Lovie Smith And The Passing GameJune 23rd, 2014
Joe isn’t much of a numbers guy outside of the commonly used stats. Joe is suspicious of the stat-heavy crowd because even Joe learned in high school that one can twist numbers any way in order to push an agenda.
(In baseball terms, Joe is a proud member of the Baseball Amish, who cringe at the numerical feces eggheads constantly try to throw in people’s faces. Just let Joe enjoy the damn game, will ya?)
One football stathead Joe does enjoy is Chase Stuart of Football Perspective. His research usually digs up all sorts of neat gems and exposes trends. Recently, Stuart Twittered something that raised Joe’s antennae.
Lovie Smith’s win/loss record relative to his team’s passing offenses is quite spectacular.
— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) June 21, 2014
Stuart did not qualify this post. He had no follow-up offering what was good, bad or indifferent between Bucs coach Lovie Smith, the passing game, and wins and losses. So Joe went to Pro Football Reference and NFL.com to research.
Below is each season Lovie spent in Chicago, his win-loss mark and in parentheses, and the passing ranking of the Bears that season.
2004: 5-11 (32)
2005: 11-5 (31)
2006: 13-3 (14)
2007: 7-9 (15)
2008: 9-7 (21)
2009: 7-9 (17)
2010: 13-5 (28)
2011: 8-8 (26)
2012: 10-6 (29)
Joe doesn’t exactly get where Stuart is coming from here. There doesn’t seem to be any correlation between passing and winning with Lovie in Chicago. However, Joe did uncover a clear trend: when Lovie’s teams don’t attempt a lot of passes, they fare much better. Lovie’s Bears teams were among the top 10 in passing attempts in 2007 (Brian Griese, Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman) and 2009 (Jay Cutler), both 7-9 seasons. But overall, Lovie had good teams with both poor passing and decent passing, and bad teams with both decent passing and poor passing.
Lovie has never had a top-notch passing attack.
The only thing Joe found interesting is how rank the Bears passing game has ranked with bratty Jay Cutler. That’s surprising.