Much of the praise or criticism of NFL coaches relates to play-calling and game management. But arguably a coach’s most important job is to manage people. Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, Mike McCarthy and Dan Quinn each have a different leadership technique.
It’s extremely difficult to judge coaches. The majority of a coach’s work takes place off screen, away from the public view, and in many cases before a football is even snapped in anger. The one tangible thing we get to judge with coaches is their decision-making during those moments when the camera zooms in as they read their call sheets and the announcers hush and wait to agree with whatever they decide to do.
Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady are four of the NFL’s best quarterbacks right now, but is this the best crew to ever play on conference championship weekend?
The most concerning Quinn decision in recent memory came last season. Down 17-13 to the 49ers and facing a fourth-and-1 on the San Francisco 4-yard line with three minutes to go, Quinn bizarrely chose to kick a field goal and try to regain possession instead of attempting to convert for a first down against one of the league’s worst defenses. His Falcons never got the ball back and lost.
Quinn suggested after the game that he thought his defense was capable of forcing a three-and-out to return the ball to his offense, but even if he had the ’85 Bears, the numbers were strongly in favor of going for it. NumberFire suggested Quinn’s decision reduced Atlanta’s win expectancy by 37.3 percent even after the field goal was made, dropping them from a 50.7 percent favorite to a 13.4 percent underdog.