The recent growth of statistical analysis in fantasy football has been incredible to watch as numerous web sites dig into some pretty in-depth metrics for you to study when analyzing the performance of both NFL teams and their players. However, as pointed out in the Stats You Need to Know article, there are some of the pitfalls you can fall into when looking at year-to-year numbers. Things change at a rapid rate in the NFL. Not only is player movement abundant, but the revolving doors we’ve seen for head coaches and both offensive and defensive coordinators seem to be in a perpetual spin.

As a result, comparing performances between the different seasons can often be an exercise in futility. A running back who found success against a particular team one year cannot be guaranteed success the following season as, not only could the opposition change defensive coordinators and systems, but said running back’s team could have gone through its own changes as well. Or, that player could be on an entirely new team and thus play in a completely different system.

There’s that word again – system. We use it often. We may also refer to it as a scheme, but the fact remains that a team’s system probably has a greater impact on a player’s production than even that player’s level of talent. As explained in the Learn Each Team’s System article in the 30 Strategies section, you can take a running back with mediocre talent and watch him excel if the coach’s system caters to the player’s strengths. Conversely, you can take a highly-talented player, put him in a system that doesn’t necessarily feature his strengths and watch his overall production suffer.

That’s why we urge you to study each and every team’s system, both on offense and defense. From a seasonal fantasy standpoint, it will help you make the right selections on draft day. If you’re looking at the Fantasy Alarm Draft Book and see two players you like in the same tier, knowledge of the system in which they play can prove to be the deciding factor. From a DFS standpoint, you’ll have a much better idea as to which offenses match up better against a particular opponent and be able to construct your lineup accordingly.

That’s what makes what you are about to read, so valuable. This isn’t just some draft guide you toss aside once you’ve had your draft. You’re going to be able to refer back to this article throughout the season as it will help you with your weekly research. Like streaming team defenses? This will help. Trying to decide which free agent running back is a better pick-up off waivers? This will help. Trying to decide whether it’s worth paying up for Rob Gronkowski on Draft Kings in Week 5 or if you should bargain shop for a different tight end? Yes. This will help.

What you will find here is a complete breakdown of each team’s coaching system, on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Not only will you learn the different systems and tendencies of the coaches and coordinators, but you’ll also learn which players the system caters to the best. So bookmark this page for easy reference, strap yourself in and get comfortable. This just might be the most important ride you take this season.

A few notes before you dive into each team:

The numbers you will see for each head coach and offensive coordinator refer to where their unit ranked among all 32 teams each season in the various categories. Most are self-explanatory, but if you are unfamiliar with “pace,” it is exactly what you think it is – how long it takes for the team’s offensive unit to get to the line of scrimmage and snap the ball from play to play. Your more methodical offenses, the ones that focus on controlling the game (usually because they have a lead they want to maintain), are slower to get to the line and therefore have a higher rank for their game pace.

Also, the ranks are reserved for NFL head coaches and offensive coordinators as they are the primary play-callers. Individual position coaching experience is listed, but the teams’ ranks aren’t included as they are merely cogs in a much bigger machine.

Types of Offenses:

West Coast Offense – Derived by Bill Walsh, this system puts more of an emphasis on passing than running and is focused on short, horizontal passing routes to stretch out the defense and ultimately open things up for longer run plays and longer passes.

Air Coryell (a.k.a. Vertical or Timing Offense) – A combination of both deep and mid-range passing in conjunction with power running. The system uses a lot of motion and the passing is based on timing and rhythm with the quarterback actually throwing to a spot rather than to a specific player which helps to maximize yards gained after the catch.  

Erhardt-Perkins Offense – The original formula, which dates back to the 1970’s Patriots, focused on a run-first offense with a simplified, quarterback-friendly passing game. However, when Charlie Weis joined New England, he used it as a building block to develop a more modern version which maintains the run but now enhances the multiple passing options and possibilities within a given play.

Types of Defenses:

3-4 – Focus on size and length across the defensive line, inside linebackers ball-hawk, outside linebackers make plays as edge defenders and there is a heavy use of defensive backs to cover in the open field which helps disguise the blitz better.

4-3 – With four lineman and only three linebackers, the defenders are each responsible for covering a gap during a run and will usually set up with a closed formation on the opposing tight end. Pre-game prep and opposing personnel will determine which side the line will close if facing a two-tight end set-up.

Cover-2 – a two-deep, five under zone defense used to take away vertical concepts while forcing the ball underneath to the flat or check-down option.

