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View Full Version : The Fallacy of Defensive Coaches Taking Defensive Players


jrdrylie
02-07-2011, 09:01 AM
Every single time a defensive minded coach is hired as a head coach, draftniks everywhere start putting the best available defensive player to that team in their mock drafts. Ron Rivera, the new Panthers coach, is defensive minded, so Nick Fairley is the popular first overall pick. But is it true that defensive coaches draft defensive players? Here is a list of the last 14 first-time NFL Head Coaches who were defensive minded and how they drafted:

Pete Carroll- Drafted Russell Okung first. Four picks were offensive, five were defensive picks.
Jim Schwartz- Matt Stafford and Brandon Pettigrew (both offensive guys) were his first round picks. In total, six picks were on offense, and four were on defense.
Rex Ryan- Mark Sanchez was his first draft pick. Because he traded so much to get him, the Jets only had three picks that year. Each one was used on offensive players.
Mike Smith- Matt Ryan was their pick when most thought it would be Glenn Dorsey. Later, they traded back into the first to get Sam Baker, another offensive player. The entire draft, five offensive picks and six defensive picks.
John Harbaugh- Harbaugh was more special teams, but he was also a DB coach, so he fit here. His first pick was also a QB, Joe Flacco. He drated seven offensive guys and only three defensive players.
Steve Spagnuolo- Spags drafted Jason Smith (offensive tackle) with his first pick. Altogether, four offensive and three defensive.
Mike Singletary- Michael Crabtree was Singletary's first pick. He picked four offensive players and three defensive.
Raheem Morris- Josh Freeman (another QB) was the first pick here. The entire draft, three picks were on offense, three were on defense.
Mike Tomlin- The first one to pick a defensive player (Lawrence Timmons) first. He drafted three offensive players and four defensive players.
Rod Marinelli- He also drafted a linebacker first (Ernie Sims). And like Tomlin, he drafted three on offense, and four on defense. Unlike Tomlin, Marinelli won just 10 games in three seasons.
Eric Mangini- Mangini drafted offense first, going with D'Brickashaw Ferguson. He followed that up with Nick Mangold later in the first round. The entire draft, he picked up 6 on offense and four on defense.
Romeo Crennel- What do you know, offense again. This time, it was Braylon Edwards. The entire draft, three on offense, five on defense.
Mike Nolan- Nolan went with Alex Smith first. He spent eight picks on the offensive side and only three on defense.
Nick Saban- The last one, and once again, and offensive pick, going with Ronnie Brown. Saban picked only two on offense and five on defense.

So out of the last 14 defensive-minded first time head coaches, 12 went offense with their first pick. That's 86%. 61 picks were used on offense and 52 were used on defense. While saying that a defensive coach is most likely to pick a defensive player first is a popular cliche, the facts just don't back it up. That's why as soon as Ron Rivera was hired as the Panthers coach, I put AJ Green back in the number one slot. If you want your mocks to be right, maybe you should too.

Halsey
02-07-2011, 09:08 AM
Yep, a common myth. Coaches want to win and owners want to sell tickets. Regardless of cliches like 'defense wins championships', offense is just as important. Fans want to see quality offensive play. Some fans like to act tough and say they like defense better than offense, but no fan likes watching a bad offense. These same fans want to project their ideal image to coaches. They think they want tough-guy coaches who are 'defense first'. Good coaches are winning first and want a good all around team. Good thread.

no bare feet
02-07-2011, 09:09 AM
You also have to realize many of those coaches were first time NFL coaches and would not have much say in the personel decisions. Moving forward you may see Schwartz with more influence, but not right away.

SimonRath
02-07-2011, 09:12 AM
I think its just the defensive minded coaches think they can get a defensive player later in the draft and get him to over achieve. idk if that made sense..

AntoinCD
02-07-2011, 09:13 AM
The reason is ego. So many coaches think their scheme is foolproof and they can plug any player and coach them up.

ElectricEye
02-07-2011, 09:17 AM
How many of those guys were given personal control? I really don't think many of those guys were flat out making the picks. Great defensive coaches and manufacture a lot things so this really isn't that surprising that the front offices would go with the best perceived player available.

AntoinCD
02-07-2011, 09:43 AM
How many of those guys were given personal control? I really don't think many of those guys were flat out making the picks. Great defensive coaches and manufacture a lot things so this really isn't that surprising that the front offices would go with the best perceived player available.

Good point on BPA

Carroll picked Okung who was almost certainly BPA and the biggest need for Seattle.

Schwartz picked Stafford as he was a slam dunk pick and even if he hadn't picked Pettigrew he would've picked Michael Oher who was BPA.

