Less May Be More

July 21st, 2016
Coaching staffs too big?

Staffs too big?

Smaller coaching staffs mean winning.

That’s the findings from Pat Kirwan’s research. The former New York Jets linebackers coach and pro personnel director, and current SiriusXM NFL Radio talking head, Kirwan believes NFL coaching staffs have gotten to large.

In short, Kirwan believes large coaching staffs are too many cooks in the kitchen where the message of the head coach and or coordinators gets diluted if not ignored. That’s what Kirwan writes on his terrific site, RealFootballNetwork.com.

This goes against a belief that more coaches provides more one-on-one training. Kirwan thinks the opposite is occurring; larger staffs provide mixed messages.

Kirwan looked at the teams with the smallest coaching staffs in the NFL. The five teams with the smallest coaching staffs were all in the playoffs, most perennial playoff teams (New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Carolina and Cincinnati). Those teams had an average of 18 coaches per staff and a combined record of 59-21 in 2015.

The teams with the most coaches on staff last year were Buffalo, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Oakland, which Kirwan writes have an average of 25.4 coaches per team. The combined record of those five teams last year was 28-52.

For the record, per Wikipedia.com, Lovie Smith had a staff of 19 in 2015. This year Dirk Koetter has 21 (Zack Grossi’s position is an administrative and scouting position).

Is Kirwan’s research a pattern or a fluke? Well, the Belichats, Steelers and Packers are three of the best organizations in the NFL, and have been for decades. Joe thinks that may have more bearing on the wins and losses than the size of the coaching staff.

Oddly enough, those three teams also may have the three best quarterbacks in the NFL.

8 Responses to “Less May Be More”

  1. Buccfan37 Says:

    I agree less is more. Too many cooks in the kitchen. It ain’t rocket science after all.

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    Pat Kirwan makes a good point here about HC and coaching staffs, but without considering the GM and his staff, and the experience level of the HCs the assessment is incomplete. All of the perennial playoff teams (those with the fewest assistant coaches?) that you mentioned Joe have highly experienced HCs who’ve gotten good results over many years. They also appear to have pretty solid front office folks who know how to build a team. Many of the also-rans (like Cleveland, Oakland, and yes our beloved Bucs for the past few years) can’t say the same. Maybe those teams increase staff size to compensate for deficiencies elsewhere?

  3. R.O. Says:

    Correct DR… All of those teams have had core coaching staffs for 5-10 years. Bottom have had higher turn over (Blt the exception) but they had injury issues last year. . PK not taking all factors in to his analysis.

  4. mike Says:

    The good thing about our staff make up is we have Mike Smith a former HC so Kotter can turn the whole D over to him and let him run that side of the ball.

  5. gotbbucs Says:

    The QBS being in place for a long time is a big difference, the coaches have been there for a long time, the roster hasn’t been up heaved due to a new staff being brought in, and they have a tradition that gets ingrained into the players very early.
    So no, the staffs of those teams doesn’t have nearly as much pressure on them to implement schemes and culture.

  6. James Walker Says:

    The bad thing about our staff is that in 2017 we will be looking for yet another Defensive Coordinator. Hopefully Smith is already grooming his replacement in house.

  7. NashvilleBuc Says:

    I believe it is just as likely that the converse is true. Teams with losing records are trying to coach their way to improvement. I can’t believe that fewer coaches could be more effective in trying to change behavior of multiple players in multiple positions. The more 1-1 the better, provided the coaches are in sync and aligned. The same is true in school (teacher:student ratio) and business (manager:employee ratio). Well managed, smaller groups should accelerate faster.

  8. feelthepewterpower Says:

    is the common denominator coaching size or drafting, Joe?! It doesn’t matter how many coaches you have or even who, if you don’t have the talent to execute the plays it doesn’t matter. those five teams you listed have probably drafted more starters combined than the last five teams, I am willing to venture.