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December 15, 2017

Where does Doug Pederson rank in new 'Head Coach Rating?'

There's an interesting new website, similar in some ways to ProFootballFocus, that is now grading head coaches based on 'a proprietary algorithm utilizing rigorous qualitative judgments that considers a head coach’s performance in 5 key areas.' It is called and was started by Don Yee, the player agent for Tom Brady.

To note, it's nowhere near as complex as they make it sound, with their 'proprietary algorithm' mumbo jumbo. The five key areas noted above are play calling, personnel utilization, game planning, in-game adjustments, and clock management. 

Here is how they describe each of those key areas:

1) Play Calling: We grade the quality of the offensive, defensive and special teams play calls, and also determine how well or poorly each head coach makes these play calls within the context of particular situations within a game. Within this factor, we also consider 2-point PAT decisions (e.g., our general rule is that no 2 pt PAT decision should be considered/tried until there are 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter), 4th down decisions, and challenge plays.

#JimmyNote: I completely disagree with the 'general rule is that no 2 pt PAT decision should be considered/tried until there are 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter.' That's ridiculous. So I guess I would also be curious what other general rules they consider.

2) Personnel Utilization: We grade how well each head coach utilizes the personnel available to him on the roster. For example, if a particular running back is not a good pass catcher, but a head coach runs a pass play to him on a key 3rd down situation, our conclusion would be the head coach did not do a good job with his personnel on that particular play. This also could, of course, happen on defense. For example, if a head coach has his best pass rusher dropping into coverage too often, perhaps this also may not be prudent given the context of that particular game.

#JimmyNote: That makes sense. For example, when Doug Pederson ran a swing pass to Kenjon Barner, the Eagles' fourth running back, on a key fourth down play against Seattle, I think the personnel on that play was open to second-guessing.

3) Game Planning: We grade the strategic soundness of the offensive and defensive game plans for each game. We want to determine the efficacy of each team’s strategy as it enters the game, and whether the judgment made by each head coach regarding the path to victory or competitiveness is reasonable and sound.

#JimmyNote: I don't know how they can do that without knowledge of what the game plan was. It feels like there would be a whole lot of guessing here.

4) In-Game Adjustments: One of the most fun aspects of professional football is the ‘chess match’ dynamic, i.e., how well does each competitor respond to the moves of the other? If a defensive end is constantly winning a one-on-one matchup versus an offensive tackle, will the head coach respond by adjusting his offense so that a running back or a tight end ‘chips’ that defensive end? We will grade how well each head coach responds to changing conditions during the game.

#JimmyNote: Again, this idea certainly makes sense, but the execution of it is difficult, as many in-game adjustments are very subtle, and may not even be reactions to individual matchups being lost.

5) Clock Management: The use of time outs, play clock management, and tempo changes – particularly on offense – are critical to proper game management technique by head coaches. These decisions can directly impact winning and losing, and we will grade how well each coach performs in this area.

#JimmyNote: This one is obvious.

According to 'Head Coach Ranking,' Doug Pederson is rated third in the NFL, behind Bill Belichick and Sean Payton.

Here is how they ranked Pederson (on a 1-10 scale) in each of the five key areas:

  1. Play calling: 7.4
  2. Personnel: 8.1
  3. Game plan: 8.2
  4. In-game adjustments: 7.5
  5. Clock management: 8.0

The low grade (comparatively speaking) on Pederson's play calling may be attributable to his aggressive style. As noted above, 'Head Coaching Ranking' does not see any scenario worth going for two until the final five minutes of a game. It stands to reason they probably disagree with many of Pederson's fourth-down decisions, even though they've been very effective.

Rating coaches is an interesting concept and one that's almost surprising in that it doesn't already exist. However, personally, I'm a 'show your work' kind of guy. I believe that further explanation on why each coach was graded the way they were from game to game would make for a more interesting product offering.

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