Stats & Info: Jim Harbaugh

Top stats to know: 2014 NFL schedule

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23

Jennifer Stewart/Getty ImagesThe 2014 NFL season will culminate at Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Sure it is April, but the 2014 NFL schedule has been released and that means it is time to get ready for a season full of intriguing matchups.

From high-profile veterans facing their former teams, to the 16th meeting between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, here is a look at some of the early highlights of the 2014 season:

Reunion games
DeSean Jackson, Steve Smith, Chris Johnson, Darrelle Revis, Jared Allen and Julius Peppers.

Those are just a handful of veterans released during the off-season who will have a chance to play against their former teams in 2014.

After a career year in 2013, Jackson was released by the Eagles this off-season. He will face the Eagles twice this season (Week 3 in Philadelphia and Week 16 in Washington).

Smith, the Panthers career leader in touchdowns, receptions and receiving yards, promised there would be "blood and guts everywhere" if he faced the Panthers in 2014 after being released by the team in March. As a member of the Baltimore Ravens, Smith will get a crack at the Panthers on Sept. 28 in Baltimore.

Johnson only joined the Jets a little more than a week ago, but he's already slated for a Tennessee reunion. Johnson and the Jets will travel to Tennessee Week 15 to take on the Titans. Johnson has posted six straight 1,000-yard seasons, the longest active streak in the NFL.

Allen signed a 4-year deal with the Bears at the end of March after spending six seasons in Minnesota. Allen led the NFL with 85.5 sacks during his Vikings tenure. Allen will face the Vikings twice this season (Week 11 and Week 17).

Peppers is now on the other side of the NFL's most-played rivalry after signing a three-year deal with the Packers in March just days after being released by the Bears. Peppers totaled 38 sacks in his four seasons in Chicago and made three Pro Bowls.

And a college reunion
Former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and the Eagles will play the NFC West this season as part of the standard division rotation.

Kelly will have the opportunity to coach against former Pac-10 coaching rivals Pete Carroll (USC) and Jim Harbaugh (Stanford). As a head coach, Kelly was a combined 2-1 against Carroll and Harbaugh with a win over each.

Kelly and the Eagles will also travel to Indianapolis in Week 2 for a Monday Night Football showdown against former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Kelly's Oregon teams were 2-1 against Stanford during Andrew Luck's collegiate career.

Top games
On Nov. 2, Manning and Brady will meet for the 16th time, including the playoffs, tied for the most between any pair of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.

Manning will also face his former team for the second time as the Broncos will host the Colts to open their season. Manning and the Broncos lost to the Colts 39-33 in 2013.

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, the top two picks in the 2012 draft, will meet for the first time in Week 13. In their young careers, Griffin III is 12-16, while Luck is 22-10.

A rematch of last year's Super Bowl, Broncos-Seahawks, will also take place this season. The Seahawks' 35-point margin of victory in the Super Bowl is tied for the third largest in NFL history.

Analyzing the relationship of NFL couples

February, 14, 2013
Today is Valentine’s Day, when the thoughts of young football fans turn to ... well ... more football.

Stats & Information looks at some NFL couples and lets you know who should stay together, who needs to rebuild their relationship and who might want to spend some time apart.

• Tom Brady and Wes Welker: Free-agent-to-be Welker has 672 receptions since joining the Patriots in 2007, the most for a player over any six-year span in NFL history.

• Eli Manning and Victor Cruz: Cruz, who is slated to become a restricted free agent, has 168 receptions and 19 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Along with Hakeem Nicks, he gives Manning one of the game’s best deep threats in the league.

• Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson: Johnson set an NFL single-season record with 1,964 receiving yards in 2012, while Stafford set an NFL record with 727 pass attempts. These two need to stay together if only to torture statisticians everywhere.

• Tony Romo and Dez Bryant: Early in the season, they didn't appear to be on the same page, but Bryant caught a league-high 10 TD passes from Week 10 until the end of the season.

