FF Accounting: NFC South Coaching Trends

This is the third post in a series looking at offensive trends of the coaching staffs of the 32 NFL teams. You can read more about the goal of this series in the first installment, which looked at the NFC West.Here is a brief explanation of what you’ll see, taken from that first installment.

Parameters

Because the league itself is changing, we’ll normalize up to five seasons to league average, then do some weighted averaging (looking at most recent seasons more heavily). Plays, pass attempts, and rush attempts will be presented relative to league average for that season, with 100 being average.1 Each total will also be split by position group to look at utilization to give an even more accurate representation of available opportunity in an offense.

Additionally, we’ll provide a 2016 weighted estimate relative to prior trends and a league average projection of 1,030 plays, 567 pass attempts, and 425 rush attempts.2

To be clear, the 2016 estimates presented are the logical conclusion of an experiment where we’re assuming coaches’ preferences dictate everything, but aren’t intended to be taken as gospel. Use them as a data point and make adjustments on a case-by-case basis for specific rosters and other mitigating circumstances to come to a more accurate estimate for what 2016 usage splits might actually look like. Be sure to consult the new Team Splits App for more information as well.

Alright, let’s dive into the NFC South.

New Orleans – Sean Payton

The 2012 season is omitted because Sean Payton was suspended by the NFL.

Payton Year Plays Pass Att Rush Att
Saints 2010 105.6% 122.5% 87.4%
Saints 2011 109.7% 121.7% 98.7%
Saints 2013 103.7% 114.9% 90.2%
Saints 2014 106.9% 117.9% 94.9%
Saints 2015 106.4% 116.6% 94.2%
Wgt Avg   106.4% 117.9% 93.6%
2016 Proj   1096 669 398

Payton and the Saints clearly have an affinity for throwing significantly more than league average, finishing at least 14 percent above league average in pass attempts over his last five seasons roaming the sidelines. Total plays and rush attempts have also remained remarkably stable as skill position players have cycled through around Drew Brees.

Year WR TrgMS TE TrgMS RB TrgMS RB RuAttMS QB RuAttMS
2010 0.54 0.23 0.21 0.92 0.05
2011 0.44 0.25 0.30 0.93 0.06
2013 0.39 0.28 0.31 0.89 0.10
2014 0.46 0.27 0.25 0.89 0.07
2015 0.52 0.23 0.23 0.92 0.06
Wgt Avg 0.47 0.25 0.26 0.91 0.07
2016 Proj 317 169 174 361 27

RB targets dipped a bit last year as C.J. Spiller underwhelmed and Mark Ingram couldn’t carry the vacated load by recent departures of both Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles, but there were still plenty of balls flying to the position overall. The offense still found plenty of use for TEs after Jimmy Graham left, as well.

Projection Tenability: High – There isn’t much objectionable across this entire projection, and it might be one of the cleanest this method has produced.

Atlanta – Kyle Shanahan

Shanahan Year Plays Pass Att Rush Att
Washington 2011 101.4% 108.6% 91.6%
Washington 2012 96.7% 79.5% 119.3%
Washington 2013 106.4% 107.8% 104.5%
Browns 2014 98.6% 89.8% 111.5%
Falcons 2015 104.2% 108.6% 99.9%
Wgt Avg   101.8% 99.4% 105.8%
2016 Proj   1049 564 450

Kyle Shanahan’s tendencies have fluctuated heavily from year to year, though so has his personnel. Robert Griffin was a rookie in 2012 and returned from ACL surgery in 2013, which helps explain some of the fluctuation in pass/run splits during Shanahan’s time in Washington.

Year WR TrgMS TE TrgMS RB TrgMS RB RuAttMS QB RuAttMS
2011 0.57 0.21 0.20 0.91 0.08
2012 0.66 0.20 0.13 0.72 0.24
2013 0.66 0.22 0.10 0.78 0.20
2014 0.70 0.20 0.10 0.90 0.08
2015 0.61 0.16 0.22 0.91 0.09
Wgt Avg 0.64 0.19 0.15 0.85 0.13
2016 Proj 363 108 85 382 59

Prior to 2015, Shanahan teams directed an extremely low percentage of targets toward running backs. Part of that is probably the effect of having Alfred Morris and Isaiah Crowell as lead backs, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Projection Tenability: Low – Shanahan looks like a coach willing to adjust to fit his personnel, perhaps the most pliable of those we’ve looked at thus far. That makes it difficult to project his tendencies for 2016.

