Breakdowns

Impact Index: Updated Rankings At the NFL’s Halfway Point

The 33rd Team introduced the Impact Index after Week 4, as a way to measure the impact of new coaching hires. Now that we have reached the halfway point of the season, it’s time to update those numbers. How have teams with new coaching hires during the offseason performed versus last season? The Impact Index attempts to measure improved performance for head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators and offensive line coaches.

Head Coach

The Impact Index for head coaches is the simplest calculation. At the end of the day, only one metric matters: winning.

For new NFL head coaching hires, their team’s winning percentage for this season is compared to its winning percentage through eight weeks of 2019, to see how much the team has improved (or regressed).

As was the case after Week 4, Kevin Stefanski and Ron Rivera have both increased their team’s winning percentage from last season. Though the Browns stumbled this past week against the Raiders, they are 5-3 and still in the playoff hunt. Washington has won one more game than at this point last season and are in second place in the struggling NFC East.

The Cowboys’ hardships have been well documented, turning to their third-string QB Sunday night against the Eagles. With Dak Prescott out for the season, this poor showing may not be a true reflection of Mike McCarthy’s abilities as a head coach. Matt Rhule’s Panthers are performing better than many expected but are still slightly behind in their winning percentage from this time last season.

Offensive Coordinator

The Impact Index for offensive coordinators considers several different offensive metrics, including:

· Yards/Game

· Yards/Pass Attempt

· Third-Down %

· Red-Zone %

· Sacks/Game Allowed

For each of these metrics, the percent improvement for the new coach’s team from 2019 to 2020 is found. Then the percentages are averaged together to find an overall impact index for the new offensive coordinators.

Twelve teams brought in new offensive coordinators for the 2020 season, over a third of the league. The best performing of these new hires has been former LSU passing coordinator Joe Brady with the Carolina Panthers. This improvement makes sense with the steady hand of Teddy Bridgewater under center rather than the rotating cast of signal-callers from 2019. Joining Giants’ OC Jason Garrett near the bottom of the list is Houston Texans’ Tim Kelly and Chicago’s Bill Lazor. The Texans’ offensive struggles have led to a change in leadership and Nick Foles has not provided the offensive spark the Bears had hoped for.

Defensive Coordinator

The Impact Index for new defensive coordinators is basically the opposite of the offensive coordinator metric.

The metrics used in the calculation are as follows:

· Yards/Game Allowed

· Yards/Pass Attempt Allowed

· Third-Down % Allowed

· Red-Zone % Allowed

· Sacks/Game

As for the offensive coordinator Impact Index, the percentage improvement for each of these areas from 2019 to 2020 is averaged together to find the overall percentage of improvement for the 2020 season so far.

(Note: Adam Zimmer and Andre Patterson are the Vikings’ co-DCs for the 2020 season)

The same number of teams brought in new defensive coordinators as offensive coordinators this season. The biggest improvements have come from Miami’s Josh Boyer and Washington’s Jack Del Rio. The Dolphins’ defense flexed its muscles this past week, forcing four Rams turnovers and are the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL. The Football Team boasts one of the league’s top defensive lines after using the No. 2 overall pick on Ohio State standout EDGE, Chase Young.

Mike Vrabel decided not to hire a new defensive coordinator after Dean Pees decided to retire before the season and instead is taking the DC duties upon himself. It seems the Titans’ head coach may be spreading himself too thin, as the defense has regressed significantly, even more than the Cowboys’ porous defense.

Offensive Line

For measuring the offensive line, three metrics were used: Sacks Per Game Allowed, Pressures Per Game Allowed, and Yards / Rush Attempt. As with the previous calculations, the percentage improvement from 2019 to 2020 was determined for each component metric and averaged to find the overall impact.

Leading the way are new offensive line coaches Bill Callahan in Cleveland and Pat Meyer in Carolina. The Browns’ running game has been a revelation this season, gaining an entire extra yard per rush over last season. This improved offensive line unit has their backs running circles around opposing defenses despite the injury to Nick Chubb and their sack and pressure numbers have improved. The Panthers have improved in all three areas as well despite the loss of Christian McCaffrey.

Washington’s John Matsko is at the bottom of the list, likely because of the rotating cast of QBs and the loss of RB Darius Guice before the season. Despite these struggles, the team is still in a competitive position going forward.

Conclusion:

The Impact Index is a rough estimator of how a team has improved or regressed after making a coaching change. The impact has stayed fairly stable from Week 4 for most coaches and, through eight weeks, can be revealing. From the initial estimates, it appears that offensive coaches can make a more immediate positive impact on their teams than defensive hires. It will be interesting to see if the defensive coaches can catch up over the back half of the season.

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