• Aaron Rodgers and Jermichael Finley: Finley caught a career-high 61 balls in 2012, but just two went for touchdowns. At times it appeared that Rodgers had lost confidence in his tight end and reports have appeared that the Packers might release Finley.

• Cam Newton and Steve Smith: Smith was critical of Newton's sideline demeanor last season, and he could have a point. When trailing in the fourth quarter over the last two seasons, Newton’s QBR of 35.9 is 35th among 45 qualifying quarterbacks.

• Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan: After going to a pair of AFC Championship games in their first two seasons together, the relationship hasn't worked recently. Sanchez regressed even further in 2012, and has an NFL-high 52 turnovers over the last two seasons.

• Alex Smith and Jim Harbaugh: Harbaugh has turned to the younger Colin Kaepernick. Since Kaepernick took over as the starter in Week 11, his 81.2 Total QBR is second to only Russell Wilson. Smith’s QBR of 54.1 since the start of 2011 is 19th among quarterbacks with at least 500 action plays.

• Matt Cassel and Andy Reid: The Chiefs and Reid’s Eagles were tied with the Jets for the most turnovers in the NFL last season with 37. Cassel struggled with 19 turnovers in just nine games.

Ravens, Flacco super through postseason

February, 3, 2013

Al Bello/Getty ImagesJacoby Jones going long distances for touchdowns was a theme throughout this season.
The Baltimore Ravens have the best postseason record in NFL history.

They earned their way to that mark by proving they were the best team this postseason, beating the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII.

Let’s run through some of the statistical highlights of a contest that will be well remembered for many things that go beyond the numbers.

The history
The Ravens became the fifth team to win their first two Super Bowl appearances, joining the 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers and New York Giants. They snapped a four-game win streak by the NFC in Super Bowls, becoming the first AFC team to win one since the 2008 Steelers.

The Ravens are 8-1 all-time as a No. 4 seed in the postseason. Both of their Super Bowl wins came as a No. 4 seed, with the other coming in the 2000 season.

Baltimore’s .667 winning percentage (14-7) is the best of any team in NFL history.

The win was Joe Flacco’s ninth in postseason, matching Tom Brady for the most playoff wins by a quarterback in his first five seasons. Flacco joins Eli Manning as the only quarterbacks in postseason history to win seven games on the road or at neutral sites

Ravens coach John Harbaugh improved to 7-0 as a head coach following a bye week. The Ravens 63 wins since Harbaugh took over at the start of the 2008 season are tied with the New England Patriots for the most in the NFL in that span.

The 49ers outgained the Ravens 448 to 347 in combined rushing and passing yardage. Baltimore allowed the most yards in a Super Bowl for any winning team and became the third team to win a Super Bowl despite being outgained by at least that much, joining the 2001 Patriots and 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Super Bowl MVP: Joe Flacco
Flacco had three touchdown passes, giving him 11 with no interceptions this postseason.

He’s the second quarterback with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in a postseason, joining Hall of Famer Joe Montana for the 1989 49ers.

Flacco saved his most accurate game for last, completing 67 percent of his throws.

He was 7-of-13 for 171 yards and two touchdowns on passes more than 10 yards downfield on Sunday.

Flacco struggled on those throws in the regular season, posting the second-worst completion percentage (41 percent) but found his touch in the this postseason, much more than any of the four previous times he'd been to the playoffs.

Flacco caught the 49ers at the right time.

In the regular season, the 49ers allowed only three touchdowns (fewest in the NFL) on that length of throw throws and a 38.7 completion percentage (third-best).

Including the Super Bowl, the 49ers allowed five touchdowns and a 67.5 completion percentage on passes more than 10 yards downfield in the postseason.

Flacco finished with a Total QBR of 95.1, tied for his second-best in a game in his career. It was nearly 50 points better than his QBR during the regular season (46.8).

Play of the game: Jacoby Jones goes the distance
Jacoby Jones set the record for the longest kick return in Super Bowl history with his 108-yard touchdown to open the second half.

This was Jones’ third kickoff return of at least 105 yards for a touchdown this season. The only other player with multiple 105-yard touchdowns in his career is his teammate, Ed Reed, who has two.

