Mike Tomlin One Of Least Aggressive Coaches In NFL Per Football Outsiders Metrics

In news that should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the Pittsburgh Steelers, head coach Mike Tomlin was named one of the least aggressive coaches in football per Football Outsiders’ aggressiveness index.

The aggressiveness index measures how likely a coach is to go for it on fourth-and-short, near the goal line, and near midfield. 1.0 is the baseline, so a coach that has a score of 1.5 goes for it roughly 50% more than other coaches. Tomlin graded out at 0.59, meaning he goes for it 41% less than his peers. That rank is 29th in the NFL, as the only coaches with a lower score than Tomlin were Dennis Allen of the New Orleans Saints, Robert Saleh of the New York Jets, and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.

At the top of the list was Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni, with a 1.57 aggressiveness score, which was ahead of Mike McDaniel, who came in at No. 2 with a 1.52 score. While Sirianni being number one lends credence to the idea that it’s better to be more aggressive, six of the top ten coaches in the aggressiveness index led teams that failed to make the playoffs. The Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs had their head coach in Andy Reid come in at No. 21 with a 0.83 score on the aggressiveness index.

There are definitely times when I think the Steelers should go for it more and get more aggressive, especially this past season with an offense that struggled for most of the season. But ultimately, that’s just not Tomlin’s M.O., and sometimes it’s for the better. With a defense that showed the ability to create a splash by leading the league in interceptions, sometimes punting away and trusting your defense to get a stop can be the right thing to do. While it’s not always the case and there are definitely times Tomlin should be more aggressive, his strategy has served him fairly well during his tenure in Pittsburgh.

Brian Daboll of the New York Giants was the least aggressive coach who led a playoff team, with a 0.74 score. That means he’s still 15% more likely than Tomlin to go for it in the situations that the index accounts for. With a quarterback now in Kenny Pickett who can effectively use his arms and his legs and who showed a penchant for converting QB sneaks this season, it might be smart for the Steelers to get just a bit more aggressive going forward.

For what it’s worth, Tomlin fell from 2021 in terms of aggressiveness. He came in at 23rd in the 2021 iteration of the index, with a score of 0.91. Maybe when Tomlin gets more comfortable with the offense and Pickett, we’ll see his aggressiveness score continue to climb.

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