Cover-3 – a three-deep, four-under zone defense where both cornerbacks drop to the outside zones with the free-safety playing the deep middle.

Arizona Cardinals

Head Coach Bruce Arians 5th year
Offensive Coordinator Harold Goodwin 5th year
Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher 3rd year
Offensive System Air Coryell  

 

Bruce Arians -- Head Coach       Harold Goodwin -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 24 2 6   Points 24 2 6
Pace 19 25 7   Pace 24 25 7
Pass Attempts 15 19 3   Pass Attempts 15 19 3
Passing Yards 14 2 9   Passing Yards 14 2 9
Rushing Attempts 24 9 21   Rushing Attempts 24 9 21
Rushing Yards 31 8 18   Rushing Yards 31 8 18

Offense Breakdown: Head coach Bruce Arians calls the plays, but actually utilizes assistant head coach and long-time NFL offensive coordinator Tom Moore to run the passing game. Current offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin spends most of his time with the offensive line and focused on the zone-blocking scheme the Cardinals use for the run. As evidenced by the number of pass plays called last season, it’s obvious that Arians and Moore like to keep the ball in the quarterback’s hands, but with the way Carson Palmer struggled with turnovers, we should probably see a little pull-back this season. Palmer’s age, indecisiveness and lack of quickness don’t really play here which makes it even more mind-boggling that the Cardinals failed to bring in a better back-up.

Players Who Best Fit the System: David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown

Defensive System: 3-4

Defense Breakdown – Cardinals DC James Bettcher likes to be aggressive and put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. This helps with the takeaways which is obviously good for team-defense use in fantasy, however, the aggressiveness also leaves them wide open for big plays and the potential to give up a lot of points and yardage.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Chandler Jones, Josh Mauro, Haason Reddick, Tyrann Mathieu

Atlanta Falcons

Head Coach Dan Quinn 3rd year
Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian 1st year
Defensive Coordinator Marquand Manuel 1st year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Dan Quinn -- Head Coach       Steve Sarkisian -- OC    
Category 2014 (SEA) 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points DC 21 1   Points USC HC USC HC ALA OC
Pace DC 20 23   Pace USC HC USC HC ALA OC
Pass Attempts DC 8 26   Pass Attempts USC HC USC HC ALA OC
Passing Yards DC 6 3   Passing Yards USC HC USC HC ALA OC
Rushing Attempts DC 16 12   Rushing Attempts USC HC USC HC ALA OC
Rushing Yards DC 18 5   Rushing Yards USC HC USC HC ALA OC

Offense Breakdown: Dan Quinn is a defensive-minded coach and likes to leave the offense in the hands of his coordinator, but one of his focuses in replacing Kyle Shanahan was finding someone who wouldn’t dramatically change the scheme which was so successful last season. At least that was the goal. Steve Sarkisian found tremendous success at the collegiate level and will employ much of what Shanahan established, but he will obviously put his own spin on the offense. Last year’s use of a zone-blocking scheme will remain for the most part, but you can expect the new OC to blend in some man-blocking set-ups as well. It should be interesting to see how that affects the ground attack as Devonta Freeman has thrived more in zone-blocking given the way he likes to make the cut-backs and take it to the outside. Tevin Coleman may find more success in the man-blocking set-up.

Sarkisian also likes to use a hurry-up offense and a lot of shotgun formations, so while that may help boost the passing attack, the ground game could suffer a little bit as running out of the shotgun obviously pushes the hand-off much further behind the line of scrimmage. While Quinn will leave his coordinator to do his thing, it will be interesting to see how things shake out over the first few weeks. If the offense is struggling, we could see a rift develop between the coaches and we could see Quinn try and take a more active role in the play-calling.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Austin Hooper

Defensive System: 4-3 with a Cover-3 zone

Defense Breakdown: After last season’s defensive collapse in the Super Bowl, Quinn replaced Richard Smith with DB coach Marquand Manuel who has been with him since their time in Seattle. While Marquand is expected to run a similar system to what Smith used, you can expect some changes from Quinn who is going to be more heavily involved with the defensive play-calling right from the onset.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Desmond Trufant, Brian Poole, Vic Beasley

Baltimore Ravens

Head Coach John Harbaugh 10th year
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg 2nd year
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees 6th year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

 

John Harbaugh -- Head Coach       Marty Mornhinweg -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 (NYJ) 2015 2016
Points 8 25 21   Points 28 QB COACH 21
Pace 13 6 5   Pace 13 QB COACH 5
Pass Attempts 17 1 1   Pass Attempts 27 QB COACH 1
Passing Yards 13 8 12   Passing Yards 32 QB COACH 12
Rushing Attempts 11 26 30   Rushing Attempts 4 QB COACH 30
Rushing Yards 8 26 28   Rushing Yards 3 QB COACH 28

