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Matt Nagy has said time and time again that he wants to be aggressive on offense, whether that’s challenging defenses with deep balls, running gadget plays, or going for it on fourth down. But according to a recent analysis by Football Outsiders, Nagy was not as aggressive as some of his peers, at least on fourth down.
Since 2006 the Football Outsiders have published an “Aggressiveness Index,” which aims to measure how coaches decide to go for it on fourth down in relation to other coaches. The baseline is 1. A score of 1.5 means a coach will decide to go for it 50% more than other coaches in similar scenarios, while a score of 0.8 means a coach will go for it 20% less than other coaches in similar scenarios.
Last season, Nagy scored a 1.42 for going for it 12 times, over an expected 8.45 times, so you’d imagine he’d rank fairly high among all NFL coaches. But as the league has become more aggressive with high-powered offenses, that 1.42 score only ranked 21st in 2020. The most aggressive coach last season, per Football Outsiders’ AI measure, was Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury, who scored a 3.12. The least aggressive was former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio at 0.54
The AI determines whether a coach made an “aggressive” fourth down call by cutting out all attempts that come in obvious situations: “Third quarter, trailing by 15 or more points; fourth quarter, trailing by nine or more points; and in the last five minutes of the game, trailing by any amount,” says the Football Outsiders site. “It also excludes the last 10 seconds of the first half, and it adjusts for when a play doesn't actually record as fourth-and-short because of one of those bogus delay of game penalties that moves the punter back five yards. Only regular season is included.”
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