Charlie Weis or Josh McDaniels: Who Was Better?

Now I don't know if I am allowed to make a threat like this, but I'm going to go ahead anyway. IF ANYONE POSTS ANYTHING ABOUT TIM TEBOW I WILL FLAG EVERY POST YOU MAKE FOR THE REST OF YOUR ACCOUNT'S NATURAL LIFE!!! Now that that's over, time to get into this.

After Jack's Axe wished for more to talk about, I proposed that I would be willing to write a piece best I could if he gave me a subject. He didn't take me up on it (I don't blame him) but Brady's Revenge did. Below is his request.

I have one for you Dan if you are bored

How about comparing Josh vs. Charlie and their offensive schemes to see who was better or was a better fit? Just a thought.

by Brady's Revenge on Aug 8, 2013 | 3:20 AM up reply rec flag

Now I'm not "bored", but I am willing to take a stab at this. I want to preface this (again) by saying that I know very little about the schemes the Patriots run. Offensive systems, play-calling, etc., are all things that fly right over my head. I can watch a game and evaluate the potential plays coming from formations and shifts, but I definitely can't tell you what it is called. With that I turned to the most powerful ally I could, the internet! Hopefully the more educated among us can give more insight in the comments following my swing at this topic.

The first thing I did was try and learn about Charlie Weis' offense. Charlie Weis was the offensive coordinator from 2000-2004, a part of the Patriots during their worst and best seasons of the Bill Belichick era. In 2000, when Belichick took over and Drew Bledsoe was the quarterback, the Patriots struggled to a 5-11 record. Not only is it the worst record of the Belichick era, but it was the worst record the Patriots had since 1993. Here is what quarterback Drew Bledsoe had to say about Weis' offense in an article published by Ron Borges titled "Coming to terms with the system."

"With Ernie's offense every play called was designed to work against any defense you faced,'' Bledsoe said. "We didn't do a whole bunch of formations and personnel groupings because there were a lot of options within every play if it was run right.

"In Charlie's system we use a lot more groups, formations and motion, and the terminology is different. In Ernie's system, the formations had names and the pass routes had numbers. In Charlie's the formations have numbers and the routes have names. It can be confusing at first.

Wikipedia, that magical source full of general information, says this about the system the Patriots run.

The Patriots run a modified "Ron Erhardt - Ray Perkins" offensive system[1] installed by Charlie Weis under Bill Belichick.This system is noted for its multiple formation and personnel grouping variations on a core number of base plays. Under this system, each formation and each play are separately numbered. Additional word descriptions further modify each play

So that offense is still being used by the Patriots, despite Weis' departure and then the different reigns of Josh McDaniels and Bill O'Brien. If the offensive system has been similar, what really has been the difference all these years? We know that the offenses were different with Weis than they were with McDaniels. According to McDaniels earlier this offseason, the offense is different every year.

"Our offense has never been the same two years in a row, really. The system hopefully is broad enough that we can use the skills that our players have to the best of their ability. We’ve had to do it a lot of different ways over the course of time and whatever that way is [this year], we’re not real sure yet," McDaniels said. "It will develop over the course of the next month, and that will be continuing as the season progresses."

From this, at least for me and my limited knowledge, I will continue under the assumption that they did the best they could with what they had. Which offensive coordinator was most successful? I had to go digging into the numbers to figure that out.

To start, Charlie Weis was the offensive coordinator for 5 seasons, from 2000-2004. Josh McDaniels was the offensive coordinator for 4 seasons, from 2006-2008, and 2012. I went through and tracked all of the offensive touchdowns scored by the Patriots during those seasons. Every single defensive score and special teams score was taken out, leaving only what was accomplished by the offense and thus was a result of the coordinators. Below is a chart with a breakdown of offensive touchdowns scored, PATs (point after touchdowns) on those touchdowns, field goals made, and 2-point conversions. The last section is total points scored over the time span.

Charlie Weis Josh McDaniels
Regular Season Regular Season
Seasons (Games) 5 (80) 4 (64)
Touchdowns 176 214
PATs 161 207
FGM 133 102
2PT 5 6
Points 1626 1809
Points Per Game 20.325 28.266

From these numbers it clearly shows that the Patriots offense has been far more prolific under Josh McDaniels than it was with Charlie Weis. Is that increase in scoring because of Josh McDaniels or the result of rule changes benefiting passing as Tom Brady was coupled with much more dynamic passing threats? I would be more inclined to suggest the latter, but there are other things to dive into.

How did the Patriots offense perform during the tenure of both coordinators? Below is a chart showing the rankings of certain rushing statistics. After that another chart will show the rankings of certain passing statistics. Under "Rank" is where the Patriots finished that year compared to the rest of the league.