Carolina – Ron Rivera/Mike Shula

Offensive coordinator Mike Shula has been with Carolina for the entirety of Ron Rivera’s five seasons with the team, though he operated as the quarterbacks coach under Rob Chudzinski for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. We’ll examine all five seasons.

Rivera/Shula Year Plays Pass Att Rush Att
Panthers 2011 98.2% 95.4% 101.9%
Panthers 2012 96.1% 88.1% 106.2%
Panthers 2013 96.0% 83.5% 111.4%
Panthers 2014 103.5% 97.5% 110.6%
Panthers 2015 103.0% 87.8% 124.8%
Wgt Avg   100.2% 90.2% 113.5%
2016 Proj   1032 511 482

It’s hard to deny the Panthers have a system in place. While total plays have fluctuated somewhat, they’ve consistently been below average in pass attempts and well above average in rush attempts, particularly in the three seasons since Shula’s ascendance to coordinator.

Year WR TrgMS TE TrgMS RB TrgMS RB RuAttMS QB RuAttMS
2011 0.51 0.29 0.19 0.70 0.29
2012 0.59 0.22 0.16 0.70 0.27
2013 0.58 0.24 0.17 0.75 0.24
2014 0.59 0.27 0.13 0.74 0.23
2015 0.56 0.30 0.13 0.71 0.27
Wgt Avg 0.57 0.27 0.15 0.72 0.26
2016 Proj 291 137 75 349 124

You’re going to get a lot of QB rushes and significantly fewer RB targets than those directed at the TE position.

Projection Tenability: High – The weighted averages for pass and rush attempt totals seem very logical, and positional splits fall in line with clear five-year trends.

Tampa Bay – Dirk Koetter

Koetter Year Plays Pass Att Rush Att
Jaguars 2011 98.4% 86.2% 112.0%
Falcons 2012 99.4% 110.6% 86.9%
Falcons 2013 98.4% 116.3% 74.1%
Falcons 2014 101.0% 113.1% 87.0%
Buccaneers 2015 98.6% 93.5% 107.7%
Wgt Avg   99.3% 104.8% 93.1%
2016 Proj   1022 594 396

Dirk Koetter’s offenses went from run-heavy in his last season in Jacksonville to very pass-heavy in his three seasons in Atlanta back to run-heavy in Tampa. The weighted average likes him to be pass-heavy this year, but here’s a situation where it’s probably best to just work off some assumptions from 2015 rather than try to parse what his earlier seasons meant.

Year WR TrgMS TE TrgMS RB TrgMS RB RuAttMS QB RuAttMS
2011 0.55 0.23 0.22 0.88 0.11
2012 0.55 0.22 0.21 0.88 0.10
2013 0.53 0.21 0.24 0.94 0.05
2014 0.69 0.09 0.21 0.90 0.08
2015 0.57 0.19 0.22 0.88 0.12
Wgt Avg 0.59 0.18 0.22 0.90 0.09
2016 Proj 348 104 132 356 36

Well at least we can guess RBs will get between 21 and 24 percent of the targets. That seems like good news for my boy Charles Sims.

Projection Tenability: Low – Not a lot to go off here with respect to Koetter tipping any tendencies.

The Full Series

  1. Anything over 100 is above average, anything under is below.  (back)
  2. An estimate also based on weighted averages with a minor adjustment for recent trends. There is also a projected average of 38 sacks allowed baked in.  (back)

Ben Gretch

Writer. Podcast host. Former and still occasional editor. Previous work at Rotoworld, Draft Sharks. Work cited at NFL.com, Washington Post. Probably a little too obsessed with fantasy football.
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