Joe D has gone from fan favourite to goat in a few easy steps.
Back in 2009 he gained a lot of kudos, not only for bouncing back from the neck injury but also for improving a special teams performance that had languished amongst the worst in the league for a number of seasons. In fact, when time came to let Wade ride off into the sunset, the notion of giving Joe the big job wasn't seen as a completely crazy idea.
But 2 games into 2012 they are back on the bottom, which begs the question, how ordinary have our special teams been during Joe D's tenure? To assess this I have looked at rankings from PFF, Football Outsiders and a count of big plays (Blocks and TDs).
PFF's rankings are based on assessing individual players. But ultimately the job of a coach is to get the best from his players so their aggregate rankings are a reasonable measure of the coaches performance. The chart below shows the PFF aggregate score of the Cowboy's special teams. As individual kicker and punter's scores are a very high proportion of the total score I have shown the score with and without the kickers scores. (sorry can't get the chart to work, I have a URL via dropbox, but site doesn't like it..., so table instead)
|PFF without kickers|
It is clear from the scores the Joe D has driven a big improvement since taking over in 2009. Of concern however, is that there was a big jump in his first year, taking the team from a 30th ranking to 10th, the team has declined every year since. Further, if you take out McBriar's punts and Beuller's kickoffs, the overall team performance remained in negative territory. And the performance so far in 2 games in 2012 on a pro rata basis is almost twice as bad as 2008.
FO do a relatively complex assessment of relative performance, but in simple terms their analysis looks something like this:
2008 ranked 27th : everything but Folk's FGs sucked
2009 ranked 14th: Folk got the yips but Beuhler's kickoffs and Crayton's 2 punt return TDs jumped us up the list
2010 ranked 15th: Kick returns still suck, Beuhler's FGs are below average but Mcbriar's punting and 3 Punt return Ds (2 by Dez) keep us up the list
2011 ranked 25th: After 2 great years, Punt returns now suck, as do Punts with McBriar's injury. Other areas around average
2012 ? game 2 not incorporated yet but we were 20th after game 1....
FO thus confirms the same decline as PFF. Also doesn't show much consistentency - other than Kick Returns which were consistently bad....
The table below shows big plays - Kicks blocked and TDs scored by the Cowboys and their opponents. Small numbers but again the same story, nice jump in net big plays in 2009 but decline since then.
|Kicks Blocked||TD Scored||NET|
Joe D. got us back to average in 2009 but we have gone backwards since then. That does not seem sufficient in my book for him to keep his job. However, I can see only bad things from letting him go during the season so if I was JG I would make it very clear he is coaching for his job and give him all the support I can - but if there isn't a significant recovery through the balance of the season, then Joe must Go!
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