This was the second kickoff return for a touchdown in the Superdome. Desmond Howard had the other for the 1996 Green Bay Packers, a 99-yarder against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI that stood as the record for the longest Super Bowl kickoff-return touchdown until Jones’ score.

Jones is the second player in NFL postseason history with a kickoff return touchdown and receiving touchdown in the same game, joining Dante Hall who did it for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2003 AFC Divisional Playoffs.

It was the second 100-yard touchdown in Super Bowl history, joining the 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by James Harrison for the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.

49ers come so close
The 49ers 31 points tied the most by a losing team in a Super Bowl, matching the total scored by the Dallas Cowboys against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIII.

It is the most points the 49ers have ever scored in a postseason loss. They were 13-0 in postseason play when scoring at least 31 points prior to today.

The 49ers outscored the Ravens 25-6 and outgained them 260-126 after the third-quarter power outage, but that would not be enough.

Colin Kaepernick also just missed out on Steve McNair's Super Bowl record for rushing yards by a quarterback. He finished with 62, two shy of the mark.

The one issue for Kaepernick on a day in which he threw for more than 300 yards was that he couldn't finish off enough drives needed to complete the comeback.

Kaepernick was 0-for-4 on passes thrown into the end zone in the game and 1-for-8 on such throws in the postseason. Six of the seven incompletions were the result of overthrown passes.
With Wednesday’s focus on potential chaos on the sidelines here’s a look at how the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers compare in two areas that directly reflect the ability of those to stay calm and communicate effectively- the two-minute drill and the decision to throw the challenge flag.

The two-minute drill
The 49ers posted the fourth-best point differential in the two-minute drill (plus-34) this season.

While Colin Kaepernick has been adequate passing in the last two minutes of the half (17-for-31, 220 yards, one touchdown, one interception) his success on the ground has made him especially effective.

No quarterback in the league has more rushing first downs in the two-minute drill than Kaepernick (six).

This may be an area in which the 49ers have an edge.

The Ravens had a minus-34 point differential in the two-minute drill, the fourth-worst mark in the league. Baltimore was also one of three teams to make the playoffs with a negative turnover differential (minus-1) in the two-minute drill.

The chart on the right shows the difference in performance between the two teams this season.

However, the Ravens have executed in the two-minute offense in the postseason, outscoring opponents 21-6, with the highlight being the game-tying 70-yard touchdown throw near the end of regulation in the overtime win over the Denver Broncos.

Joe Flacco also had a touchdown throw to Torrey Smith in the two-minute drill in the first half of that game. Flacco is 6-for-9 for 183 yards with under two minutes remaining in either half this postseason.

Jim Harbaugh’s Challenges
No coach was more active with challenge flag than 49ers’ coach Jim Harbaugh.

He threw nine challenge flags during the season, tied with Ken Whisenhunt and Rex Ryan for the NFL lead.

Harbaugh’s 33 percent success rate was below the league average (48 percent of challenges were overturned). However, four of the nine were thrown in the first three weeks of the season with replacement officials.

For more on Harbaugh’s successes, check the article by Grantland’s Bill Barnwell earlier in the week.

John Harbaugh’s Challenges
Ravens coach John Harbaugh had better statistical success when challenging official rulings than his younger brother, winning three of his six challenges.

However, despite the higher success rate, Harbaugh’s decision-making involved some questionable choices.

In Week 2 against the Eagles, John Harbaugh burned a timeout to challenge whether Michael Vick was on the ground as he threw the ball away in the third quarter. Vick’s knees did not appear to be close to the ground, and Baltimore lost the challenge.

Philadelphia had just been flagged for holding and faced a 2nd-and-17 anyway, and the poor challenge cost Baltimore a timeout (Baltimore’s first) when it would have gained only seven yards.

If John Harbaugh had trusted his defense to hold off the Eagles (as they did) and saved the timeout, that might have helped the Ravens avoid the eventual outcome.

Trailing 24-23 late in the game, Baltimore would run an eight-play drive in the two-minute drill.

