Midseason Report Card for All 32 Offensive Coordinators
The middle of the NFL season is here. At this point, we know our Super Bowl contenders (Packers and Steelers) and our leaders in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes (Colts and Dolphins).
It has been a wild season with a lot of storylines. Tim Tebow has proven both the believers and the critics right in successive weeks, and the Green Bay Packers may not lose a game all season. Drew Brees and Tom Brady are making serious runs at Dan Marino's single-season passing record.
Yes, this is certainly an offensive league with a premium on points. It is time to hand out midterm report cards to all 32 offensive coordinators.
New York Giants
Kevin Gilbride: B
Eli Manning is having the best season of his career, and Kevin Gilbride deserves some credit. Manning is limiting the turnovers that have plagued him with 11 touchdowns to just five interceptions.
Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard have been great finds for Gilbride and the offense. Little was known about either player coming into the season, but they have stepped in for the departed Steve Smith and Kevin Boss admirably.
Manning and the passing offense rank sixth in the NFL, but the running game has been perplexing. For a team with two 1,000-yard rushers in Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, they rank 30th in the league in rushing.
As a whole, the team is putting up 25.7 points per game, good for ninth in the league. A great passing game and a lot of points on the board give Gilbride a good grade here.
Jason Garrett: C
Much like his embattled quarterback Tony Romo, there is something missing in Jason Garrett's offense. The Dallas Cowboys rank sixth in the NFL in yards per game, but slip to 10th in points. The offense has 14 turnovers, third-worst in the NFC.
The Cowboys had a chance to bury the rival Philadelphia Eagles, but instead got dismantled in a 34-7 loss. The offense saw their total yardage nearly doubled. A week after setting a franchise record for rushing yards, DeMarco Murray only had eight carries.
The play calling has been in question all season and almost definitely cost them a big win against the New England Patriots. The talent is there for the Cowboys, but their lack of identity at this point in the season has to fall on Garrett.
Kyle Shanahan: D
The Washington Redskins offense has fallen apart the last three weeks. Rex Grossman had his eventual meltdown, and it has all gone downhill from there.
Kyle and papa Mike lose points for not sticking with a permanent solution at quarterback. Mike claimed his staff had John Beck rated as the highest quarterback in the draft back in 2007. If that is true, whey didn't they stick with him from the start?
A quarterback change in the middle of the season rarely bodes well for any team, and the Redskins are no exception. In Beck's second start, the team got shut out by a Buffalo Bills defense that had given up fewer than 20 points once all season.
Indecision at the game's most important position and all-around mediocre play. Worst yet, the 'Skins have probably won just enough games to put them out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
Marty Mornhinweg/Andy Reid: C
Mornhinweg and Reid still have time to make this grade much higher or much lower. The Philadelphia Eagles offense is third in yards, but just 13th in points. They can thank the turnovers, an NFC-leading 17 of them.
After a four-game losing streak that could have derailed the season, Philadelphia has two big division wins to put them back in playoff contention. The team has dominated the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys in successive weeks.
The 34-7 win over Dallas was the Eagles' best and most complete win of the year. The team had 495 yards of total offense, and most importantly, zero turnovers. For my money, the team can thank the new commitment to the running game.
After running everything through Michael Vick, they have given LeSean McCoy a shot, and he has delivered. McCoy has 58 carries for 311 yards and three touchdowns in the Eagles' last two victories.
Playing off McCoy will make it that much easier for Vick to execute and take advantage of the rest of the team's explosive playmakers.
Green Bay Packers
Joe Philbin: A
The Green Bay Packers are second in the NFL in points scored and first in wins. The undefeated Super Bowl champs look absolutely brilliant on offense.
Aaron Rodgers is staking claim as the best player in football. The Super Bowl MVP has 20 touchdowns to only three interceptions and a ridiculous 125.7 QB rating.
On paper, it is easy to criticize the Packers running game (23rd in the NFL), but between James Starks, Ryan Grant and John Kuhn, the team can depend on the tough yards when they need them.
Scott Linehan: B+
A lot of credit goes out to Scott Linehan and Jim Scwartz. The Detroit Lions have turned from the NFL's doormats into one of the most feared teams in the league.
The Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson duo just might be the most dominant since Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss. Whenever a big play is needed, Stafford just chucks it up to the 6'5" receiver, and Johnson comes down with it.
The Thanksgiving Day bash between Detroit and the Green Bay Packers is the most anticipated Lions' game in recent memory.
Mike Martz: C
So when exactly can we stop calling Mike Martz an offensive genius? Wasn't the Greatest Show on Turf over a decade ago? And couldn't that have been more to do with Kurt Warner and his bevy or receivers than Martz?
