clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Lovie Smith isn't as passive as he's reputed to be

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Lovie Smith has the reputation of being an old-school, defensive-minded head coach. And to a large extent, that's entirely earned: he's a defense-first coach who emphasizes preventing turnovers and likes to run the ball, when he can. But one area where he's not old-school is going for it on fourth down and other short-yardage situations. There, he actually takes a decent amount of chance.

Though you couldn't tell that from the odds last year. Football Outsiders ranked him 23rd of the 33 NFL head coaches in their Aggressiveness Index. Not a terrible ranking, but certainly not very aggressive. And it's long since been demonstrated that NFL coaches do not go for it with nearly the frequency they should, if they want to maximize their chances of winning.

But Lovie Smith's lack of aggression can be explained by one simple fact: his offense was godawful in 2014 and had a significantly lower chance of successfully doing anything, let alone converting short-yardage situations. The fact that Smith wasn't at the bottom of that table is a miracle all by itself, given that information.

And we know that Lovie Smith really isn't that passive of a coach. Despite coaching mostly miserable offenses over his career, he ranked slightly above average over the period 1991-2012 in aggressiveness, with a 1.09 aggressiveness index -- significantly higher than what he did last year, suggesting that that was mostly due to Josh McCown and the offensive linemen of doom.

Expect the Bucs to go for it a lot more often this year. And that's a good thing.