The drive was all passes and stalled out at the Ravens’ 46-yard line. The Ravens lost 24-23, with both timeouts remaining left unused and running back Ray Rice targeted only once on the drive.

In Week 13 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Charlie Batch was hit while throwing by Ma’ake Kemoeatu early in the third quarter and the ball came out.

Before the whistle blew, Baltimore recovered the football, but the play and subsequent replays clearly showed Batch’s arm moving forward.

Harbaugh challenged the ruling on the field, one that seemed fairly obvious to be ruled correctly.

What made this a costly decision in hindsight was that by 7:57 of the third quarter, the Ravens had used their second timeout in a 13-13 game against the Steelers.

Pittsburgh used a 6:14 drive to close out the game, with Shaun Suisham kicking a game-winning 42-yard field goal with no time left, in part because the Ravens could not stop the clock.

10 stats to know: Super Bowl

January, 21, 2013
The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will meet in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on February 3.

Here are 10 notes, nuggets and numbers you need to know heading into the matchup:

Har-bowl 2
It will be the second game in NFL history between head coaches who are brothers and first since the Ravens beat the 49ers 16-6 in Week 12 last season.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh are the only brother head coaches in league history.

Both teams bounce back
Both the Niners and Ravens reach the Super Bowl a year after losing in their respective conference championship games. It’s just the second Super Bowl between teams to lose in AFC and NFC Championships the previous season.

The Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX after both teams lost in the 1994 Conference Championship games.

Ravens own the playoffs
At 13-7 all-time in the postseason, the Ravens own the best win percentage (.650) of any franchise in postseason history. The 49ers aren’t far behind with a .609 win percentage, good for fourth all-time.

Flacco gunning for Montana
With eight touchdown passes and zero interceptions, Joe Flacco has a shot to tie or break Joe Montana's record for most touchdown passes without throwing an interception in a single postseason.

Every quarterback who has finished a postseason throwing at least eight touchdowns without a pick has not only won the Super Bowl, but also the Super Bowl MVP.

Ray Lewis: Tackling Machine
After recording 14 tackles in the AFC Championship game against the Patriots, Lewis leads the NFL with 44 tackles this postseason.

That’s the most by any player since Dan Morgan had 45 for the Panthers in the 2003 playoffs.

Kaepernick amongst inexperienced Super Bowl starters
Colin Kaepernick has started just nine games in his career including the playoffs. That’s the third fewest starts by a quarterback prior to starting in the Super Bowl.

Jeff Hostetler led the Giants to a win in Super Bowl XXV with just six starts under his belt. Vince Ferragamo’s Rams lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV.

Niners expanding their options
In the seven regular season games Kaepernick started, San Francisco used the option a total of 26 times, averaging 5.4 yards per rush with three touchdowns.

The Niners have greatly increased the use of the option their two playoff games, running the play 29 times while averaging 8.4 yards per rush with four touchdowns.

Ravens need to prep for Niners options
Baltimore’s only experience against the option this season came in Week 14 against the Redskins. The Redskins ran for 93 yards on 15 options (6.2 yards per rush) in the game.

Lookout Pittsburgh
The 49ers are a perfect 5-0 in Super Bowls – the best record of any franchise. Five Super Bowl titles are tied with Cowboys for second most, one back of the Steelers (6).

Defense wins championships
San Francisco allowed 17.1 points per game in the regular season, second best in the NFL behind the Seattle Seahawks.

History bodes well for the Niners: teams with a top-2 scoring defense are 16-5 all-time in Super Bowl when not facing another top-2 scoring defense.

Colts-Ravens: What you need to know

January, 2, 2013
The Baltimore Ravens host the Indianapolis Colts at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs. Here are eight notes, nuggets and numbers you need to know heading into the matchup:

A league of their own
Joe Flacco is the only starting quarterback in NFL history to reach the playoffs in each of his first five seasons. John Harbaugh is the only head coach in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first four seasons. He’s the first head coach to reach the playoffs in his first five seasons since Bill Cowher, who made it in his first six seasons from 1992-97.

