clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Dallas Cowboys Will Face One Of Least Experienced Group Of Head Coaches In 2017

The head coaches of the Cowboys' 16 opponents have 67 years of combined NFL head coaching experience, the second-lowest value in the NFL.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Back in the day, the NFC East featured some pretty experienced NFL head coaches. As recently as 2013, Mike Shanahan in Washington was in his 20th season as an NFL head coach, Tom Coughlin was in his 18th year, and Andy Reid in Philadelphia was in his 15th. Jason Garrett in Dallas (fourth year as head coach) was a young pup by comparison.

But things have changed in the NFC East. Entering the 2017 season, Jason Garrett is the veteran of the NFC East with seven years of NFL head coaching experience. Philly and New York have head coaches entering their sophomore season as head coaches, Jay Gruden in Washington has three years as an NFL head coach under his belt.

That means the Cowboys will play their six divisional games against a fairly inexperienced group of head coaches, and if we look at the entire 2017 schedule, the Cowboys' 16 opponents have just 67 years of combined NFL head coaching experience, the second lowest value in the NFL.

Week Opponent Head Coach
NFL HC Experience W-L%
1 New York Giants Ben McAdoo 1 .688
2 @ Denver Broncos Vance Joseph - - - -
3 @ Arizona Cardinals Bruce Arians 4 .648
4 Los Angeles Rams Sean McVay - - - -
5 Green Bay Packers Mike McCarthy 11 .651
6 Bye Week
7 @ San Francisco 49ers Kyle Shanahan - - - -
8 @ Washington Redskins Jay Gruden 3 .448
9 Kansas City Chiefs Andy Reid 18 .602
10 @ Atlanta Falcons Dan Quinn 2 .594
11 Philadelphia Eagles Doug Petersen 1 .438
12 Los Angeles Chargers Anthony Lynn - - - -
13 Washington Redskins Jay Gruden 3 .448
14 @ New York Giants Ben McAdoo 1 .688
15 @ Oakland Raiders Jack Del Rio 11 .509
16 Seattle Seahawks Pete Carroll 11 .588
17 @ Philadelphia Eagles Doug Petersen 1 .438

The Cowboys will play four games against teams with rookie head coaches (DEN, LAR, SF, LAC). Add Ben McAdoo and Doug Petersen with one year each, along with Dan Quinn (two years), and the Cowboys will play nine of their 16 games against NFL head coaches with two years or less of NFL head coaching experience, the highest such total in the league.

Of course, playing against inexperienced head coaches didn't work out as expected last season, as the Cowboys lost twice against rookie head coach Ben McAdoo from the Giants, and gifted rookie head coach Doug Petersen in Philly a meaningless Week 17 game.

In principle, you would think that playing against less experienced head coaches would be an advantage. As a rule, longer-tenured head coaches are more successful than their younger colleagues; in the what-have-done-for-me-lately NFL, losing coaches quickly lose their jobs, while winning coaches get their contracts extended. Of the 32 coaches heading into the NFL season, only six head coaches have a career losing record as a head coach: Jay Gruden (WAS) and Doug Petersen (PHI) in the NFC and Todd Bowles (NYJ), Doug Marrone (JAC), Mike Mularkey (TEN), and Hue Jackson (CLE) in the AFC.

At the same time, where veteran coaches are a known commodity, their less experienced counterparts are often less predictable, perhaps making them harder to game-plan for. But the lack of NFL head coaching experience doesn't automatically mean lack of NFL experience. Minnesota's Mike Zimmer is a case in point: Zimmer was a defensive coordinator in the NFL for 14 years (including from 2000-2006 in Dallas) before moving up into the top spot with the Vikings, and at 60 years of age, he's got plenty of football experience.

In a league that chews up and spits out unsuccessful coaches at a rapid-fire rate, playing against head coaches with a lot of NFL head coaching experience usually means you're playing against strong competition. Similarly, playing against teams without a lot of NFL head coaching experience usually means you're playing against weaker competition.

The Cowboys' 2017 opponents combine for only 67 years of NFL head coaching experience. Taken at face value, that's the second-lowest total in the league, an indication that the Cowboys face a favorable schedule this year, at least from a head coaching experience point of view. Whether that turns out to be an advantage or disadvantage depends largely on the Cowboys themselves.

Star_medium

Here is the full list of each team's 2017 opponent HC record based on PFR's list of head coaches. For your convenience, the table is sortable (just click on the blue column headers).

Combined Opponent NFL Head Coaching Experience by 2017 opponents
Team HC Years Games Won Lost Tied W-L %
SEA 59 925 578 343 4 .628
DAL 67 1068 616 446 6 .580
ARI 67 1053 631 419 3 .601
NE 69 1073 619 452 2 .578
IND 72 1111 600 506 5 .542
NO 72 1132 624 504 4 .553
NYG 73 1148 639 504 5 .559
KC 73 1137 665 471 1 .585
WAS 75 1180 677 500 3 .575
CAR 78 1227 691 535 1 .564
JAC 79 1238 683 550 5 .554
STL 81 1275 769 501 5 .606
PHI 87 1372 766 600 6 .561
OAK 88 1380 819 558 3 .595
SF 89 1405 832 567 6 .595
TB 92 1451 824 623 4 .569
CIN 93 1467 834 632 1 .569
HOU 95 1479 827 646 6 .561
CHI 95 1520 883 631 6 .583
NYJ 99 1565 954 609 2 .610
SD 101 1571 906 662 3 .578
ATL 103 1619 913 702 4 .565
TEN 105 1648 968 675 5 .589
MIA 112 1754 1055 697 2 .602
BAL 115 1814 997 810 7 .552
DEN 115 1809 1048 755 6 .581
DET 117 1872 1078 787 7 .578
BUF 119 1873 1130 738 5 .605
GB 120 1912 1065 842 5 .558
CLE 120 1886 1069 810 7 .569
MIN 121 1937 1102 828 7 .571
PIT 141 2235 1274 953 8 .572