323.5
6HCNOSean Payton92.259%112.6109.922.4
7OCBALJim Caldwell3-0.462.8%97.512320.5
8HCNEBill Belichick183.356.1%118.510018.5
9OCNYJMarty Mornhinweg130.559.2%103.111114.1
10HCCHIMarc Trestman80.259.4%101112.813.8
11HCDETJim Schwartz4-2.163.9%88.8124.913.6
12OCNEJosh McDaniels72.157.4%110.5102.613.2
13HCATLMike Smith53.356%118.394.412.6
14HCGBMike McCarthy13157.9%105.6106.211.7
15HCDALJason Garrett7060.1%100.5110.911.4
16HCPITMike Tomlin62.955.7%116.993.910.8
17OCDALBill Callahan71.257.3%107.5102.910.4
18OCMIAMike Sherman9157.4%105.8104.510.3
19OCNYGKevin Gilbride19-0.158.5%99.6107.36.9
20HCARIBruce Arians91.556.4%108.898.16.9
21HCWASMike Shanahan262.553.9%
22OCWASKyle Shanahan5-0.258.5%98.31086.3
23HCTENMike Munchak2-261.5%91.5114.66.1
24OCSDKen Whisenhunt9-0.258.2%99.7105.85.5
25OCDETScott Linehan11-1.860.3%89.81154.8
26OCCLENorv Turner221.355.7%106.498.44.8
27HCSDMike McCormack6-354.5%87.2117.64.8
28OCTBMike Sullivan10.158.7%100.3103.73.9
29HCTBGreg Schiano10.158.7%100.3103.73.9
30HCINDChuck Pagano1-1.160.3%95.2108.63.8
31HCHOUGary Kubiak182.654%
32HCNYGTom Coughlin17155.8%10597.42.4
33HCCINMarvin Lewis100.456.5%101.9100.22.1
34OCGBTom Clements31.954.5%109.792.42.1
35OCCINJay Gruden21.456.7%105.896.11.9
36HCBALJohn Harbaugh53.253.3%117.784.11.8
37HCSEAPete Carroll70.456.6%100.6100.81.4
38OCHOURick Dennison60.755.1%103.293.4-3.4
39HCCARRon Rivera21.354.6%106.789.6-3.6
40OCMINBill Musgrave5-0.555.9%96.399.1-4.6
41HCSFJim Harbaugh24.250.1%121.573-5.5
42OCSFGreg Roman24.250.1%121.573-5.5
43OCOAKGreg Olson6-3.759.6%78.7112.3-9
44OCSEADarrell Bevell71.352.6%106.784.2-9.1
45OCPHIPat Shurmur4-3.359.7%81.6108.9-9.5
46HCSTLJeff Fisher180.453.3%101.988.3-9.8
47HCOAKDennis Allen1-6.763.6%71118.8-10.2
48OCPITTodd Haley7-257.4%88.4101.3-10.3
49OCSTLBrian Schottenheimer70.653.4%103.785.4-10.8
50HCCLERob Chudzinski5-0.854.9%94.893.2-12
51OCATLDirk Koetter6-0.854.9%94.690-15.4
52HCMINLeslie Frazier3-0.754.3%94.388.4-17.3
53HCDENJohn Fox11-0.152.5%98.683.7-17.7
54OCCARMike Shula4-0.249.3%9976.7-24.3
55HCNYJRex Ryan40.150.5%101.972.6-25.5

Philbin’s high score comes from his years as the offensive coordinator in Green Bay, but I’m not sure how much credit he really deserves for that (he was not the playcaller and coached under an offensive head coach). Last year, the Dolphins had the 27th highest Pass Identity. In my opinion, you could make a pretty good case that Andy Reid is the most pass-happy coach in the NFL and one of the most passer-friendly coaches in history. Here are his yearly ratings:

YearRecordGame ScriptPassScriptPassIdentity

In 2004, with Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens, the Eagles passed on 62.1% of their pass plays despite having an average lead of 4.8 points in every second of their games. Reid’s Eagles were generally pass happy, and his first and last years in Philadelphia were his two most run-heavy seasons. It’s hard to know how that will play out in 2013, because the 2012 Chiefs had by far the strongest rushing identity (i.e., run/pass ratio after adjusting for Game Script) of any team last year. Kansas City has been a run-heavy team for years, and it’s hard to imagine Kansas City trusting Alex Smith more than Jamaal Charles.

The Jets will be another interesting team to watch. Rex Ryan has been the most run-heavy coach in the league, but he seems ready to move on from his “ground and pound” philosophy. It’s difficult to see a pass-heavy attack based around Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith succeeding, but Marty Mornhinweg was brought in as a breath of fresh air after the failed Tony Sparano experiment. The Jets old offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, is coaching under another run-heavy coach in St. Louis. But the Rams seem ready to air it out this year under Sam Bradford, after signing Jake Long and Jared Cook, and drafting Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.

  1. At least, according to my database. I won’t have missed any head coaching years, but it’s possible I’ve missed some seasons where a coach was also an offensive coordinator. []
  2. This is an average of the seasonal averages, not an average of the totals. []
  • Shattenjager

    In the last sentence of paragraph two, it should say 55 head coaches/offensive coordinators instead of 57.

    I’m surprised Marc Trestman doesn’t come out higher. I remember noting when you introduced game scripts that he had coordinated the most pass-happy offense of all time (’95 SF) and another in the top dozen (’02 Oak) and he wasn’t a coordinator for long enough that I expected his other seasons to pull it down much, and yet he sits below several guys, some of whom have coached for several years.

    I was surprised by Atlanta’s pass-happiness all season based on my perception of Dirk Koetter’s history, and it looks even weirder from these numbers. I guess it hammers home how much the personnel dictates what the coaches are calling.

    • Chase Stuart

      Trestman has two monster years, as you noted, but his time in Arizona was “run-heavy.” In 2000, the Cardinals were given a pass identity of -23 because they had a horrible Game Scripts average of -9.2! As a result, their 63% pass rate makes them look run heavy (46.5 Game Script/130.5 Pass Identity). In 1999, the Cards were just normal terrible (Game Scripts of -5.6) but only passed 60.4% of the time (particularly odd given their anemic 3.0 YPC average).

      In any event, no doubt Trestman’s history has been very pass-happy. Those two years in Arizona and the ’03 Raiders team with Mirer pulled the average down.

      Agree completely on Koetter. We saw what happened when he and Mularkey traded places last year.