Can NFL Teams Make Playoff Runs After Replacing Coordinator Mid-Season?

Can NFL Teams Make Playoff Runs After Replacing Coordinator Mid-Season?
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Odds of less than 2% are certainly not all that good, but that’s a key number Buffalo fans are looking at in rooting for the Bills to reach the AFC Championship game, at least in light of a change in offensive coordinators.

The Bills, struggling at 5-5 in the AFC East after being one of the preseason favorites to make and even win the Super Bowl, just fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey. The new play-caller in Buffalo is quarterbacks coach Joe Brady.

Armed with highly regarded quarterback Josh Allen, the Bills were expected to be an offensive powerhouse this season. Instead, in losing four of their last six games, they have averaged just over 20 points a game. Their most recent defeat was 24-22 to Denver at home with Allen passing for just 177 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran for a TD.

Later, Bills head coach Sean McDermott said of firing Dorsey, “There's been times when we have moved the ball and scored points, but those times, I believe, have become few and far between. I can point to the Miami game [in Week 4], which I felt very good about, obviously, we scored on just about, if not every, drive there. But since that Miami game (a 48-20 Bills win), and really, before that, there were some times when I didn't feel like we were moving the ball well enough and scoring points.”

So, with the change in offensive coordinators, can Bills fans be more optimistic about their team’s Super Bowl chances? NYCasinos.com, your home to future online New York casinos, took a historical look at how teams have fared that have made mid-season changes at OC.

2012 Ravens Under Cameron, Caldwell

Coordinator No. of Games Points Per Game Passing Yds Per GameRushing Yds Per GameAverage 3rd Down Conversions Per Game
Cam Cameron 13 25.5 points235.5 yds108.8 yds4.8 conversions
Jim Caldwell 7 (including playoffs) 26.7 points250.6 yds148.4 yds6.0 conversions
Difference +1.2 points+15.1 yds+39.8 yds+1.2 conversions

Research showed that out of the 52 teams that have made the Conference Championship since 2010, only one of the teams (1.9%) had switched a coordinator mid-season. That team was the 2012 Baltimore Ravens, when Jim Caldwell was elevated in early December from quarterbacks coach to take over the OC duties following Cam Cameron. Baltimore went on to win Super Bowl XLVII against San Francisco.

In Caldwell’s seven games as offensive coordinator that season (regular season and playoffs), the Ravens improved on offense across the board. During the playoff run with Caldwell as OC,  Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco had an extraordinary four games with 1,140 passing yards, 11 touchdown passes, zero interceptions, and was named the Super Bowl MVP. Buffalo can only hope for a similar offensive resurgence with Brady as OC.

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Author

Bill Ordine, senior journalist and columnist for NYCasinos.com, was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years. He covered the World Series of Poker for a decade and his articles on gaming have appeared in many major U.S. newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald and others.