Lovie Smith And The Passing Game

June 23rd, 2014

History shows Lovie fares well when his teams don’t throw the ball

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.

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.

11 Responses to “Lovie Smith And The Passing Game”

  1. SteveK Says:

    The Rex Grossman mob disagrees.

  2. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    Rex lead them to the Super Bowl and so we must give the RGM that!

    Perhaps the realization that Lovie got the Bears to a SB with Grossman at QB will make people relax about this year’s Q.B.’s. Although the RGM might disagree, pointing out that Rex just wasn’t appreciated.

  3. Bawlmerbucfan Says:

    Lovie seems to be all about what has been learned from the past (hence all of his references to the, “but we were 4-12 last season”). I’m guessing that what he learned about his own personal coaching tendencies is that despite going to the Super Bowl, did he ever win it? No, so in his year off after being fired, he realized he needed to change some (certainly not all) of his approaches. From reading the articles Joe has posted, it sure seems like an innovative offense is in store for us….something Lovie never had, but realizes he needs, if he ever wants to actually WIN the Super Bowl.

  4. SAMCRO Says:

    Doesn’t this dispel the notion that it’s not always imperative to have the best QB in your division? Look at 2005, 2010, and 2012.

    2005 ranked 31 in passing with #1 ranked defense

    2010 ranked 28 in passing with #4 ranked defense

    2012 ranked 29 in passing with #3 ranked defense

    Although it is every teams goal to land them a Manning, Bradee, Rodgers, or Brees type QB, this proves that it’s not always essential with a great defense.

  5. BucFanForever Says:

    I think the quote means that despite the uselessness of his offense, Lovie Smith finds a way to win games.

    The offense can be average or last, it doesn’t affect the seasons record.

  6. DallasBuc Says:

    I gleaned nothing relevant or interesting from this article. Boring ass dog days of summer are upon us. When does TC start again?

  7. dick2111 Says:

    Interesting analysis by Chase Stuart, and I can see where he’s coming from, but I have no idea where he’s going.

    If Lovie were still coaching the Bears this year, with the same coaching staff and essentially the same players, folks might be able to draw some conclusions based on his past records.

    But as it is, Lovie has a whole new team: new coaches (for the most part), new players, and a different division. The head coach is only one factor in terms of how well we do this year. It’s a lot more dependent on how well his coaches coach, how well his players play, and how well the other teams perform (especially in our division).

    One thing I do believe is that Lovie is a defense-oriented coach. Like Tony Dungy, he’ll give his offensive coordinator a LOT of latitude.

    I think our defense and special teams will play very well this year (Top Ten in both). Obviously there’s still a big question mark over our offense, but that’s to be expected … they haven’t played any games together yet. I’m convinced they’ll be better in 2015 than they’ll be this year (chemistry takes awhile to develop). But I also think they’ll surprise a lot of people this year offensively.

    Go Bucs!

  8. Rex Says:

    All of this is pretty much reflecting what lovie said at an earlier press conference. “A great defense alone can win 8 games in a season and an ok offense can win at least 3 or 4 more”. And it shows it

  9. Atlanta Buc Says:

    The only thing these stats illustrate to me, is that Lovie is a darn-good NFL head football coach, as well as the obvious, an excellent defensive minded coach. He truly is a regular chip-off-the-old block of his former boss and mentor, Tony Dungy. I will say it is comforting to know he can consistently win and give his teams a chance to advance into the playoffs, even with a lousy offense. Consistent leadership is what this organization needs again so very badly to start winning more football games and I think the Glazers got their man.

  10. Joe Says:

    Doesn’t this dispel the notion that it’s not always imperative to have the best QB in your division?

    No, because in the 2010 NFC championship game, Lovie and the Bears got beat by the best quarterback in their division.

  11. Bucfan77. Says:

    Joe learned in high school that one can twist numbers any way in order to push an agenda.
    You mean like people throwing around the numbers 4-12 just they don’t like a certain player?