Offense Breakdown: While new OC Marty Mornhinweg is considered a west coast offense proponent, he tilts much more in favor of run-heavy play-calling. The Ravens will employ a mix of both zone and man-blocking schemes, however, you can probably expect a lot more work between the tackles for Terrance West while Danny Woodhead focuses on the check-downs to the outside. Given the nature of Joe Flacco’s back injury and the lack of a strong-armed back-up, Mornhinweg’s rather conservative style probably suits the offensive unit, as a whole, a little better. Unfortunately, the fantasy world doesn’t exactly jibe well with the smashmouth run-heavy, so it’s going to be tough to garner much in the way of value here. The system is designed to open up more downfield throws, but until Flacco is back at full-health, we may see more of a shortened up attack with Jeremy Maclin serving as the primary target.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Terrance West, Jeremy Maclin

Defensive System: 3-4

Defense Breakdown: Dean Pees enters his sixth season with the Ravens and will continue to be as aggressive as always. He’s all about forcing the turnovers which works well for fantasy team defenses, but it also leads to the defensive backs taking more chances to jump the routes and go for the interception. That, obviously, leaves them more vulnerable to big plays, especially when they face some of the faster, more elite wideouts.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle

Buffalo Bills

Head Coach Sean McDermott 1st year
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison 1st year
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier 1st year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Sean McDermott -- Head Coach       Rick Dennison -- OC    
Category 2014 (CAR) 2015 (CAR) 2016 (CAR)   Category 2014 (BAL) 2015 (DEN) 2016 (DEN)
Points DC DC DC   Points QB COACH 19 22
Pace DC DC DC   Pace QB COACH 11 6
Pass Attempts DC DC DC   Pass Attempts QB COACH 13 17
Passing Yards DC DC DC   Passing Yards QB COACH 14 21
Rushing Attempts DC DC DC   Rushing Attempts QB COACH 17 15
Rushing Yards DC DC DC   Rushing Yards QB COACH 17 27

Offense Breakdown: After cleaning house in the off-season, the Bills went with another defensive-minded coach in Sean McDermott, but complemented him with former Broncos OC Rick Dennison who will employ a west coast offense with a heavy focus on the running game. They’ll go with a zone-blocking scheme which definitely favors LeSean McCoy and his running style. He is also expected to be heavily used in the passing game as well. The run-heavy game plan, mixed with plenty of motion to keep the defense on its heels should open up the passing attack a little more, though it will also serve as a major benefit to Tyrod Taylor who likes to run it himself as well. With continuous questions regarding the health of Sammy Watkins, the team brought in veteran wideout Anquan Boldin who may not be able to stretch the field like he used to, but should serve as a reliable outlet across the middle.  

Players Who Best Fit the System: Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy

Defensive System: 4-3 with a Cover-2

Defense Breakdown: Player-favorite Leslie Frazier will take control of an already stout defense and he will have Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus taking care of business and stuffing the run up the middle. The team also brought in Micah Hyde and drafted Tre’Davious White to help bolster the secondary, though the Cover-2 scheme is a little archaic and can be easily picked apart by the right quarterback. Stopping the run will be the priority here, but should Williams and/or Dareus falter, things could get a little ugly without a lot of speed in the secondary.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Micah Hyde

Carolina Panthers

Head Coach Ron Rivera 7th year
Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula 5th year
Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks 1st year
Offensive System Erhardt-Perkins Offense  

 

Ron Rivera -- Head Coach       Mike Shula -- OC      
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 19 1 15   Points 19 1 15
Pace 23 19 32   Pace 23 19 32
Pass Attempts 19 27 20   Pass Attempts 19 27 20
Passing Yards 19 24 21   Passing Yards 19 24 21
Rushing Attempts 8 1 7   Rushing Attempts 8 1 7
Rushing Yards 7 2 10   Rushing Yards 7 2 10

Offense Breakdown: Head coach Ron Rivera and OC Mike Shula have always relied on a run-heavy system which utilizes play-action to open things up downfield, but things could be tilting in a different direction this year based on some recent things. Cam Newton has taken some serious hits over the last few years, he’s still dealing with a shoulder issue and, as we saw last year, Shula has been less-inclined to allow his quarterback and/or fullback to poach all that red zone work inside the five-yard line. Fantasy owners may be hoping for a return to that 2015 form, but take everything that was just said and add Christian McCaffrey to the mix. Suddenly, the team has the personnel to do more things which could cater more to Newton’s strengths. More short passes and more read-options could be in play as Newton can easily pitch the ball to McCaffrey, use him as a check-down or take off running himself. That seems to be the ideal, especially with a somewhat questionable receiving corps and an aging Greg Olsen. For now, there’s no word on the potential change which means this offense could be bland chicken again and Newton’s fantasy value will suffer, but there’s at least some promise.

Players Who Best Fit the System (as it is now): Jonathan Stewart, Greg Olsen, Kelvin Benjamin

Players Who Best Fit the System (if Shula adjusts): Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, Greg Olsen

Defensive System: 4-3 base with different coverage schemes

Defense Breakdown: The Panthers are looking to put 2016 behind them as injuries and the loss of Josh Norman really did them in. Steve Wilks, who has been fantastic in developing safeties and cornerbacks, takes over as the defensive coordinator and gets a little boost with the return of Captain Munnerlyn. James Bradberry had a respectable rookie year and should be able to solidify the other corner which already puts the Panthers in a better spot than last year. Full health for Luke Kuechly is also imperative to their success.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Captain Munnerlyn, James Bradberry, Luke Kuechly

Chicago Bears

Head Coach John Fox 3rd year
Offensive Coordinator Dowell Loggins 2nd year
Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio 3rd year
Offensive System Erhardt-Perkins Offense  

 

John Fox -- Head Coach       Dowell Loggains -- OC    
Category 2014 (DEN) 2015 2016   Category 2014 (CLE) 2015 2016
Points 2 23 28   Points QB COACH QB COACH 28
Pace 10 21 12   Pace QB COACH QB COACH 12
Pass Attempts 9 25 22   Pass Attempts QB COACH QB COACH 22
Passing Yards 4 23 14   Passing Yards QB COACH QB COACH 14
Rushing Attempts 12 6 25   Rushing Attempts QB COACH QB COACH 25
Rushing Yards 15 11 17   Rushing Yards QB COACH QB COACH 17

Offense Breakdown: We already know the quarterback situation is potentially a disaster, but fortunately, this offense is run-first. The Bears offensive line is strong and with a zone-blocking scheme in place, Jordan Howard has the potential to be a beast this season. That would certainly take some of the pressure off Mike Glennon to start and, eventually, Mitch Trubisky. That would also help open up the passing attack where Cameron Meredith is expected to take center stage. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains doesn’t exactly have the best track record, but if Glennon can just be serviceable early and limit the mistakes, the Bears could be a surprise to many, at least on the offensive front.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Jordan Howard, Cameron Meredith

Defensive System: 3-4 (hybrid) with Cover-2

Defense Breakdown: Not only is John Fox a strong, defensive-minded coach, but Vic Fangio also happens to be one of the best when it comes to 3-4 schemes. He does a very good job disguising coverage and the addition of both Prince Amukamara and Quinton Demps should help solidify the secondary. There’s good size and speed in the linebackers, but health is going to play a major factor in getting these guys going this season.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Danny Trevathan, Quintin Demps, Prince Amukamara

Cincinnati Bengals

Head Coach Marvin Lewis 15th year
Offensive Coordinator Ken Zampese 2nd year
Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther 4th year
Offensive System Air Coryell  

 

Marvin Lewis -- Head Coach       Ken Zampese -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 15 7 24   Points QB COACH QB COACH 24
Pace 18 29 8   Pace QB COACH QB COACH 8
Pass Attempts 25 26 20   Pass Attempts QB COACH QB COACH 20
Passing Yards 21 15 15   Passing Yards QB COACH QB COACH 15
Rushing Attempts 5 7 9   Rushing Attempts QB COACH QB COACH 9
Rushing Yards 6 13 13   Rushing Yards QB COACH QB COACH 13

Offense Breakdown: In truth, a discussion about the Bengals offensive scheme may not be necessary given the state of this offensive line. They lost two huge pieces in Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler and didn’t really do anything to address the need in the offseason. Offensive coordinator Ken Zampese installed a strong passing attack last season which relied heavily on well-timed throws, but he’s still going to need a strong ground game to lend the support Andy Dalton needs. They drafted Joe Mixon and while he’s tabbed to eventually take over the backfield, it sounds like Jeremy Hill will get the starting nod. Giovani Bernard, if healthy, will help with the pass-blocking, but again, this could all be a moot point. In fact, given the defensive issues we’ll get to in a moment, this could look very much like the 2015 Jaguars offense which dazzled fantasy owners with garbage-time plays.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Andy Dalton, A.J. Green