Improving by the week (maybe)
Andrew Luck has no turnovers in his last three games after leading the NFL with 23 turnovers in his first 13 games. But Luck has completed no more than half his passes in five straight games, which is tied for the second-longest streak by any starting QB in a season in the last 10 years.

Taking chances
Luck has thrown 10 interceptions on passes 15 or more yards downfield this season, tied with Mark Sanchez and Drew Brees for most in the league. Seven of Luck’s interceptions on such throws have come on the road, most in the NFL.

Not throwing downfield as much lately
Entering Week 15, Flacco had the second-highest average target depth (9.8 yards) in the NFL. Under new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, Flacco’s average target depth has dropped to 7.6 yards over the last three weeks. The Ravens are 7-1 this season when Flacco completes at least 40 percent of his passes more than 10 yards downfield. They are 3-5 when Flacco completes less than 40 percent of such passes, with all three wins coming against teams with losing records.

Relying on rookies
Colts rookies have combined for 3,108 yards from scrimmage this season, the most by any team’s rookies since the merger, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Not the same D
The Ravens defense allowed 49.1 rushing yards after contact per game this season, the 7th-most in the NFL. In both 2010 and 2011, the Ravens had allowed the 7th-fewest rushing yards after contact per game (38.5 in 2010, 44.1 in 2011).

But the D is better lately
The Ravens have allowed fewer than 200 yards in each of their last two games after allowing at least 280 yards in every other game this season.

Been there, done that
The Ravens are 5-1 in the Wild Card Playoffs, tied with the Redskins for the best record by any team in the Wild Card Playoffs (minimum four games).

Cards must protect Skelton vs stout 49ers D

October, 29, 2012
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesThe key for the Cardinals tonight may be protecting this guy.
First place in the NFC West will be on the line when the Arizona Cardinals host the San Francisco 49ers tonight on Monday Night Football at 8:30 ET on ESPN.

It's a meeting of two of the league's best defenses. The 49ers currently lead the league in fewest yards allowed per game (272.3) and are tied for first in points allowed per game (14.3). The Cardinals are sixth in yards (312.1) and fourth in points (16.9).

This will be the sixth Monday Night Football meeting between these teams, with the 49ers winning four of the previous five.

The key for the 49ers on the offensive side will be their running game. Under Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers are 17-0 when they run the ball at least 25 times and 1-5 when they don’t.

If they maintained their current average of 5.9 yards per carry, it would be the NFL's highest single-season mark since the merger.

The other key is reducing turnovers, particularly with their quarterback. Alex Smith led the NFL with a Total QBR of 81.1 through Week 5, but his last two games haven't been so good. Smith has thrown five interceptions this season (including four in last two games), matching his total for all of 2011.

Perhaps one of the reasons for Smith’s recent struggles is due to a sprained finger in Week 5 against the Buffalo Bills. Since that game, his downfield throwing has taken a hit. Smith has gone 5-of-13 (38.5 percent) on throws more than 10 yards downfield his last two games (third-worst), after leading the NFL in completion percentage on such throws (59.5) through the first five weeks of the season.

The key for the Cardinals will be protecting their quarterback John Skelton.

The Cardinals have allowed a league-high 35 sacks (seven more any other team). Arizona's passers have now been sacked 29 times in their last four games, the most suffered by any NFL team over a four-game span since the Cardinals themselves were sacked 29 times over four games in November 1997 (according to Elias).

Skelton hasn’t been particularly great.

Skelton has thrown an interception in 10 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL.

Skelton has completed just 44.4 percent of his attempts to Larry Fitzgerald more than 10 yards downfield this season, while Kevin Kolb has completed 62.5 percent of such passes this season.

But the Cardinals defense has kept them in games this season. They’re the only team to hold each opponent this season to 21 points or fewer.

49ers, Ravens run defenses dominate

November, 22, 2011
On the surface, the headline story of the Thanksgiving night game is San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh taking on his brother, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, the first brother vs brother head coaching matchup in NFL history. In fact, they're the only brother head coaching combination in NFL history.

