FF Accounting: NFC East Coaching Trends

Continuing our 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 East, a division where a few head coaches have been promoted with fewer than five years of coordinator experience.

Dallas – Scott Linehan

Linehan was listed as a co-offensive3 coordinator for the 2014 Cowboys, and I’ve included that season here.

Linehan Year Plays Pass Att Rush Att
Lions 2011 104.0% 122.4% 81.5%
Lions 2012 112.9% 133.1% 89.9%
Lions 2013 105.9% 111.9% 102.7%
Cowboys 2014 99.0% 85.2% 118.8%
Cowboys 2015 94.1% 92.5% 96.8%
Wgt Avg 101.5% 103.6% 100.9%
2016 Proj 1045 588 429

With the Lions, Linehan’s offenses threw well above league average, which of course led to some historic seasons for Calvin Johnson. With the Cowboys, the pass attempts rose a bit in 2015 after he took over full reign of the coordinator position, but have stayed below league average both seasons.

Year WR TrgMS TE TrgMS RB TrgMS RB RuAttMS QB RuAttMS
2011 0.55 0.27 0.17 0.87 0.06
2012 0.52 0.28 0.19 0.86 0.09
2013 0.57 0.17 0.25 0.90 0.09
2014 0.57 0.23 0.19 0.93 0.06
2015 0.54 0.25 0.19 0.90 0.07
Wgt Avg 0.55 0.23 0.20 0.90 0.08
2016 Proj 324 138 117 385 32

A steady rate of passes have gone to WRs in Linehan’s offenses, while TEs have generally been utilized more heavily than RBs in the passing game.

Projection Tenability: Low – Linehan’s years in Detroit are inflating the expected play and pass totals relative to his time in Dallas. The positional splits seem logical, but the smart money is probably on projecting fewer pass attempts overall.

New York Giants – Ben McAdoo

McAdoo Year Plays Pass Att Rush Att
Giants 2014 106.0% 108.6% 105.0%
Giants 2015 102.2% 108.9% 95.6%
Wgt Avg 103.7% 108.8% 99.3%
2016 Proj 1068 617 422

While McAdoo has called nearly the same number of pass plays relative to league average in his two seasons as coordinator, the ratio between passes and runs was more dramatic in 2015.

Year WR TrgMS TE TrgMS RB TrgMS RB RuAttMS QB RuAttMS
2014 0.63 0.20 0.16 0.95 0.03
2015 0.57 0.21 0.21 0.94 0.05
Wgt Avg 0.59 0.20 0.19 0.95 0.04
2016 Proj 366 125 117 399 18

McAdoo’s offenses don’t utilize many WR rush attempts and Eli Manning doesn’t run much, so RBs see nearly all the rushing attempts.

Projection Tenability: Medium – We only have two years of data, but the trends seem believable enough.

Philadelphia – Doug Pederson

Pederson has worked under Andy Reid dating back to their time in Philadelphia, but was only a coordinator for three seasons in Kansas City.

Pederson Year Plays Pass Att Rush Att
Chiefs 2013 98.9% 96.3% 102.0%
Chiefs 2014 93.9% 88.2% 98.2%
Chiefs 2015 92.7% 82.7% 103.4%
Wgt Avg 94.7% 88.1% 101.3%
2016 Proj 975 500 430

Pederson’s offenses have maintained impressively stable run/pass splits, and have never reached league average in terms of total plays. That’s particularly notable because the offenses did surpass that mark in Reid’s final two seasons in Philly, and also threw significantly more.

Year WR TrgMS TE TrgMS RB TrgMS RB RuAttMS QB RuAttMS
2013 0.55 0.14 0.28 0.77 0.20
2014 0.44 0.26 0.28 0.87 0.13
2015 0.50 0.26 0.22 0.78 0.20
Wgt Avg 0.49 0.23 0.25 0.81 0.17
2016 Proj 247 116 126 348 75

The target splits have jumped around a bit, but there was clearly a devaluation of the WR position as TEs and RBs are both heavily utilized in the passing game. It will be interesting to see if this carries over, and what it could mean for the stable of receivers Philly has put together.

Projection Tenability: Medium – I don’t know that I trust the specific splits in a new offense, but the idea that this offense would run about five percent fewer plays overall with a definite run-lean is something I can get behind.

Washington – Jay Gruden

Gruden Year Plays Pass Att Rush Att
Bengals 2011 99.7% 98.3% 104.2%
Bengals 2012 98.9% 97.1% 98.8%
Bengals 2013 105.4% 103.6% 111.0%
Washington 2014 98.2% 97.9% 93.7%
Washington 2015 98.1% 97.0% 101.8%
Wgt Avg 99.9% 98.7% 101.4%
2016 Proj 1029 560 431

Other than 2013, Gruden’s offenses have been nearly identical from season to season, with rush attempts fluctuating inverse to sacks allowed. Interestingly, the Bengals played three overtime games in 2013, and ran at least 10 offensive plays in each OT period.

Year WR TrgMS TE TrgMS RB TrgMS RB RuAttMS QB RuAttMS
2011 0.62 0.21 0.14 0.89 0.09
2012 0.68 0.19 0.11 0.83 0.12
2013 0.62 0.23 0.13 0.83 0.14
2014 0.58 0.21 0.19 0.83 0.15
2015 0.57 0.25 0.19 0.93 0.07
Wgt Avg 0.60 0.22 0.16 0.87 0.11
2016 Proj 338 125 90 373 49

RBs saw a fascinatingly low number of targets in Gruden’s time in Cincinnati considering the presence of Gio BernardKirk Cousins seems more likely to target RBs and TEs at the expense of WRs.

Projection Tenability: Medium – We can’t be overly confident in about a league average projection across the board, but Gruden does seem comfortable running a balanced offense.

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)
  3. or “passing game”  (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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