In two years, Martz has yet to make an impact for the Chicago Bears. The idea was Martz would take the big-armed Jay Cutler and turn him into the quarterback he is supposed to be. Little progress has been made in that department, as Cutler's technique has not gotten any better.
In fact, the biggest development for the Chicago Bears offense has been abandoning Martz's love of the pass and embracing the running game. Instead of letting Cutler get knocked around, the team is committing to Matt Forte, and he is responding in a big way.
Forte already has over 1,000 total yards already and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The running back is the team's heart on offense and is helping Jay Cutler survive the season.
Bill Musgrave: D
The only positive part of the Minnesota Vikings offense is pretty much out of any coaches' hands. The dominance of Adrian Peterson running the football cannot be stopped. The pass is a different story.
The team ranks 29th in the NFL in passing and has seen few big plays. Christian Ponder has been a breath of fresh air, but he is too little too late to save the season. In building for next year, Ponder has given coaches some confidence he can get the job done.
After a gutsy performance against the Green Bay Packers, Ponder came back to beat super-rookie Cam Newton in his second start. For the offense to grow, Ponder has to be the answer at quarterback.
New Orleans Saints
Sean Payton/Pete Carmichael, Jr.: B
Sure Drew Brees is having another MVP-caliber season, but that is to expected. What is not is following one thumping of a winless team by losing to another. In a hotly-contested NFC South, the New Orleans Saints could look back on their loss to the St. Louis Rams as the reason they did not make the playoffs.
This was supposed to be the year the Saints relied less on Drew Brees and more on a balanced, power-running attack. Mark Ingram was going to be the focal point of that balance. For a player that seems to get stronger as the game goes on, Ingram has just 17 carries to mark his career high.
Ingram was brought in to create less pressure for Drew Brees to carry the offense. It is about time they used him that way.
Mike Mularkey: D
The Atlanta Falcons came into the season bragging about all their new toys. I don't think Mike Mularkey knows how to plays with them.
Matt Ryan has taken a step back this year and has his worst quarterback rating at 79.5. Julio Jones was supposed to take the pressure off Roddy White, but instead, neither have been very effective. Michael Turner has been a bright spot as the team has re-committed to the running game after the pass has failed them.
The NFC South is still open, so hopefully, the Falcons have figured some things out during their bye week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Greg Olson: C
With Josh Freeman coming into his third year, I would like to see a little more growth with this offense. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rank just 24th in the NFL in scoring.
After a huge win over the New Orleans Saints, the team dropped a disappointing game to the Chicago Bears. As soon as LeGarrette Blount returns to the lineup (supposedly after the bye), Olson needs to re-commit to the big fella. There is absolutely zero excuse for a running back with that much ability to have five carries in a game, as he did in the team's loss to the Lions.
Rob Chudzinski: A
Sometimes, it is not just about production, but rather how you produce with what you have. Chudzinski inherited the NFL's worst offense and turned it into the of the league's most exciting.
A lot of the credit goes to Cam Newton, but you cannot ignore an offensive coordinator's work when you see success in a rookie quarterback, no matter the talent of said quarterback. Newton has helped remind the rest of the league just how good Steve Smith is, as Smith again leads the NFL in receiving.
The Panthers are averaging twice as many points per game as in 2010 and over 150 more yards of total offense. Props to Chudzinski.
San Francisco 49ers
Greg Roman: B+
Statistically Roman's offense leaves a lot to be desired. The club features a bottom-30 passing game to go with a top-10 running attack.
Still, Roman and Jim Harbaugh are 6-1 and have made a winner out of a bust. Seriously, did we ever think a head coach would look Alex Smith straight in the eyes and yell "clutch" to the surrounding players in the locker room?
Frank Gore and the rush have gotten the 49ers there, but Smith has been a great game-manager and made plays late in games to seal wins. The man taken ahead of Aaron Rodgers has finally been a huge part of the 49ers' resurgence.
Darrell Bevell: D
The Seattle Seahawks brought in a lot of fresh faces to overhaul the offense. Robert Gallery, Sidney Rice and Zach Miller were all brought in to help defend Pete Carroll's NFC West crown. The one thing they forgot was a quarterback.
For some reason, the team thought it was a good idea to give Tarvaris Jackson a second chance after he proved again and again he was not worthy of one with the Minnesota Vikings. The pass (24th) has actually been better than the rush (31st), though playing from behind has a lot to do with that.
Marshawn Lynch was supposed to be the staple of this offense, with Sidney Rice providing the big plays. Lynch has been mediocre, and it's tough to establish a running game when you cannot depend on your quarterback to pick up the occasional third down.
Poor personnel management and a poor game plan.
Mike Miller: D
Kevin Kolb was supposed to bring back the explosion to this stagnant Arizona Cardinals offense. The passing game has only been successful if you compare it to the Cardinals 25th-ranked running game.