But, once the whistle blows, the 49ers and Ravens game will feature two smashmouth teams on the field. If Thursday’s game comes down to running the football, both teams will be up against a stingy run defense.

The Ravens are allowing only 3.3 yards per rush, the lowest mark in the NFL. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ defense has the best EPA (Expected Points Added) rushing per 100 plays at -18.8. This adjusts for down/distance, field position and time remaining. (Note: only accounts for designed rushes, not QB scrambles.)

San Francisco is also one of three teams to not allow a rushing TD in its first 10 games since the merger, joining the 1997 49ers and the 1986 New York Jets.

While the Ravens have built a reputation as one of the toughest defenses in the league, the 49ers are more of a surprise. San Francisco can thank Patrick Willis and NaVarro Bowman, one of the best middle linebacker duos in the league, for their success.

Patrick Willis
With Willis and Bowman, San Francisco has one of the best rush defenses, relying heavily on their front seven to stop the run. The 49ers load the box, when the defense has more players in the box than the offense has available blockers, on only 8.6 percent of the opposing team’s plays, fewest in the league. Expect the Ravens to apply more pressure, as they load the box on 19.5 percent of the time.

Opposing running backs have a tough time breaking tackles against the 49ers, as their defense is allowing 1.55 yards after contact per rush, second-lowest in the league.

When it comes to short-yardage situations, both teams offer little real estate. The 49ers have allowed nine rushing yards on eight rushes (1.13 yards per rush) in goal-to-go situations this season, compared to 1.26 yards per rush allowed by the Ravens.

On third down rushes with three yards or fewer to gain, San Francisco has limited opponents 0.50 yards per rush on 10 rushes, while Baltimore allows only 1.46 yards per rush on 13 rushes.

You can't ignore the impact that Harbaugh has had on the 49ers in his first year with the club. The 49ers were coming off a 6-10 season and haven't made the playoffs since 2002. This year, Harbaugh had led the 49ers to a 9-1 start, as many wins as the other three NFC West teams have combined this season.

Harbaugh turning around a team isn't unprecedented. He took over a Stanford team that went 1-11 in 2006, and in each of his four seasons with the school, improved its record up to his final year, when he led the Cardinal to an 11-1 record and an Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech.

San Francisco has won eight straight games since an overtime loss in Week 2 to the Cowboys. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the fourth-longest win streak by a rookie head coach since the NFL-AFL merger.

Should the 49ers win on Thanksgiving and the Seahawks lose Sunday, San Francisco will clinch the NFC West, just 11 games into the season. That would tie the mark for fewest games into a season to clinch a division title since 1978, last done by the 2009 Indianapolis Colts.

Harbaugh has history of clashes

October, 16, 2011
On Sunday following the San Francisco 49ers 25-19 win over the Detroit Lions, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions head coach Jim Schwartz had to be separated on the field. Harbaugh enthusiastically celebrated his come-from behind-win following the postgame handshake, which Schwartz found inappropriate and resulted in a heated exchange.

Here are some other notable heated exchanges involving Harbaugh during his career as a NFL quarterback and college coach.

While quarterback for the Chicago Bears in 1992, Harbaugh called an audible at the line with the Bears ahead 20-0 that resulted in an interception returned for a touchdown against the Vikings. That play led to a sideline confrontation between Harbaugh and Bears head coach Mike Ditka as Harbaugh was under strict orders not to audible at the Metrodome. That play sparked a Vikings rally as they came back to beat the Bears 21-20.

While quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts in 1997, Harbaugh missed several weeks of the season with a broken hand following an altercation with former Bills quarterback and then NBC TV analyst Jim Kelly. It was a result of comments made by Kelly publicly questioning Harbaugh's heart and toughness, which led to a scuffle between the two before a game in Indianapolis.

