Head coach Jay Gruden is in his second year as a head coach and is the fourth youngest in the NFL. But when it's come to making big decisions in games in 2015, it seems like he's been doing this for much longer.
The good people at ESPN put something together known as the “Strategy Score,” a metric that ranks all 32 head coaches according to how well they handle going for it on fourth downs, throwing challenge flags and managing the clock late in games.
Gruden ranks fourth on the list behind Ron Rivera, Mike McCarthy and Bill Belichick.
For fourth down aggressiveness, numbers were assigned based on examining all of the fourth down decision in the first three quarters and using controls for score, distances and locations on the field. The number is a representation of the extra number of times each coach woud have gone for it on fourth down facing the same situation, compared to the most conservative coach (Mike McCoy of the Chargers).
For challenge mistakes, any clear mistakes in the challenge flag being thrown – in other words, times when it would have been foolish to waste a timeout or video evidence suggesting it be unwise to challenge -- were noted and docked points.
For clock management mistakes, the numbers were based on end-of-game clock management decisions where a mistake would have a significant impact on the final outcome. These are mostly for poorly used timeouts and occasional late-game field goal attempts.
Gruden's number comes out to 4.22 with zero challenge mistakes and just one timeout mistake, pushing his overall strategy score to 3.22.
According to ESPN:
"After facing clock management questions in his first year, Gruden has made only one clear mistake in 2015. Even that mistake -- failing to start calling timeouts before the two-minute warning at the end of the Week 1 game against Miami -- hurt his team less than most clock management errors made by other coaches. My analysis also shows Gruden not making any important mistakes with the challenge flag."