If you had asked me who was the most aggressive head coach and offensive playcaller in the NFC South in the 2010 season, the last two names I would have given you would have been former Carolina coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson.
Their tenure, especially last season, smacked of a conservative approach. But according to Football Outsiders, that wasn’t entirely true. Fox ranked fourth in the league in the “Aggressive Index," which is calculated by Football Outsiders.
The basic premise of the index is going for it on fourth down, but it also factors in the coach’s track record in those situations compared to the league average, with the numbers weighted by the number of opportunities the coach had in each situation.
The only thing I can figure out is that Fox and Davidson probably were a lot more aggressive on first downs in last year’s 2-14 season because they almost always were playing from behind and had nothing to lose.
This index takes on more credibility, in my eyes, when you look and see New Orleans’ Sean Payton at No. 6 and Atlanta’s Mike Smith (with offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey) at No. 9. There’s no doubt Payton is the most aggressive playcaller in the division, and Smith and Mularkey seemed to be more aggressive on fourth downs last season.
Tampa Bay’s Raheem Morris (and coordinator Greg Olson) came in at No. 23, one spot behind his mentor, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin.