What Chan Gailey Means for New York

What Chan Gailey Means for New York

By TJ Hernandez (Associate Editor), last update May 9, 2016

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TJ is a former full-time poker player who has been playing fantasy football for more than a decade. After online poker was outlawed, TJ ended his poker career and dedicated himself to fantasy football. His background in poker statistics and analytics translates to success in both daily and season-long fantasy football.

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I've dedicated most of my summer to examining the history of offensive play callers on new teams in 2015. You can follow all of the analysis here.

Put into proper context, understanding coaching tendencies can bring truth to some false narratives that may surround offensive play callers. With the wealth of fantasy football information available today, pushing small edges, such as interpreting coaching changes, will lead to an advantage in any league.

The series continues with a look at new Jets offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey. Gailey takes over an offense that has ranked in the top six in the league in rushing attempts in five of the last six years, but is now under a new coaching regime. Pairing Brandon Marshall with Eric Decker gives New York one of the better wide receiver duos in the league, and a crowded backfield means Chan Gailey can take this offense in many directions. Much of the Jets offense will be predicated on who wins the quarterback battle between Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick, and whether or not the winner can consistently provide competent quarterback play.

 

A Snapshot of Gailey's History 

Overall Rankings
Year Total Yards Points Scored
1996 15 11
1997 6 7
1998 8 9
1999 16 11
2000 26 16
2001 21 8
2008 24 26
2010 25 28
2011 14 14
2012 19 21
Rushing Rankings
Year Att Yds TD
1996 2 2 3
1997 1 1 3
1998 6 8 2
1999 6 6 5
2000 8 14 7
2001 8 23 9
2008 29 16 28
2010 25 18 32
2011 27 13 16
2012 13 6 13
Passing Rankings
Year Att Yds TD
1996 30 27 24
1997 26 23 9
1998 26 9 20
1999 26 24 17
2000 31 27 24
2001 29 19 12
2008 9 20 8
2010 19 24 17
2011 10 15 10
2012 23 25 13

Chan Gailey has spent 12 years in the NFL as an offensive coordinator or head coach, but in 1989 and 1990 he doubled as the wide receivers coach for Denver and deferred to offensive-minded head coach Dan Reeves. In all of his other seasons as an OC, Gailey led the offenses under defensive head coaches and was the main play caller. 

His 10 year history as a play caller has seen mixed results when it comes to moving the ball and scoring, but the most glaring trend is how his early emphasis on the run has evolved into a more pass-heavy offensive approach. In his first six seasons as a play caller, Gailey's offenses ranked in the top 10 in rushing attempts every season and never ranked higher than 26th in pass attempts. Over his last four seasons as a play caller, though, Gailey has overseen two offenses that ranked in the top 10 in pass attempts and just one unit that finished in the top half of the league in rushing attempts.

Deconstructing Chan Gailey's play calling history and player usage will lend some insight into whether his change in offensive philosophy has been a function of personnel, the overall success of his teams, a coach that has evolved with the game or some combination of the three.

Positional Breakdown

Quarterbacks

QB Per Game Averages

Completions Attempts Yards TD Int FP/G
17.5 30.1 202.7 1.25 1.0 14.2
QB Per Game Averages, By Season
Year Completions Attempts Yards TD Int FP/G
1996 13.9 25.1 172.9 0.94 1.1 11.3
1997 14.8 27.5 188.8 1.31 1.1 20.7
1998 17.4 29.6 221.0 1.06 0.5 16.1
1999 18.4 31.6 204.9 1.25 0.8 14.9
2000 15.2 26.3 170.0 0.94 1.1 10.2
2001 17.1 28.1 205.6 1.25 1.2 13.9
2008 18.8 33.1 202.3 1.25 1.0 14.3
2010 18.4 32.3 209.2 1.50 1.3 13.7
2011 22.1 35.6 239.5 1.50 1.4 13.7
2012 19.1 31.6 212.5 1.50 1.0 13.4

Under Chan Gailey, quarterbacks have averaged 14.2 fantasy points per game. The QB12 in 2014 posted 17.3 FP/G, a total that only Kordell Stewart (1997) has surpassed with Gailey calling the plays, and that season was aided largely by Stewart's success on the ground. Even in 2008 and 2011, when Gailey's offenses were top 10 in both passing attempts and passing touchdowns, his quarterbacks averaged just 14.3 and 13.7 FP/G, respectively.