Defensive System: 4-3

Defense Breakdown: It’s an old-fashioned 4-3 system which, because of Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, does well against the run, but Paul Guenther uses a zone coverage system in the secondary that is very beatable by a spread offense. This defense just doesn’t look strong and its lack of quality depth is likely to come back and bite them in the ass.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap

Cleveland Browns

Head Coach Hue Jackson 2nd year
Offensive Coordinator none  
Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams 1st year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Hue Jackson -- Head Coach       Al Saunders - Sr. Off. Asst.    
Category 2014 (CIN OC) 2015 (CIN OC) 2016   Category 2014 (OAK) 2015 (MIA) 2016
Points 15 7 31   Points 31 27 31
Pace 18 29 9   Pace 32 26 9
Pass Attempts 25 26 18   Pass Attempts 4 17 18
Passing Yards 21 15 28   Passing Yards 26 19 28
Rushing Attempts 5 7 31   Rushing Attempts 32 32 31
Rushing Yards 6 13 19   Rushing Yards 32 23 19

Offense Breakdown: Hue Jackson will continue to serve as both head coach and offensive coordinator, but keep in mind he also has special offensive assistant Al Saunders who is most notable for his work with the Rams during their Greatest Show on Turf era. Jackson loves to run the ball and though his and Sanders’ version of the west coast offense leans heavily on the short-passing game and timing routes, the addition of center J.C. Tretter and guard Kevin Zeitler is going to give him a much greater chance to employ the power-running he covets. The Browns will use a zone-blocking scheme which should help the Browns dominate the line of scrimmage and give Isaiah Crowell plenty of opportunity for some potential big runs. They’re also planning on using Duke Johnson out of the slot more which will only confound things for opposing defenses. Now if they only had a quarterback. Rumor has it that DeShone Kizer will be under center for Week 1, but there’s still plenty of preseason to go.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson

Defensive System: 4-3 with Cover-2

Defense Breakdown: The well-traveled Gregg Williams makes his Cleveland debut this season after spending time with the Rams, Titans, Saints, Jaguars and Redskins. He’s all about being aggressive, forcing turnovers and lots of quarterback pressure, so with the likes of rookie upstart Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah on the line and Jamie Collins as the weakside linebacker, we should see a lot of blitzing and a strong sack total. Of course, the Cover-2 system is crazy vulnerable and while Joe Haden and Jason McCourty patrol the outside, the middle of the secondary is going to cause some big-play problems.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Emmanuel Ogbah, Myles Garrett, Jamie Colins

Dallas Cowboys

Head Coach Jason Garrett 7th year
Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan 4th year
Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli 4th year
Offensive System Air Coryell  

 

Jason Garrett -- Head Coach       Scott Linehan -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 5 31 5   Points 5 31 5
Pace 32 32 31   Pace 32 32 31
Pass Attempts 31 23 30   Pass Attempts 31 23 30
Passing Yards 16 27 23   Passing Yards 16 27 23
Rushing Attempts 3 18 1   Rushing Attempts 3 18 1
Rushing Yards 2 19 2   Rushing Yards 2 19 2

Offense Breakdown: While so many coaches like to throw in their own nuances to these base offensive systems, Scott Linehan took the old-school approach to the Air Coryell system. He focused primarily on spreading out the defense with three and four-wideout sets and then just gave Ezekiel Elliott the ball to run straight downhill. Easy peasy. He had to do it actually, as he needed to simplify things for Dak Prescott when he took over for Tony Romo. Not that Dak needed the system dumbed-down. It just made things easier and, well, the results speak for themselves.

Things are likely to change a little this season, though as the Cowboys are going to have to do some things to keep the defenses honest and on their toes. They’ll probably open the playbook a little more for Prescott while incorporating more motion for different looks and increased play-action. They also lost two key offensive linemen in Ronald Leary and Doug Free, so while you can’t downgrade the front five, you also can’t expect them to offer the same amount of protection should defenses look to stack the box against Zeke.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant

Defensive System: 4-3

Defense Breakdown: Hard to argue with anything Rod Marinelli does with his defense, so when he asked for more help this offseason, the Cowboys did just that. They drafted three defensive linemen, including first-round pick Taco Charlton and also grabbed a pair of cornerbacks in the second and third rounds. Marinelli likes to stuff the run and put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, so he’s all about depth on the line and will rotate in guys regularly to keep everyone fresh and well-rested. The gave up the fifth-fewest points last season and you can probably expect more of the same provided everyone stays healthy.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Sean Lee, Demarcus Lawrence