Kolb has been a huge bust after the king's ransom the team gave up to bring him in from the Philadelphia Eagles. On Sunday, the team could not hold a 21-point lead, and only a 45-yard Jay Feeley field goal stopped them from being blanked in the first half.
The Cardinals better hope they like some of what they see from Kolb because they are committed to the first-year starter for a long time.
St. Louis Rams
Josh McDaniels: F
Even after the St. Louis Rams' shocking win over the New Orleans Saints, McDaniels' offense is the worst in football.
After finishing a game from the NFC West Championship, this was supposed to be the young Rams' year. Instead, Sam Bradford has endured a horrid sophomore slump. Sunday's game was the first all season the Rams scored more than one touchdown, and Bradford was watching from the sidelines.
The offense has taken a big step back and is again Steven Jackson and nothing else.
New England Patriots
Bill O'Brien: A
The New England Patriots may not be the dominant Super Bowl contender of years past, but it has not been because of the offense. Tom Brady leads the game's best passing attack, while the running game is a solid 10th.
Brady has actually been slowed two weeks in a row for the first time I can remember. The Pittsburgh Steelers held on and finished the job Sunday instead of setting Brady up for a comeback win like the Dallas Cowboys.
Regardless, if and when the Patriots are eliminated from the playoffs, it won't be because of O'Brien's offense.
Curtis Modkins: A
The Buffalo Bills have gone from one of the NFL's worst offenses in 2010 to one of its most exciting. The Bills rank third in total offense and have been a true fan favorite.
The former Arizona Cardinals assistant now has Ryan Fitzpatrick locked up for the next six years, as the team made a serious commitment for the Harvard product to be their franchise quarterback. There has been plenty of "Fitzmagic" this season, and Bills fans will hope he has plenty for years to come.
New York Jets
Brian Schottenheimer: C
Is there an offense in the NFL that has done less with more? Schottenheimer has two Super Bowl heroes, a future Hall of Famer and a top five pick at quarterback to play with. All that, and the offense has been good for just over 15 points per game.
That is not going to cut if for a team that has yet again proclaimed it is a Super Bowl or bust season. The team tried to hand the offense over to Mark Sanchez, but he failed to execute with Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress.
The Jets have abandoned hope of Sanchez being anything more than the NFL's most publicized game-manager and have returned to the running game. Shonn Greene has carried the rock 41 times in the last two wins as the team snapped a three-game losing streak.
Brian Daboll: D
The only reason Daboll does not get an "F" here is the offense has played only slightly worse than the expectations. And that bar was set real, real low.
The winless Miami Dolphins just dropped their second straight winnable game, this time to the New York Giants. The running game has been surprisingly solid, as Reggie Bush is looking like a true running back for the first time in his career.
Bush is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and is set to smash his previous season rushing high. If the team bottoms out and drafts Andrew Luck, they could have a quick turnaround with Bush and Brandon Marshall.
Bruce Arians: B+
Serious props to Arians for turning around a season that could have been lost in the first few weeks. Everyone knew the offensive line was the Pittsburgh Steelers' Achilles' heel, and it was exactly that through the first quarter of the season.
Ben Roethlisberger was getting beat up, and at that rate, was in danger of not being able to finish the year. The team brought back left tackle Max Starks, and he has provided some stability to a line in desperate need of it.
Don't look now, but Big Ben may be making a serious run at an MVP season. After that slow start, Roethlisberger has 11 touchdowns and two interceptions in his last four games. He just outplayed golden boy Tom Brady, and the Steelers again control their own destiny in the AFC.
Cam Cameron: C
This was going to be the year Joe Flacco put it all together and the Baltimore Ravens overtook the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North. All was going to plan, at least for a week.
Flacco has regressed to the worst quarterback rating of his career, 75.4. He looks indecisive at times, is a statue in the pocket and is turning the ball over. The Ravens should have flexed their muscles on Monday Night, but instead were nearly shut out by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ray Rice has been his brilliant self with 862 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns. Anquan Boldin dusted off the cobwebs for 145 yards against his old team as the Ravens avoided another embarrassing loss by coming back against the Arizona Cardinals.
There is just too much talent for this offense to be so mediocre.
Jay Gruden: A
The Cincinnati Bengals had no quarterback, no wide receivers and were expected to be one of the NFL's worst teams.
Instead, Andy Dalton is giving Cam Newton a run as the NFL's Rookie of the Year. Dalton has completed over 62 percent of his passes and has a very solid quarterback rating of 82.7. He and A.J. Green are an explosive combination the team gets to watch develop.
With young talent and an extra first-round pick or two from the Oakland Raiders, the future looks very bright in Cincinnati.