While head coach at Stanford University in 2009, Harbaugh led the Cardinal to a 55-21 victory over USC at the Los Angeles Coliseum. After the game, Harbaugh and then-Trojans coach Pete Carroll met at midfield and exchanged words as a result of Harbaugh electing to attempt a two-point conversion late in the game despite being ahead a large margin.
With Donovan McNabb headed to the Minnesota Vikings, the hope is that he can bring stability to a position until first-round pick Christian Ponder is ready to take over as the team's starting quarterback of the future.
Donovan McNabb

The Vikings used three starters in 2010: Brett Favre (5-8), Joe Webb (1-1) and Tarvaris Jackson (0-1). Inconsistency at quarterback is why Minnesota's 67.7 passer rating in 2010 ranked 30th in the NFL. Only the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers had lower passer ratings than the Vikings.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, few teams in recent history had a larger decline in production from the quarterback position than the Vikings from 2009 to 2010. Minnesota's passer rating went from 107.3 in 2009 to 67.7 last season. That decrease of 39.6 points was the largest for any team since the 1974 Atlanta Falcons, who had a drop of 47.7 points from the previous season.

McNabb saw his completion percentage, passer rating and yards per attempt drop against added pass rush last season, but that might not be as much of an issue in Minnesota. Excluding the Vikings, NFC North defenses rushed 5+ defenders on only 28.0 percent of dropbacks, well below the league average of 33.4 percent.

McNabb's move to Minnesota can't be any worse than last year's lost season in Washington. In fact, McNabb has shown during his career that he's put up better numbers indoors than outdoors. He has a 96.3 passer rating in games played in domes, which ranks fourth among active quarterbacks who have attempted at least 400 passes indoors. What's more, the Vikings play 10 of their 16 games this season indoors: eight at home plus road games against Detroit and Atlanta.

McNabb also will have the luxury of having one of the top running backs in the game to hand the ball to in Adrian Peterson, who has rushed for at least 1,200 yards in each of his first four seasons. Since McNabb became an everyday starter in 2000, he's had a running back rush for at least 1,000 yards only three times: Duce Staley in 2002 and Brian Westbrook in 2006-07.

One more from the Elias Sports Bureau: if McNabb starts Week 1 for Minnesota at San Diego, then it will be the third different team in the last three seasons that he's started for on opening weekend. The only other quarterbacks who have done that since the merger in 1970 are Jim Harbaugh (1997 Colts, 1998 Ravens, 1999 Chargers), Kurt Warner (2003 Rams, 2004 Giants, 2005 Cardinals) and Favre (2007 Packers, 2008 Jets, 2009 Vikings).
With preparations for the 2011 NFL season starting soon under much different circumstances than in previous seasons, the teams with consistency in the head coaching and coordinator ranks are likely to have an advantage. No new system(s) to implement and fewer new coach-player relationships to build will ease the burden of shortened timeframes.

Eight teams will start the season with a different head coach than at the start of the 2010 season, a dramatic increase from the three head-coaching changes from the start of 2009 to the start of 2010. That's just three short of the NFL record (since the merger in 1970), set in 1976 and tied in 1997.

Three of the eight new coaches have previous head-coaching experience and two of them -- Jason Garrett and Leslie Frazier -- got that experience as interim coaches last season, coaching 14 games between them. John Fox is the only new guy with even a full season under his belt, taking over in Denver after nine seasons in Carolina.

Only 13 teams will have the stability of entering the season with the same head coach, offensive and defensive coordinator that they ended last season with. On the other end of the spectrum, there are four teams that will have new men in all three positions -- the Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans.

Twelve different teams will have a new offensive coordinator and only three of those teams were in the top half of the league last season in yards gained. On the other side of the ball, 12 teams will have a new defensive coordinator and five of them were in the top half on the league in yards allowed last season.

Seven of the 13 teams with the same three coaches were playoff teams a year ago and none of the four teams that are changing all three positions made the postseason. In fact, they combined to go just 22-42 in 2010 with only the Raiders (8-8) winning more than 6 games.

Keep in mind, since the merger in 1970, only 11 first-year head coaches took their team to the Conference Championship Game and just five of those played in the Super Bowl.