Denver Broncos

Head Coach Vance Joseph 1st year
Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy 1st year
Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods 1st year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Vance Joseph -- Head Coach       Mike McCoy -- OC    
Category 2014 (CIN) 2015 (CIN) 2016 (MIA)   Category 2014 (SD) 2015 (SD) 2016 (SD)
Points DB COACH DB COACH DC   Points 17 26 9
Pace DB COACH DB COACH DC   Pace 28 14 21
Pass Attempts DB COACH DB COACH DC   Pass Attempts 14 3 15
Passing Yards DB COACH DB COACH DC   Passing Yards 10 4 8
Rushing Attempts DB COACH DB COACH DC   Rushing Attempts 23 22 22
Rushing Yards DB COACH DB COACH DC   Rushing Yards 30 31 26

Offense Breakdown: Vance Joseph steps into his first head coaching job after spending 11 of his 12 years in the NFL as a defensive backs coach and is likely to be the defensive play-caller. Former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy will take the reins here and from everything I’ve been reading, it sounds like this team is in serious need of an identity. McCoy is expected to implement a west coast style offensive that focuses on short, high-percentage passes, but he’s also turned around and said he wants to build a system around his players’ strengths. Well that’s great, but we still don’t know if it will be Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch under center. We also don’t know how the backfield is going to shake out with C.J. Anderson, Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker. McCoy also said that he wants to go with a mix of both zone and power-blocking. Now sure, we could take a stab at guessing here, but perhaps it’s just best we re-visit further in to training camp. After all, who knows how long Charles will stay healthy or if Anderson can hold down the starting job or which receiver will be more heavily-favored by whoever the quarterback ends up being. Stay tuned for this one.

Players Who Best Fit the System (if heavy run with more zone blocking): C.J. Anderson

Players Who Best Fit the System (if more short passing and power blocking): Jamaal Charles, Emmanuel Sanders

Defensive System: 3-4

Defense Breakdown: Defensive coordinator Joe Woods, in conjunction with Joseph, will keep the 3-4 system former DC Wade Phillips implemented during his tenure. However, he is likely to use more man-to-man coverage instead of cover zones. Again, Joseph’s specialty is the defensive backs, so that shouldn’t be a huge concern. Of course, if the Broncos don’t have a strong pass-rush developing, the coverage is going to have trouble and we could see a lot of big-plays at their expense.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Von Miller, Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward

Detroit Lions

Head Coach Jim Caldwell 4th year
Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter 2nd year
Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin 3rd year
Offensive System Air Coryell  

 

Jim Caldwell -- Head Coach       Jim Bob Cooter -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 22 18 20   Points QB COACH QB COACH 20
Pace 20 24 27   Pace QB COACH QB COACH 27
Pass Attempts 11 4 11   Pass Attempts QB COACH QB COACH 11
Passing Yards 12 9 11   Passing Yards QB COACH QB COACH 11
Rushing Attempts 25 30 31   Rushing Attempts QB COACH QB COACH 31
Rushing Yards 28 32 30   Rushing Yards QB COACH QB COACH 30

Offense Breakdown: Jim Caldwell might have the big office, but this offense belongs to Jim Bob Cooter who likes to use the Air Coryell system and spread the defense for power running while also utilizing short, timing passes to grab some extra yardage after the catch. Cooter likes to rotate in a lot of different backs and receivers, so it may be tough at first to pinpoint who is going to see the steadiest dose of carries/targets. Last season, Marvin Jones was lighting it up for the first few games, while Golden Tate was nowhere to be found. Then around Week 6, it was Tate who was the primary target and Jones was nowhere to be found. Cooter is hoping Ameer Abdullah can stay healthy and offer up a better between-the-tackles runner than Zach Zenner, but it seems a little more likely that this scheme favors the use of Theo Riddick more.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Matthew Stafford, Theo Riddick, Golden Tate

Defensive System: 4-3

Defense Breakdown: Third-year Lions DC Teryl Austin is a former defensive backs coach and does a fantastic job developing young talent in the secondary. He’ll likely use a fair amount of man-coverage, especially if his pass-rush is strong. Austin usually assigns single-gap responsibilities to his lineman and then has his faster linebackers push through to stuff the run. The system held the opposition to the second fewest rushing touchdowns last season and they also gave up the 13th fewest number of points on the overall.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Darius Slay, Ziggy Ansah

