Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Final Argument in the Coach Debate

I've been monitoring and debating a phenomenon in which former coaches (and to some extent QBs) do better against their old team than would be expected. And I think I just found the trump card.

I read the recap for the New England/Denver game. For those who don't know, the Broncos were 4-0 heading into the game and New England was a respectable 3-1. The game was at Denver, and Denver was a 3.5 point underdog.

Now on to the interesting stuff: Denver's new head coach was the old offensive coordinator under Bill Belichick. He just left New England this past year. Below is the wikipedia entry Josh McDaniel's time at New England:

McDaniels joined the Patriots in 2001 as a personnel assistant. From 2002 to 2003, he served as a defensive coaching assistant for the team, working with the defensive backs in 2003. In 2004, he became the team's quarterbacks coach. McDaniels was with the New England Patriots for all three of their Super Bowl championships, Super Bowl XXXVI, Super Bowl XXXVIII, and Super Bowl XXXIX. After offensive coordinator Charlie Weis left the team following the 2004 season, the Patriots did not name an offensive coordinator for the 2005 season. According to The New York Times, in 2008, it was McDaniels who called the offensive plays for the 2005 season, although suggestions to that effect were made in 2005.[2][4] After the season, McDaniels was officially promoted to offensive coordinator, while retaining his responsibilities coaching the team's quarterbacks.

In the 2007 season, with McDaniels at the helm of the offense, the Patriots set NFL records, scoring 75 touchdowns (67 on offense, 50 passing and 17 rushing) and 589 points, leading to rumors that McDaniels might leave the Patriots for a head coaching job.[5] McDaniels withdrew his name from consideration, however, during the Patriots' January 2008 playoff run. Shortly after the Patriots' loss in Super Bowl XLII, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick gave McDaniels a five-page typed report on what it takes to be an effective head coach and run a winning organization, which McDaniels termed "his bible." Throughout the 2008 season, the two would meet to discuss the report and allow McDaniels to ask non-coaching questions that he brought to later head coaching interviews.[6]

In the 2008 season, McDaniels led the offense to an 11-5 record with quarterback Matt Cassel, the only known NFL quarterback ever to start an NFL game without ever starting at quarterback in college. McDaniels' role in developing Cassel has been cited as one of his qualifications for head coaching jobs.

Those are pretty important details. The man knows New England and everything about their current roster, and especially about Tom Brady. After all, he was their QB coach for several years.

And as fate would have it, Denver upset New England, winning in overtime. More tellingly, Brady threw for 215 yards, and New England didn't score in the second half. He stymied their offense and heralded QB.

So after reading this I wasn't very surprised and was happy I found another instance in which a former coach did better than average against his old team. Then I found my biggest piece of data:

With the loss, Belichick fell to 8-7 against his former assistants.

Let me write that again, for emphasis:

With the loss, Belichick fell to 8-7 against his former assistants.

Bill Belichick, the greatest coach in the NFL since the millenium started, with more Super Bowl Rings, more victories, the longest winning streaks, the unstoppable force in the NFL, is barely over .500 against his former assistant coaches.

So Belichick, coaching the best team of the last decade, going against 1st time head coaches on teams SO BAD THEY FIRED THEIR PREVIOUS HEAD COACH, is barely winning half his games?

Think about that.

It gives you everything you need to know.

It tells you why the Packers so desperately wanted to avoid Favre coming back to the NFC north. Why Belichick was so furious Eric Mancini went to the NY Jets, a divisional rival.

This statistic about Belichick struggling so much against his assistants settles the debate. If Belichick is only 8-7, the rest of the league's coaches must be terrible.

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