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Numbers that don’t lie: Detroit Lions have the worst offensive line coach in the NFL

Heading into the 2018 NFL season, the hope for the Detroit Lions was that a bright spot would be their offensive line, which had been one of the worst in the league for some time. The first step the Lions made to make this happen was firing offensive line coach, Ron Prince.

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After Matt Patricia was hired as head coach of the Lions, he announced that he was bringing on Jeff Davidson to coach the offensive line. Davidson was available after he was fired by the Denver Broncos following the 2017 season.

The second thing the Lions did was they selected offensive lineman Frank Ragnow in the 1st Round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Through his first 13 NFL games, Ragnow has shown flashes that he can be a solid player while he has also had moments of weakness, which can be expected from a rookie offensive lineman.

Overall, the Lions offensive line has probably been better than it was a year ago, but they have a long way to go before they can be considered one of the top OL units in the NFL.

So, how does Davidson rank in the NFL compared to his fellow offensive line coaches?

Well, according to Justis Mosqueda from Optimum Scouting, Davidson has not only been bad when compared to his peers, but he has also been the worst!

As you can see below, Mosqueda takes Sack Value and Tackle for Loss Value into account to come up with a total score. Davidson’s scores in each of those areas are poor and it shows as he ranks No. 34 out of 34 (Denver and Minnesota each have two OL coaches on the list). In fact, if you take a look at the total scores, Davidson has a score of -130.8, which is considerably worse than the -103.8 posted by George Warhop of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what do these numbers mean? Here is how Mosqueda comes up with Sack Value and Tackle For Loss Value.

From Optimum Scouting:

In an attempt to do so, I tracked every current NFL offensive line coach’s resume dating back to 2004, when we entered a pass-friendly era. What I tracked was two things: Sack Value and TFL Value for individual teams in individual seasons.

Sack Value: (((Team sacks given up/Team total pass plays)-(NFL sacks given up/NFL total pass plays))*Team total pass plays)*-1

TFL Value: (((Team tackles for a loss given up/Team total run plays)-(NFL total tackles for a loss given up/NFL total run plays))*Team total run plays)*-1

I treated tackles at the line as tackles for a loss with the idea being that if a back did not get momentum to push even a yard, there was likely to be penetration caused by an offensive lineman. I also excluded kneel downs from the data sample.

If there are any easy counting stats that could be attributed (and easily accessed) to the performance of offensive linemen, it would be sacks and TFLs. The value system adjusts for what the NFL average in the stat was in a given year, giving it an era adjustment for rule changes, and attributes a plus-minus number that is tangible.

Examples: +5 Sack Value means a team prevented five sacks better than the NFL average. -3 TFL Value means a team allowed three TFLs worse than the NFL average.

From there, you match current offensive line coaches to teams which they had qualifying coaching roles for (offensive line coach, offensive coordinator and head coach) and BOOM you find the value of offensive lines while these coaches have been in roles to heavily-influence them. From there, we can try to answer questions like “How good is Dante Scarnecchia?”

It’s too bad that Matt Patricia was not presented with this information prior to hiring Davidson as the Lions offensive coordinator. Maybe it would be a good idea if he looks into it before the 2019 season begins.

 

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