Back at the beginning of Garrett's Head Coaching tenure, he was asked a question about what stats he focussed on most and he identified two things:
Q: What are the two or three stats on offense you pay attention to most?
The stats that we emphasize for our football team more than anything else is the turnover differential. The correlation between turnover differential and winning in the NFL is significant. In 2010 it was significant, the last 10 years it's been significant, the last 20 and the last 30. And the players have heard this in meetings over and over and over again.
So turnover differential is significant, and then winning the fourth quarter is significant. There were a lot of games in the NFL that were within one score in the fourth quarter, and the teams that went to the playoffs won a lot of those games. Teams that did not go to the playoffs lost a lot of those games. It's really important to be good in the fourth quarter.
While he was specifically asked about the offense he actually answered the question from a whole team point of view. So now with 2 full year's under his belt, how has the red-headed genius performed against his own metrics?
In this post I am going to focus on Winning the 4th quarter. Firstly offence. The first part of the table is actual points by quarter and the second is the ranking vs the other NFL teams:
Note that Parcell's teams generally performed well in this ranking. Garrett carried over that strong performance into his first year but then it worsened under Phillips.
However since taking over as Head Coach, this metric has improved substantially with the Offence ranking 6th and then 1st over the last two seasons. Unfortunately that #1 ranking has come coupled with terrible rankings in the first two quarters - by far the Cowboys worst performance in the last 9 years. This confirms what we all saw - a season filled with come-backs and almost come-backs.
So at face value, Garrett gets an A against his metric. However it does beg the question as to whether this focus on the 4th quarter is partly to blame for the poor starts that plagued the offence the whole season. Is there something in the team's preparation or Garrett's game plan that puts them in the big hole, needing big come-backs every week? It does seem that Garrett uses the first half to test out his plans and then takes advantage in the second. The outcome would suggest he needs to identify and shift to what works more quickly next season. Perhaps Callahan can achieve this....
Next the defence:
After starting well under Phillips, the Defence's performance progressively declined over his tenure. 2009 stands out in particular, where the Defence was stellar in the first three quarters but fell apart in the 4th. This may stir painful memories for many of you.
Ryan improved things - but only from an F to a D - as the defence remained below average on this metric. Although there is an argument to say that the Defence's 4th Quarter performance would almost certainly have been impacted by all those injuries.
So on Garrett's own metrics, the offence showed strong improvement whereas the D did not. But this does come with question marks as the offence's slow starts were a major issue for the team this year.
I will post part 2 on Turnover differential in the next day or two. (Ed note: now posted: Turnover Differential and Why Ryan got Fired.)