Green Bay Packers

Head Coach Mike McCarthy 11th year
Offensive Coordinator Edgar Bennett 3rd year
Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers 9th year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Mike McCarthy -- Head Coach       Edgar Bennett -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 1 15 4   Points WR COACH 15 4
Pace 24 10 25   Pace WR COACH 10 25
Pass Attempts 20 18 5   Pass Attempts WR COACH 18 5
Passing Yards 8 25 7   Passing Yards WR COACH 25 7
Rushing Attempts 14 12 29   Rushing Attempts WR COACH 12 29
Rushing Yards 11 12 20   Rushing Yards WR COACH 12 20

Offense Breakdown: As expected, Mike McCarthy will resume the play-calling and roll with his west coast offense that relies heavily on short, high-percentage passes. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Aaron Rodgers obviously thrives in this system and while McCarthy would like to employ a more stable ground game, as evidenced by their draft this offseason, the array of receivers and having a pass-catching “back” in Ty Montgomery should keep things basically the same.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery

Defensive System: 3-4 with an array of multi-front looks

Defense Breakdown: We’ve got the same “if it ain’t broke” feeling here with Dom Capers running the defense, now entering his ninth season with the Packers. Capers is all about heavy blitz packages and a ton of quarterback pressure. He likes to mix up the looks on the defensive line and will even go down to a 2-5 scheme given the speed he’s got at the linebacker position. The one area he’s been lacking is at the outside corners and the Packers have given up a number of deep plays over the last few seasons. In fact, the Packers ranked just 28th on the outside last season according to Football Outsiders DVOA rankings. The team has been trying to address their corners in recent drafts, but when you’re scoring as many points as the Packers routinely do, you can keep the concerns to a relative minimum.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Clay Matthews, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Houston Texans

Head Coach Bill O'Brien 4th year
Offensive Coordinator none  
Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel 1st year
Offensive System Spread Offense  

 

Bill O'Brien -- Head Coach    
Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 14 22 28
Pace 14 3 13
Pass Attempts 30 10 14
Passing Yards 24 18 29
Rushing Attempts 1 5 6
Rushing Yards 5 15 8

Offense Breakdown: Did you know that Bill O’Brien is the best offensive coordinator in the NFL right now? Just ask him. He’ll happily tell you. O’Brien has parted ways with yet another OC and is anxious to take back the offensive play-calling for his spread offense. They’ll usually line up three or four wide using a variety of sets and send them out to different parts of the field to stretch the defense as much as possible which is supposed to help open up for bigger runs. Unfortunately, the offensive line is weak and Lamar Miller just isn’t that good, so there needs to be a little more focus on improving the pass attack as well. That will require a decent QB though, so you’ll just have to wait until mid-season when the Texans finally turn things over to Deshaun Watson

Players Who Best Fit the System: Lamar Miller (supposedly), D’Onta Foreman, DeAndre Hopkins

Defensive System: 3-4

Defense Breakdown: Romeo Crennel has been running the defense for some time now, but he’s officially turning over the reins to former linebackers coach and first-time DC Mike Vrabel. However, don’t expect the scheme to change as Vrabel will continue to institute Crennel’s game plan for the most part. Having the trio of J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney up front is always a nice, little bonus, so look for more man-to-man coverage in the secondary while Vrabel also works with the linebackers to help out in zone coverage.

Players Who Best Fit the System: J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney, Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson

Indianapolis Colts

Head Coach Chuck Pagano 6th year
Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski 2nd year
Defensive Coordinator Ted Monachino 2nd year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Chuck Pagano -- Head Coach       Rob Chudzinski -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 6 24 8   Points ASSC. HC 24 8
Pace 9 12 18   Pace ASSC. HC 12 18
Pass Attempts 1 9 13   Pass Attempts ASSC. HC 9 13
Passing Yards 1 22 5   Passing Yards ASSC. HC 22 5
Rushing Attempts 17 21 16   Rushing Attempts ASSC. HC 21 16
Rushing Yards 22 29 23   Rushing Yards ASSC. HC 29 23

Offense Breakdown: Rob Chudzinski likes to utilize the west coast offense that features a heavy dose of short, high-percentage passes rather than power rushing. He thrives off his analysis of the match-ups and likes to dominate them with the speed of his wide receivers while also throwing in a number of looks to the tight end. The big question now is what will happen should Andrew Luck not be ready to open the season on-time. Obviously the Colts can turn to the tandem of Frank Gore and Robert Turbin and lean a little heavier on them, but Chudzinski has pushed his chips all in on Luck, so losing him for any amount of time is going to hurt.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle

