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Ranking NFL’s Best, Worst Coaching Decisions From Week 10

Mike Vrabel shakes hands with Todd Bowles.
Nov 12, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel greets Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles after their game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

In this article, we’ll look at the good and bad coaching decisions from this past week’s games. It is informed by metrics such as expected win probability added (xWPA).

4 Best, Worst Decisions of Week 10

Second-worst: Titans Playing it Safe

The situation: 12:44 left in the second quarter, Titans up by three, fourth-and-2 at the Buccaneers’ 33

The decision: 51-yard field goal

The result: Missed kick, subsequently lost the game

The Tennessee Titans came into this game looking for a win and searching for answers at quarterback by starting Will Levis

The Titans moved the ball primarily through the air until this point in the game. If we were coach Mike Vrabel, we’d want to evaluate how Levis looks in such situations. Tennessee was well into Tampa Bay Buccaneers territory, needing only two yards for the first down. Despite this, Vrabel wanted to see what his kicker could do instead.

The decision to kick lost the Titans 4.3 percent xWPA. Because the kick was missed, Tennessee’s win probability dropped from 60.6 percent to 51.7 percent. Even if Vrabel doesn’t want to put the ball in Levis’ hands, a handoff to Derrick Henry (who has shown he can get two yards by merely falling forward) would’ve made sense.

Although the Titans lost by 14 points, Tennessee likely came away with some answers at quarterback. However, Vrabel’s decision didn’t contribute to a win. 

Second-best: Brandon Staley Got One Right

The situation: 11:33 left in the fourth quarter, Chargers down by seven, fourth-and-goal from the Lions’ 1-yard line

The decision: Go for the touchdown

The result: Completion to Quentin Johnston for a touchdown to tie

Brandon Staley going for it on fourth down? Who could’ve seen that coming! In what had been a shootout up to then, Staley made the right call and went for it on fourth-and-goal and needing a touchdown. 

With how both defenses were playing, kicking and hoping for a stop seemed nearly impossible. However, by going for it, the Los Angeles Chargers could score a touchdown or back the Detroit Lions into a corner with poor field position and the need to sustain a 99-yard drive. 

Staley’s call added 10.4 percent of xWPA and gave the Chargers a chance to keep fighting in what ended up being a hard loss.

Frank Reich stands on Panthers sideline.

Worst: Reich Tanking for the Wrong Team

The situation: Third quarter, four-and-a-half minutes left, Panthers losing by six, fourth-and-5 from the Bears’ 45

The decision: Cowardly punt

The result: 34-yard punt to the Chicago 11-yard line, end up losing by three

A couple of weeks ago, we commended Frank Reich on his decision to go for it on fourth down to get in position for a winning kick. Unfortunately for Reich, he will claim the worst decision of the week for this punt.

After struggling to move the ball earlier in the game, the Carolina Panthers picked up three plays of more than 10 yards before punting. When QB Bryce Young finally appeared in rhythm, Reich decided to punt on fourth-and-mid and lost 4.2 percent of xWPA on this decision. 

The Chicago Bears struggled to move the ball all game, and going for it on fourth could have given the Panthers a chance to tie or win the game outright if they converted. If they failed, they could have relied on their defense to get stops like the unit had all game, keeping it a one-possession game. 

Antonio Pierce signals to his players.

Best: The McDaniels Era Is Officially Over

The situation: 4:43 left in the third quarter, Raiders down by three, fourth-and-1 from the Jets’ 25

The decision: Go for it

The result: Josh Jacobs runs for two yards

Interim coach Antonio Pierce and OC Bo Hardegree have supplied the Las Vegas Raiders with a new heartbeat the last few weeks. 

In what was an absolute kickfest of a game, the Raiders chose to go for it on a fourth-and-1 from the 25 instead of kicking a field goal to tie the game. After deciding to trust the heart and soul of the offense and hand the ball to Josh Jacobs, he and the Raiders converted and kept the drive alive.

This decision had a whopping 10.9 percent xWPA, pushing the Raiders over 50 percent win probability. Yes, the drive stalled right after, and they made a shorter field goal to tie it. In what Pierce knew would be a close game, the decision to go for it positively affected their outcome.

This article was written by Ryan Rubinstein.