By HCR Staff | June 27, 2018
This is Part 4 of a five-part series breaking down each of the five factors that make up our exclusive Head Coach Ranking. This week’s focus: In-Game Adjustments.
One of the most fun aspects of professional football is the “chess match” dynamic, i.e., how well does each competitor respond to the moves of the other? If a defensive end is constantly winning a one-on-one matchup versus an offensive tackle, will the head coach respond by adjusting his offense so that a running back or a tight end “chips” that defensive end? We grade how well each head coach responds to changing conditions during the game.
Here are HCR’s top-ranked in-game adjustment coaches from last season:
|1. Sean Payton, Saints||8.0|
|2. Bill Belichick, Patriots||7.9|
|3. Sean McVay, Rams||7.8|
|4. Mike Zimmer, Vikings||7.6|
|5t. Andy Reid, Chiefs||7.4|
|5t. Jim Caldwell, Lions||7.4|
And here’s the complete 2017 ranking for In-Game Adjustments
Saints head coach Sean Payton has always made solid in-game adjustments with offense. In a Week 7 win at Green Bay, we took notice of the defense’s ability to adjust. The Packers took a 7-0 lead in that contest and backup RB Aaron Jones was running the ball well. Payton and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen quickly solved this and New Orleans went on to a 26-17 win.
As we noted in the game post:
“We’re used to seeing Saints Head Coach Sean Payton make successful adjustments on the offensive side of the ball, but now they’re making key adjustments on defense as well.”
Of the six coaches rated highest last season for in-game adjustments, only one didn’t make the playoffs – Jim Caldwell of the Detroit Lions. Of the five factors that make up the Head Coach Ranking, this was the best category for Caldwell, who was dismissed after the season.
A good example of Caldwell’s in-game adjustments came in Week 1, when he earned a perfect 10 in the category.
The Lions trailed 17-9 late in the third quarter, but then scored 26 unanswered points and went on the win 35-23. Featuring unheralded rookie receiver Kenny Golladay was not part of the game plan going into the game, but Golladay ended up catching a pair of touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.