We spend a lot of time talking about players, rosters, and which sets of personnel match up best against one another. But often overlooked in our analysis for the season, and for betting on football in general, is coaching.
Part of that is because other than NFL wins and losses, there is no conventional stat to measure a coach. And wins and losses, while a great measure of teams, can be shaky at best when measuring a coach. Take Matt Nagy, for example, who was NFL Coach of the Year in 2018 when his Bears won 12 games.
That year Nagy won more games than Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, and Mike Tomlin. No one believes that Nagy was better than any of those NFL coaches that season or any season.
Cold, Hard Football Facts has an Intelligence Index, which is an unconventional stat that does a good job of separating the smart and well-coached teams from the not-so-well-coached, using a combination of offensive and defensive efficiency.
Not surprisingly, the Steelers and Patriots regularly score high on this index, even if they do still make the occasional coaching blunder.
Mike Tomlin’s Mitch Miscalculation
Pittsburgh’s defense got to Joe Burrow for seven sacks, they forced five turnovers, and they came away from their game in Cincinnati ranked fourth in the Cold, Hard Football Facts stat Defensive Real NFL Quarterback Rating. But they nearly lost because of the awfulness of Mitch Trubisky.
Wanting to protect your rookie quarterback is one thing. Allowing the veteran you’ve chosen in his place to take down your team is another. There are players on the Steelers who won’t be there next year and the year after, and they don’t care about what’s best for the team in 2024. They want to win now, and if Tomlin sticks with Trubisky very long, it’s not going to happen.
Let Russ Cook
Russell Wilson left Seattle because the NFL coaches there didn’t trust him, and now in Denver, he has new coaches who… don’t trust him.
Worse, Nathaniel Hackett didn’t even have a plan for Wilson and the Broncos at the end of their Monday night loss in Seattle. With a minute on the clock and three timeouts, Denver didn’t run another offensive play, instead opting to try a field goal that had a seven percent chance of being good.
And by the way, even just an average NFL quarterback converts 4th-and-5 more than 30 percent of the time, and considering what Denver is paying Wilson; they obviously see him as well above average.
Instead of running a much higher percentage play and then using time and timeouts to get to an even shorter field goal, Hackett froze in the moment, allowed the clock to tick away, and then he took his $242 million quarterback off the field, replacing him with his $9 million kicker to try a field goal that has only been good once in the history of the NFL.
Tomlin is still making mistakes in year 16, so Hackett has time to get better. But the natives in Denver are definitely not pleased.