Unless a coach is blessed with superior talent at quarterback, it seems virtually impossible for a play caller to consistently manufacture a fantasy QB1, regardless of volume. As CD Carter likes to argue, efficiency over volume. As has been the case in many of these coaching analyses, probably the most useful application of Gailey's history is to focus on ball distribution to the skill positions. 

 

Running Backs

RB1 Per Game Averages
Touches Receptions Total Yards PPR FP
20.7 1.9 95.2 15.2
RB1 Per Game Averages, By Season
Year Touches Rec Total Yards PPR FP
1996 21.4 1.4 97.1 15.2
1997 26.0 1.0 118.3 16.4
1998 21.6 1.7 94.2 16.7
1999 23.7 1.8 101.1 17.1
2000 22.7 2.1 89.3 17.0
2001 21.4 1.9 75.1 11.8
2008 17.5 1.4 73.8 11.2
2010 15.8 1.9 71.4 11.5
2011 21.6 3.9 137.6 20.9
2012 15.6 2.7 106.4 16.0

The averages here show a lead running back that has averaged RB1 PPR numbers in a Chan Gailey offense, but the mean is somewhat skewed by an early coaching career with clear number one backs including Jerome Bettis, Emmitt Smith and even Lamar Smith in Miami. With solid running back duos such as Larry Johnson and Jamaal Charles in Kansas City and Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller in Buffalo, Gailey has opted for more of a committee approach.

Three of Gailey's last four coaching stints produced two backs with 100+ touches, and in 2010 Spiller fell just two touches short of the 100 touch mark. In his first six seasons as a play caller, the lead back in Gailey's offense absorbed 70.5% of all backfield touches. Since then, the back with the most touches under Chan Gailey has averaged just 56.3% of the total running back pie. Even while sharing touches, Gailey's main back has averaged 14.9 PPR FP/G over his last four seasons, and two of those seasons resulted in an RB1 finish in terms of FP/G.

 

Wide Receivers 

WR1 Per Game Averages
Receptions Rec Yards Rec TD PPR FPs
4.7 62.1 0.39 13.3
WR1 Per Game Averages, By Season
Year Name Receptions Rec Yards Rec TD PPR FP
1996 Andre Hastings 4.5 46.2 0.38 11.8
1997 Yancey Thigpen 4.9 43.7 0.15 8.8
1998 Michael Irvin 4.6 66.1 0.06 11.6
1999 Rocket Ismail 5.0 68.6 0.38 15.2
2000 Oronde Gadsden 3.5 49.1 0.38 10.7
2001 James McKnight 3.4 42.8 0.19 8.7
2008 Tony Gonzalez 6.0 66.1 0.63 16.4
2010 Stevie Johnson 5.1 67.1 0.63 15.5
2011 Stevie Johnson 4.8 62.8 0.44 13.7
2012 Stevie Johnson 4.9 65.4 0.38 13.6

WR2 Per Game Averages

Receptions Rec Yards Rec TD PPR FPs
3.4 44.2 0.30 9.3
WR2 Per Game Averages, By Season
Year Name Receptions Rec Yards Rec TD PPR FP
1996 Charles Johnson 3.8 63.0 0.19 11.2
1997 Charles Johnson 3.5 43.7 0.15 8.8
1998 Billy Davis 2.4 43.2 0.19 8.0
1999 David LaFleur 2.2 20.1 0.44 4.5
2000 Leslie Shepherd 2.7 34.3 0.31 8.0
2001 Oronde Gadsden 3.9 48.1 0.21 9.9
2008 Dwayne Bowe 5.4 63.9 0.44 14.3
2010 Lee Evans 2.8 44.5 0.31 9.0
2011 David Nelson 3.8 41.1 0.31 9.8
2012 Donald Jones 3.4 36.9 0.33 9.1

Over his career as a play caller, Chan Gailey's primary pass catcher has averaged 13.3 PPR FP/G, or what would have been WR27 numbers in 2014. If we look at his recent history, that number jumps to 14.8 PPR FP/G since 2008, which would have ranked as the WR18 last season.