Pat Shurmur/Chris Beake: C-
The Cleveland Browns were supposed to be the team giving AFC North powers fits, not the Cincinnati Bengals. As it is, the Browns rank near the bottom of the league in every statistical category.
Peyton Hillis has abandoned his team, and with him went the game plan. Colt McCoy has been OK in his first year as a starter, but the team was expecting more. If the Browns see a quarterback they like in the first round, they just might take him.
Rick Dennison: B+
After some shaky play, the Houston Texans have done just fine without their best player on offense, Andre Johnson.
Arian Foster's explosive step is back after being slowed by a bum hamstring. Last season's breakout star has 58 carries for 227 yards and three touchdowns in the team's last two wins. The Texans are finally taking control of the Peyton Manning-less AFC South and may never look back.
Matt Schaub is throwing for a ton of yards again. The difference this year is the Texans are finding a way to win games instead of finding new ways to lose them.
Chris Palmer: C+
Matt Hasselbeck has been a revelation, but what in the world is going on with Chris Johnson?
Formerly the most explosive player in football, Johnson has disappeared. Is he happy taking his money and (sort of) running? Or is it the blocking, as CJ2.8 claims? Whatever it is, Palmer has to get it figured out if the Texans want to get back in the race.
The NFL's worst running game featuring a player just two years removed from 2,000 yards? There are off years, but this is ridiculous.
Dirk Koetter: C-
Jack Del Rio did not do Koetter any favors by cutting the Jacksonville Jaguars starting quarterback a week before the season started, so he deserves some of the blame here. Still, Jacksonville's offense has been pretty rancid.
Though rookie Blaine Gabbert has provided some energy, the passing game still ranks last in the league. The only bright spot on the offense has been the dependable Maurice Jones-Drew. Mojo is still averaging 4.5 yards per carry in spite of teams stacking eight in the box.
Clyde Christansen: C-
The Indianapolis Colts' offense has been awful. Without Peyton Manning, they are playing exactly to expectations.
Christiansen earns the "minus" for starting Kerry Collins at the beginning of the year. Reggie Wayne was right; this is a complex offense, one built around the game-planning of Peyton Manning. There is no way a new quarterback could run it.
With the exception of the egg laid against the New Orleans Saints, the team has looked much better with Painter under center. Even if Manning is back next year, the Colts have to do something about the running game.
Between Joseph Addai and Donald Brown, the team has swung and missed twice. The Colts have had a mediocre running game for years, and it is finally catching up to them.
San Diego Chargers
Clarence Shelmon: B-
It seems like we say the same thing every year: There is an awful lot of talent for the San Diego Chargers not to be running away with the AFC West.
The team is 4-2, but they have won some ugly games over some pretty bad opponents. If the team surrenders the division lead to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night, Shelmon's grade goes down another notch.
Al Saunders: B
The team was performing just fine with Jason Campbell under center. Now everything is up in the air when they return from their bye with Carson Palmer controlling the Oakland Raiders' destiny.
Can a quarterback really come off the couch in the middle of the season and lead a team to the playoffs? We will soon find out. The running game is not in question and is one of the league's best. Darren McFadden is an absolute game-breaker, and Michael Bush is solid should Run-DMC's foot injury hamper him in any way.
The jury is still out in a big way in terms of grading the Oakland Raiders. Saunders deserves a heap of praise if he can get Palmer game-ready on the fly.
Kansas City Chiefs
Bill Muir: C
The Kansas City Chiefs' offense was anemic for three weeks, and very good for three. That balances out to an average C.
After being dead in the water, the Chiefs have a chance to take the AFC West lead in a Monday Night duel with the San Diego Chargers. Matt Cassel has picked up his play, but the Chiefs are still 30th in the NFL in passing. The running game has remained strong in spite of losing Jamaal Charles for the season.
Jackie Battle was a nice find filling in for Charles. We have seen the good (four touchdowns against the Colts), the bad (three interceptions to the Lions) and the ugly (two interceptions in a win against the Radiers) from Cassel this season. The Chiefs need way more consistency if they going to get back in this thing.
Mike McCoy: D
Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow? Does it really matter? The Denver Broncos offense stinks.
Tebow inspired some momentary hope with a miraculous comeback in his first start of the season. Then he displayed why all the critics said he cannot cut it as an NFL quarterback. Tebow was 18-for-39 (most of the completions in garbage time) with a pick-six against the Detroit Lions.
The running game leaves a lot to be desired as well. It may be time for a complete overhaul on the offensive side of the ball. Again. The team can thank former coach Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels traded away Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Peyton Hillis. He also drafted Tim Tebow for an offense he never got to develop. Breathe, Broncos fans. Breathe.
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