Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Defensive Coordinators

I do want to state before I begin this project that showing rankings for coordinators is a really flawed exercise for determining who did the best job. A coordinator can really help in certain cases, but the Kentucky Derby has never been won on a donkey, so therefore looking at the raw results of a team's defense under a certain coach should likely be about 80% talent and 20% coaching.

As we said earlier in the week, Dom Capers seems more of a genius this year than he has in quite some time. But, surely Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews allow him to do certain things up there that Terrence Newman and Anthony Spencer would not.

Conversely, I think that just about any reader could be appointed Tom Brady's QB coach next year, and I still think he will throw for 4,000 yards despite your caliber of coaching.

Coaching is not about rankings as much as it is about taking your group of players and finding out the best way to utilize their talents in a way to fully maximize their potential. Further, the rankings I am about to share with you will not in any way reveal their intangibles. The ability to find what makes Mike Jenkins tick and reach out and challenge him on a daily basis and coach in such a way where Alan Ball can find confidence because he knows his reads like the back of his hand do not show up in these rankings.

And, it doesn't show us the important elements of all 3-4's are not created equal. Does each guy coach the same way? Will they 2-gap the defensive ends like Wade, or will they run the 3-4 in a way where it is actually a 4-3 in pass rush responsibilities once the ball is snapped. Will it emphasize blitzes from merely the 2 inside linebackers which appeared to be 75% of Wade's blitz packages (front 7) or could the blitz come from any of the 4 DBs at any time (think Rex Ryan or Dom Capers?). Utilization of the defensive ends is very important to me, because if they wish to do more than 2-gap them to provide run support, then I need more dynamic options at that position. Is it all based on a big anchor in the middle? If so, I need to find my Vince Wilfork, BJ Raji, or Kris Jenkins at 330-350 at NT.

I need to know their specific theories, but I would imagine they change and modify those theories based on what they have to work with. You cannot have 1 philosophy because Darrell Revis allows you to do things that Orlando Scandrick would not. Clay Matthews and DeMarcus Ware can both get to the QB, but Ware seems better against the run, while Matthews seems a better pass coverage guy in space. And if you have a NT who is barely 300 pounds, then you just cannot set your DEs free like New England did in the Richard Seymour prime or Wade Phillips did with Bruce Smith.

Beyond that, is Jason Garrett looking for another emotional voice? Would Rob Ryan's routine grow tiresome if Garrett just wants one man at the tip of the spear?

OK. With all of that to chew on, let's look at the resumes of the 3 most mentioned names in this DC coaching search for now. The Capers situation seems to be a pipe dream - as the only way he gets out of Green Bay is to be a head coach again. And there just is not much word that the Cowboys are looking hard at Rob Ryan or Eric Mangini. They could emerge later, but nothing for now. And Miami is still in tact, so I assume Todd Bowles and Mike Nolan may be staying put. Bowles has never been a coordinator, so the charts you see below would not apply to him. I am not interested, frankly, in a 1st-time coordinator in this particular situation.

I only will list for you the seasons in which each of the 3 were coordinators. When they are position coaches the numbers are relevant, but they are carrying out other's schemes. Of course, that is often true with coordinators, too, as they carry out their Head Coach's scheme (Vic Fangio with Dom Capers), but I am giving you what we actually have as tangible numbers. Not a ton.


Greg Manusky

San Francisco Defensive Coordinator 2007-2010 - Under Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary

YearPPG VsSacksTakeaways
200722.8 (20th)31 (21st)22 (28th)
200823.8 (23rd)30 (16th)18 (28th)
200917.6 (4th)44 (3rd)33 (5th)
201021.6 (16th)36 (14th)22 (25th)

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Vic Fangio

Carolina Panthers 1995-1998 - Under Dom Capers - Expansion Team

YearPPG VsSacksTakeaways
199520.3 (8th)36 (14th)37 (5th)
1996 13.6 (2nd)60 (1st)38 (5th)
199719.6 (13th)36 (23rd)22 (26th)
199825.8 (27th)37 (21st)33 (7th)

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Indianapolis Colts 1999-2001 - Under Jim Mora

YearPPG VsSacksTakeaways
199920.8 (17th)41 (12th)23 (27th)
200020.4 (15th)42 (12th)22 (25th)
200130.4 (31st)40 (16th)25 (23rd)

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Houston Texans 2002-2005 - Under Dom Capers - Expansion Team

YearPPG VsSacksTakeaways
200222.3 (20th)35 (18th)21 (30th)
2003 23.8 (27th)19 (31st)22 (31st)
200421.2 (15th)24 (32nd)30 (13th)
200526.9 (32nd)37 (14th)16 (32nd)

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It should be noted that everyone is expecting Fangio to follow Jim Harbaugh to San Francisco, but given everyone's interest in Dom Capers, this would be hiring Dom Capers-lite, so perhaps the Cowboys could buy him out of his Harbaugh relationship - given that he has only been with Harbaugh for a very short time.


Paul Pasqualoni

Miami Dolphins 2008-2009 - Under Tony Sparano

YearPPG VsSacksTakeaways
200819.8 (9th)40 (8th)30 (5th)
200924.4 (25th)44 (3rd)21 (27th)

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It is difficult to draw conclusions because they all have unique situations. It is tough to be too critical about Vic Fangio as he is working with Dom Capers on 2 different expansion projects. Also, name anyone off the 2001 Indianapolis Colts defense. We credit Tony Dungy for figuring out what Jim Mora couldn't, but the reality is they finally found some players on the Colts defense to actually make plays. It is much more fun to be coordinator if you have Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis on the edges.

As for Pasqualoni, I really like his body of work at Syracuse and in the NFL. But, something tells me the Cowboys want another mind to add to his to run this defense. On resumes alone and the end of 2010, I would be willing to give Pasqualoni a chance to work out the issues on this defense. I think he is pretty decent.

It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys add more names to this short list.

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