Year Attempts Rank Yards Rank Touchdowns Rank
Weis 2000 424 18th 1390 26th 9 25th
Weis 2001 473 T-8th 1793 13th 15 T-7th
Weis 2002 395 28th 1508 28th 9 T-26th
Weis 2003 473 12th 1607 27th 9 T-24th
Weis 2004 524 T-5th 2134 7th 15 9th
McDaniels 2006 499 6th 1969 12th 20 4th
McDaniels 2007 451 T-9th 1849 13th 17 T-5th
McDaniels 2008 513 4th 2278 6th 21 4th
McDaniels 2012 523 2nd 2184 7th 25 1st

Year Attempts Rank Yards Rank Touchdowns Rank Passer Rating Rank
Weis 2000 565 11th 3181 19th 18 21st 75.5 19th
Weis 2001 482 24th 3089 22nd 21 11th 85.3 5th
Weis 2002 605 4th 3577 12th 28 2nd 85.3 11th
Weis 2003 537 6th 3432 9th 23 T-11th 84.3 10th
Weis 2004 485 22nd 3588 11th 29 T-5th 92.5 8th
McDaniels 2006 527 12th 3400 12th 25 7th 88.3 7th
McDaniels 2007 586 5th 4731 1st 50 1st 116 1st
McDaniels 2008 534 12th 3569 12th 21 T-13th 89.1 7th
McDaniels 2012 641 4th 4662 4th 34 4th 97.7 7th

Not only do the Josh McDaniels offenses come out on top almost across the board in rushing and passing, but the Patriots play-calling under McDaniels isn't unbalanced like many perceive. Actually, the Josh McDaniels offenses actually had a very slight but better pass-rush ratio than the Weis offenses.

Weis McDaniels
Pass Attempts 2674 2288
Rush Attempts 2289 1986
Pass-Rush Ratio 1.168-1 1.152-1

The numbers so far have shown that McDaniels' offenses overall have been better than Weis'. But what about plays and drives? The numbers don't account for how many drives and plays each team was able to run in a given year. Below are the charts showing the drives each Patriots team had and the plays each one ran. Accompanying the plays are the rank in the league as well.

# of Drives Plays Rank
2000 196 1037 10th
2001 186 1001 18th
2002 187 1031 16th
2003 206 1042 6th
2004 180 1035 6th
2006 190 1055 4th
2007 170 1058 2nd
2008 175 1095 1st
2012 190 1191 1st

Even though the Patriots played at a blistering pace in 2012, running 96 plays more than the next closest Patriots team (2008), they still only had as many drives as the 2006 squad, a team that most would not look at as an offensive juggernaut. Even though every single Patriots team under Josh McDaniels ran more plays on offense than under Charlie Weis, they did not do so because they had more drives. Since drives are opportunities the offense has to run plays, score, etc., they are a good qualifier for measuring offensive success. Below is a chart showing the total amount of plays, drives, and the plays per drive for the Patriots under Charlie Weis and Josh McDaniels.

Charlie Weis Josh McDaniels
Total Plays 5146 4399
Total Drives 955 725
Plays Per Drive 5.388 6.068

Given the higher number of plays per drive, it would be my best guess that the Patriots had more successful drives when Josh McDaniels was the offensive coordinator. This would also agree with the fact that McDaniels offenses scored more points and were better at running and passing the football as well.

Now when doing all this research I wanted to address the playoff success. The Patriots won 3 Super Bowls with Charlie Weis, and many have pointed to struggles by the offense in the losses they have suffered with Josh McDaniels. The same breakdown I did with the first chart in this piece I did with the playoffs. Below are my findings.

Charlie Weis Josh McDaniels
Playoffs Playoffs
Seasons (Games) 3 (9) 3 (8)
Touchdowns 19 23
PATs 18 22
FGM 18 13
2PT 1 1
Points 188 201
Points Per Game 20.889 25.125

While the Charlie Weis offense actually scored more points per game on offense in the playoffs than the regular season (20.9 to 20.3), the Josh McDaniel offense scored more points per game in the playoffs than the Weis offense. The fact that the Patriots score about 3 points less per game from their offense under McDaniels in the playoffs than in the regular season doesn't change that they score 5 points per game more under McDaniels than under Weis.

Based on this information, it would appear that Josh McDaniels was better from a production standpoint. I don't feel comfortable saying that McDaniels is better than Weis, because Weis was a part of 3 Super Bowl victories, and the win is ultimately most important, no matter how it gets done. I'll let you all be the judge.

So that's the best I could do on the subject. This isn't my area of expertise, so hopefully it was easy to understand with what I could give you all. If you have any requests for something else, please feel free to ask. Hopefully smarter people than me will be able to give some useful information in the comments below.

The views expressed in these FanPosts are not necessarily those of the writers or SBNation.

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