Just like with the primary target, the second pass catcher in Gailey's offense has seen a boost since Gailey became more pass heavy. Overall, the second receiving option has averaged 9.3 PPR FP/G with Chan Gailey calling plays. From 1996-2001, Gailey's second receiver averaged 8.4 FP/G, but since 2008 the average rises to 10.5 FP/G.

One interesting note is the touchdown distribution among Chan Gailey's pass catchers. The secondary option under Gaily has scored almost as many touchdowns per game as the primary target, but in a more efficient manner, scoring on 8.9% of receptions, compared to 8.3% for the main receiver.

The tight end has been somewhat of an afterthought for Chan Gailey. Only two tight ends have caught more than 40 balls with Gailey calling plays, with Tony Gonzalez the only player to finish as a TE1 under Gailey.

What This Means for 2015

Regardless of the reason, Chan Gailey has proven through his play calling strategies that he is a coach capable of adapting to his roster and the state of the league. In his first six seasons as a play caller, the combination of clear number one backs and overall game flow (only one team in Gailey's first six years won less than 10 games) led to a very run-heavy approach. Gailey's recent coaching history has consisted of crowded backfields with pass catching backs and teams that have been playing from behind a lot (none of Gailey's last four teams have won more than six games), resulting in more pass-heavy offenses.

New York has a crowded, but unexciting, backfield, and it seems as though the job is Chris Ivory's to lose, as Ivory boasts a career 4.7 yards per carry (YPC) average. Stevan Ridley is the only other running back on the team with a career YPC over 4, at 4.3, but his averaged has dropped every season since his rookie year, and he posted just 3.6 YPC in six games with New England last year. Ivory's biggest weakness is in the receiving game, catching just 23 balls in 55 career games, so Gailey may very well implement a third down or passing situation specialist. Zac Stacy has been the most proficient pass catcher of the New York backs, averaging 1.6 receptions per game over his two year career.

Even if Chris Ivory emerges as the starter and has to share touches, Chan Gailey's recent lead backs in a committee have averaged 17.6 touches per game, which would have ranked 11th in 2014, and 14.9 PPR FP/G, or RB13 last season. Despite his inadequate hands, Chris Ivory has potential to put up solid RB2 numbers in a Chan Gailey system.

Maybe the most exciting and perplexing piece to the Jets puzzle is how Chan Gailey will divvy up targets between Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. The recent spike in receiver production under Chan Gailey, and the somewhat even touchdown distribution among his top two targets is encouraging. Since 2008, Chan Gailey's primary target has accounted for 26.8% of all team receptions, a market share bested by only six wide receivers last season. In that time, his second wide receiver caught 18.2% of team receptions, or the 29th best receiver percentage in 2014.

Gailey's most comparable situation was 2008 in Kansas City. There, the Chiefs started three different quarterbacks, used rookie Jamaal Charles to spell an aging Larry Johnson in many passing situations, and had essentially two number one wide receivers in Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe. That season Gonzalez and Bowe accounted for 32% and 28.7% of the teams receptions, respectively. Both pass catchers finished with over 85 receptions for 1000+ yards. Gonzalez posted 16.4 PPR FP/G and Bowe was just behind with 14.3 FP/G, both which would have finished as top 20 numbers in 2014.

Despite the quarterback situation, given their talent and the lack of receiving depth, Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall are in a situation to both post top 24 PPR numbers, a feat that has been accomplished by 14 wide receiver duos in the last three seasons. Probably not coincidentally, four of those top 24 duos included either Decker or Marshall.

Filed Under:
Preseason
,
2015

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