Comparing Redskins’ defensive coordinator candidates

Yesterday the Washington Redskins decided to interview Rob Ryan, former New Orleans Saints’ defensive coordinator, for their open DC position. This interview was met with anger by fans and outright joy by rivals in the competitive NFC East. Along with Ryan, the Redskins also asked to interview Wade Phillips (who accepted the DC job in Los Angeles with Sean McVay), Gus Bradley, Mike Pettine, Greg Manusky, and Jason Tarver.

To compare all of these coaches, I decided to use FootballOutsiders’ “Team Defense Efficiency” rankings. These values are represented by “DVOA” or “Defense-adjusted Value Over Average” were created by tracking every single play and by using a standard rubric to quantify the play’s result. This is contrast to the traditional “Yards per game” or “Points allowed” metrics that are commonly used.

Why the need for a difference? Take this situation, for example:

  1. A defense holds an offense to a 3rd and 13. The offense gains 11 yards on teh next play, but is forced to punt.
  2. A defense holds an offense to a 3rd and 4, but allows 5 yards and the first down.

Clearly, situation (1) is better even though the defense allowed more net yards.

Without further ado, here is the source data from FootballOutsiders:

Redskins Defensive Coordinator Rankings

  • These values were directly pulled from the overall defense efficiency ratings and were not “weighted” for end of season averages.
  • I only pulled data from when a coach was the defensive coordinator or head coach. I’m sure the coach had some impact as a position coach, but it’s difficult to measure it independently.

I then graphed all the coaches side-by-side on this line graph:

Redskins Defensive Coordinator Graph ALL

Since the Redskins won’t be able to sign Wade Phillips nor does it look likely that they’ll be able to sign Gus Bradley, I broke out the four that I feel are most likely here:

Redskins Defensive Coordinator Graph Likely

In my opinion, Greg Manusky and Mike Pettine stand out as the best candidates for the job. If the team hired either coach to be the defensive coordinator, I would be perfectly content. While Tarver does have some DC experience back with the Raiders in 2012-2014, I feel like he’s still relatively unproven.

Looking at Rob Ryan’s rankings, I see three defenses in the top half of the NFL in his 12 years as a defensive coordinator… How he continues to get interviews is beyond me.



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