Carolina Panthers
Ron Rivera
Entering first season as NFL head coach
Replaces: John Fox
Team W-L in 2010: 2-14 (last in NFC South)
Previous job: Chargers defensive coordinator

Cleveland Browns
Pat Shurmur
Entering first season as NFL head coach
Replaces: Eric Mangini
Team W-L in 2010: 5-11 (3rd in AFC North)
Previous job: Rams offensive coordinator

Dallas Cowboys
Jason Garrett
Entering second season as NFL head coach (5-3 in 2010)
Replaced: Wade Phillips
Team W-L in 2010: 6-10 (T-3rd in NFC East)

Denver Broncos
John Fox
Entering 10th season as NFL head coach (73-71 in 9 seasons with Panthers)
Replaces: Josh McDaniels and Eric Studesville (interim)
Team W-L in 2010: 4-12 (last in AFC West)
Previous job: Panthers head coach

Minnesota Vikings
Leslie Frazier
Entering second season as NFL head coach (3-3 in 2010)
Replaced: Brad Childress
Team W-L in 2010: 6-10 (T-3rd in NFC North)

Oakland Raiders
Hue Jackson
Entering first season as NFL head coach
Replaces: Tom Cable
Team W-L in 2010: 8-8 (3rd in AFC West)
Previous job: Raiders offensive coordinator

San Francisco 49ers
Jim Harbaugh
Entering first season as NFL head coach
Replaces: Mike Singletary and Jim Tomsula (interim)
Team W-L in 2010: 6-10 (3rd in NFC West)
Previous job: Stanford head coach

Tennessee Titans
Mike Munchak
Entering first season as NFL head coach
Replaces: Jeff Fisher
Team W-L in 2010: 6-10 (T-3rd in AFC South)
Previous job: Titans offensive line coach

What Harbaugh touches turns to gold

December, 15, 2010
He’s already received a contract extension offer from Stanford and is the subject of countless college football coaching rumors. It’s not likely to be a quiet month off the field for Jim Harbaugh – plus he still has to coach his team in its BCS bowl game against Virginia Tech.

But Harbaugh has only his success at Stanford to blame for the extra attention. Over the last two years, Stanford has posted back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1995-96. The Cardinal’s No. 4 spot in the AP Poll is its highest since 1970.

Here are a few areas where Harbaugh’s golden touch has elevated the Stanford Cardinal program:

In 2006, Stanford was one of six FBS teams that won one or fewer games. Four seasons later, Harbaugh took the Cardinal from losing 11 to winning 11.

That kind of turnaround doesn’t have a lot of company. Over the last 40 years, Stanford is just the third team to go from one win to 11 wins in as short as four seasons.

The other two were Louisville, which did it in 2001 under coach John L. Smith, and Pittsburgh, which won the 1976 national championship under coach Johnny Majors.

This year’s Stanford team has already set school season records for points (484), scoring average (40.3 PPG) and total offense (5,608 yards).

In the last two seasons alone, Harbaugh has coached Heisman runner-ups (Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck). Both were named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year.

And under Harbaugh, Stanford has posted three of the top four rushing seasons in team history.

Stanford is 3-1 against USC under Harbaugh, including wins over the No. 2-ranked Trojans in 2007 and No. 11-ranked Troy in 2009 in Los Angeles.

The Cardinal won in South Bend for the first time since 1992 and beat Notre Dame in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever.

And two of the rivalry wins have come in especially punishing fashion. Stanford scored 55 points in a 2009 showdown with USC, its most ever against the Trojans. Then the Cardinal put an emphatic stamp on this year’s season, hanging 48 on California -- the most Stanford has ever scored in the history of The Big Game.
A quick preview of tonight's college football action:

UAB at Central Florida, 8 ET on ESPN
• Three of UAB’s four games this season have been decided on the last play

• Central Florida has won six of seven all-time meetings

• UAB lost double-OT heartbreaker to Tennessee last game

• Conference opener for UCF: they’re carrying a six-game conference win streak

Let's also take a moment and recognize the coaching class of 2007. Seventeen coaches took the reins of programs that year and many are enjoying great success so far this season.