By HCR Staff | Dec. 7, 2018
Despite last week’s loss in Dallas, the New Orleans Saints remain No. 1 in Head Coach Ranking’s Game Control Index.
The Game Control Index is a new metric for measuring success in the NFL. It is a proprietary metric combining key factors that we believe are indicative of winning football games.
The Game Control Index results from the 2017 season fell into place with how the teams finished: Eight of the top 10 teams made the playoffs, and only one of the 12 playoff teams did not finish in the top 15.
Before presenting the current GCI rankings, here are a few key takeaways:
• There is a very strong correlation between a good GCI ranking and a team’s W-L record. The data also indicates which head coaches are either over-performing or underperforming. Why do we say this? Because if a team has a strong Game Control Index but a mediocre record, then questionable decisions are likely counteracting the on-field execution. Conversely, the head coach deserves more credit when a team is winning despite a lesser Game Control Index.
• Even with a disappointing loss against a tough Cowboys team on the road, the GCI data on the Saints indicates they look not only like a Super Bowl contender, but a Super Bowl winner. The GCI data indicates the Saints are the best team in the league at controlling the ball on offense on longer fields, and they are number two in the league in defending short fields. That is the hallmark of a tough, resilient team with good balance. Additionally, the Saints’ number one GCI ranking is almost a full two points ahead of the second-ranked Chicago Bears. For us, that is a pretty significant quantitative difference – there are only two instances in the current GCI rankings with a greater difference from one team to the next. The only area where the Saints appear average is in converting their short-field offensive opportunities.
• The GCI data continues to indicate that Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is a very effective coach. Gruden has been snake-bitten with injuries to key players during his entire tenure as Washington’s head coach. Notwithstanding this, GCI data indicates the Redskins have continued to be a tough out in games. We’ll see if this trend holds now that they are onto a third-string quarterback in Mark Sanchez. We continue to believe, however, that Gruden is a better coach than his won-loss record indicates. He simply needs better luck.
• GCI data indicates that Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has performed above the execution of his team thus far. The Vikings rank only 24th in our GCI rankings, yet they have a winning record. The Vikings are the only team in the bottom 12 of our GCI rankings that has a winning record.
• Earlier in the season, GCI data indicated to us that the Seattle Seahawks were a sleeper team. This has proven to be true. The Seahawks have continued to excel by this metric, currently ranking fourth. The Seahawks, according to GCI, rank number one in the league in defending short fields. We feel that whenever a defense does a good job defending a short field, that not only helps on the scoreboard but it also helps create emotional momentum and energy.
As a reminder, here’s how GCI works:
The Game Control Index tracks how often a team comes away with points via long drives (starting at their own 30-yard line or deeper) and short drives (starting at the 50 or in opponent’s territory). We do the same for each team’s defense, i.e., how well does a team prevent long drives and short drives. We calculate total points scored on these drives and average points per drive – for both offense and defense. “Throwaway drives” – if a team is kneeling at the end of a half or just running out the clock – are not counted.
That’s eight different factors to rank, and the average of the eight factors produces the Game Control Index. The lower the number, the better that team did in converting opportunities to control games.
Here are the complete Game Control Index rankings through Week 13:
|GCI Rank||Team||GCI Score||2018 Record (W-L)|