Friday, October 3

Stat Boy Saturday: The Effects of In-Season Head Coaching Changes

Another week with our honorary stat boy, Zach Fein of Fein Sports. A contributor with as much stat muscle as anyone in the business. You may not understand what he's says and use it for you fantasy leagues, but if you're in the mood to be baffled and confused, then boy does he have you covered. Because life is one big spreadsheet. This week he dissects the affect of mid-season head coaching changes. We're still almost three months until Black Monday, the day when coaches on the hot seat receive their pink slips, yet already two coaches—Scott Linehan of the Rams and Lane Kiffin of the Raiders—have been fired. Fantasy owners need to know every bit of information about the new coaches for each team. Jim Haslett, Linehan's replacement, threw the ball 55 percent of the time in his five years at New Orleans, and his teams averaged exactly 100 more passes than rushes each year. Kiffin's replacement, Tom Cable, was the offensive line coach for the Raiders and has had no head coaching experience in the NFL. (He was, however the offensive line coach for the 2006 Atlanta Falcons and the 2007 Oakland Raiders; those two teams passed the ball 45 percent of the time. The Falcons rushed for 300 more yards than they threw, and the Raiders gained over 2,000 rushing yards.) But that wasn't enough for me. I decided to look at the 11 teams who switched head coaches in the middle of the year, and compare the differences of their stats before and after the change. All stats are per game. Here are the results:

Effects of In-Season Coaching Changes
PassAtt.RushAtt.PassYd RushYdPtsForPtsAgst.
Before3425 217991723
After3127 1881091724
A few things to take from the table:
  • The wins and losses (prorated to 16 games) before and after the change were nearly identical, with just one-hundredth separating the two results, so I left them off the table.
  • You can see that the passing statistics went down and the rushing statistics went up after the mid-season change. I am assuming that the original coach was fired because he was passing too often and not playing grind-it-out football, then the subsequent head coach took the words of the owner/team president/general manager and ran the ball more often.
  • Going with the above note: The Rams have thrown the ball 135 times (attempts plus sacks) and rushed 84 times, which is a pass 61 percent of the time; the NFL league average this year is 55.5 percent. As mentioned at the start of the article, Jim Haslett's teams have passed the ball that same percent; look for the Rams to start running more (good news for Steven Jackson owners) and passing less (bad news for Marc Bulger owners, but I would still pick him up if he were on the waiver wire).
  • The Raiders have passed only 46 percent of the time. Tom Cable's two prior teams passed the ball 45 percent of the time; look for the Raiders to stay where they are in terms of pass-to-run ratio, even if they are below the league average.

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