Ryan traded up for Sanchez as they needed a QB. Best available defensive player was BJ Raji and the Jets had recently got Kris Jenkins. BPA was probably Crabtree anyway.

Smith took the QB again. BPA was Ryan or Dorsey and as is the trend the QB trumps all other positions.

Harbaugh took Flacco. Once again a QB. Best available defensive player was probably Aqib Talib.

Spags took what he presumed to be a franchise LT. Neither Aaron Curry or Tyson Jackson where the impact players that Smith should have been.

Singletary had no choice but to take Crabtree as he was a top 3 talent who fell to #10.

Morris like a lot of the above coaches opted for the QB option.

Mangini drafted a franchise LT and a franchise OC. Even with hindsight the only defensive player who may have been a better choice was Ngata who at the time was not that highly rated.

Crenneltook Edwards instead of the three CBs(Pacman, Rolle and Rodgers). This was not that bad a selection in comparison. Sure Ware or Merriman would have been better but hindsight is perfect.

Nolan went with the QB. The only mistake he made was taking the wrong QB.

Saban was in the same boat as Crennel. If he went defensive player it wouldnt have been a great selection unless he majorly reached for Ware or Merriman at the time.

jrdrylie
02-07-2011, 10:00 AM
So if we stay with the assumption that this is BPA and has nothing to do with the defensive coaches just wanting offensive guys more, AJ Green could still likely be the pick as he is to many the best player in this draft.

AntoinCD
02-07-2011, 10:02 AM
So if we stay with the assumption that this is BPA and has nothing to do with the defensive coaches just wanting offensive guys more, AJ Green could still likely be the pick as he is to many the best player in this draft.

Yeah definitely he could. Arguably BPA and arguably Carolina's biggest need as well. But then again Nick Fairley is also arguably both as well.

Bob Sanders Dreadlock
02-07-2011, 10:10 AM
All i gathered is most of them tried to get a franchise QB or left tackle.

jrdrylie
02-07-2011, 10:18 AM
All i gathered is most of them tried to get a franchise QB or left tackle.

Neither of those positions have a guy worth the top pick this year. I think this will be the first time in a while that we don't know the pick before draft day, especially if the new CBA isn't done and the Panthers can't negotiate with their potential picks.

Unbiased
02-07-2011, 04:09 PM
I wonder if the better perspective would be the GM saying "We brought you here because you can coach up defense. We're not giving you defensive players with premium picks."

RaiderNation
02-07-2011, 04:20 PM
I think this is because most coaches think their schemes dont need elite 1st round talent to work, so adding a franchise LT,QB or w/e would be the best option to do. You can find guys to play defense at an average level

Matthew Jones
02-07-2011, 04:36 PM
Keep in mind that most of those guys weren't the guy making the final choice. Also, most of it can be tied to new regimes trying to get their franchise QB, and a lot of the guys, such as Harbaugh, inherited strong defenses. I don't think there's really any definitive conclusion to draw from this, but it was an interesting read.

Zello
02-07-2011, 08:56 PM
Walterfootball.com had a nice article about this exact phenomena:

http://walterfootball.com/nfldraftdefensivecoaches.php

wogitalia
02-07-2011, 10:43 PM
It's interesting that the first 6 on that list(chronologically) all got fired and none exactly had long stints.

It seems interesting that GMs would hire a defensive coach and then not get them a star defensive player. It certainly points to me that teams generally hire a coach who specialises in what they weren't good at before and expect that that will turn around that facet of the game.

So hire a defensive coach, that fixes the defense so now we can draft an offensive player.

Tomlin is the clear extreme in that he took over a Super Bowl calibre team as opposed to a bottom feeder.

Harbaugh is also in a similar position in that he took over a team that was hoping to win a superbowl, rather than trying to get out of the cellar.

Ryan similar but he also stands out because the team that hired him had a good defense and went with him anyway.

Of the rest Singletary is the only one who didn't try and take a franchise LT or QB with his first pick and he is also the only one fired so far...

Taking from that the thing you notice is that often new coach means new QB.

Be interesting to see how long these guys all last, a couple look very promising but you still need to give them the talent.

niel89
02-07-2011, 11:01 PM
Keep in mind that most of those guys weren't the guy making the final choice. Also, most of it can be tied to new regimes trying to get their franchise QB, and a lot of the guys, such as Harbaugh, inherited strong defenses. I don't think there's really any definitive conclusion to draw from this, but it was an interesting read.

Going with this, I honestly doubt Harbaugh had any power in getting Flacco. Newsome runs the Ravens during draft time.

Harbaugh also wasn't a huge defensive guy. He was a special teams coordinator for 9 years in Philly and only did some work with the secondary.