Defensive System: 3-4

Defense Breakdown: Having spent so much time as the Ravens linebackers coach, defensive coordinator Ted Monachino like to put a heavy emphasis on his linebacker corps in his scheme. He’s not afraid to move them around either as we’ve seen him line them up on the line of scrimmage as well as dropping back into coverage. He usually likes to use man-coverage in the secondary, so the addition of Malik Hooker and Quincy Wilson should certainly help on that front. The only problem with the man-coverage, at least until we get a real look at the youngsters, is that the Colts don’t have any real strong edge rushers which means they have to find another way to get at the quarterback. They do not want to leave their defensive backs out to dry.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Malik Hooker, Vontae Davis

Jacksonville Jaguars

Head Coach Doug Marrone 1st year
Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett 1st year
Defensive Coordinator Todd Wash 2nd year
Offensive System Air Coryell  

 

Doug Marrone -- Head Coach       Nathaniel Hackett -- OC    
Category 2014 (BUF) 2015 2016   Category 2014 (BUF) 2015 2016
Points 18 ASST. HC 25   Points 18 QB COACH 25
Pace 26 ASST. HC 2   Pace 26 QB COACH 2
Pass Attempts 13 ASST. HC 4   Pass Attempts 13 QB COACH 4
Passing Yards 18 ASST. HC 20   Passing Yards 18 QB COACH 20
Rushing Attempts 20 ASST. HC 24   Rushing Attempts 20 QB COACH 24
Rushing Yards 25 ASST. HC 22   Rushing Yards 25 QB COACH 22

Offense Breakdown: The tandem of Marrone and Hackett is back and just like when they were in Buffalo together, they will utilize the Air Coryell system that relies on a lot of motion, timing routes and some serious power running. We can expect to see a whole lot of Leonard Fournette, game in and game out while the use of timing patterns could potentially help limit the number of turnovers Blake Bortles is notorious for providing. All Bortles will have to do is hit a spot on the field and it’s up to the receiver to make sure he’s there in time. Should everything come together nicely we could see Hackett open up the passing game a little bit more and provide a more well-balance scheme. For now, though, Bortles needs to prove himself capable before that happens.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Leonard Fournette, Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson

Defensive System: 4-3 with a Cover-3

Defense Breakdown: The Jaguars were already loaded on defense and the addition of Calais Campbell to the defensive line makes the front four even more formidable. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash will stick with a 4-3 base, but has been known to mix things up as well. The linebackers have great speed and the team should fare extremely well against the tougher run offenses. The only issue they may have comes from sticking with the Cover-3 in the secondary. They young defensive backs struggled with the zone coverage last season, but Wash seems to think another year in the system should help. They also brought in strong safety Barry Church to help cover the front part of the middle zone, one of their bigger holes last season.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Barry Church, Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell

Kansas City Chiefs

Head Coach Andy Reid 5th year
Offensive Coordinator Matt Nagy 1st year
Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton 5th year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Andy Reid -- Head Coach       Matt Nagy -- OC      
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 16 9 13   Points QB COACH QB COACH 13
Pace 29 31 29   Pace QB COACH QB COACH 29
Pass Attempts 28 29 25   Pass Attempts QB COACH QB COACH 25
Passing Yards 29 30 19   Passing Yards QB COACH QB COACH 19
Rushing Attempts 16 13 14   Rushing Attempts QB COACH QB COACH 14
Rushing Yards 10 6 15   Rushing Yards QB COACH QB COACH 15

Offense Breakdown: While former Arena League quarterback Matt Nagy will serve as the Chiefs offensive coordinator, head coach Andy Reid will maintain control of the play-calling. Reid’s offense is slow and methodical and relies on high-volume running with quick passing and play-action to keep the defense on its heels. The team drafted Patrick Mahomes as their quarterback of the future and while some envision him potentially taking over the job as early as this season, Reid likes having Alex Smith who limits the mistakes and knows how to move the chains. The team has used a tandem of Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, but the drafting of Kareem Hunt seems to indicate that Reid would prefer to have one go-to guy, so keep a close watch on the training camp battle and the first few weeks of the regular season.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Alex Smith, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce

Defensive System: 3-4

Defense Breakdown: Bob Sutton’s got mad skills when it comes to running a defense. The base is a 3-4 set-up, but he uses so much motion before the snap and mixes things up so often, that it’s really hard to tell who’s covering who and where the pressure on the QB is going to come from. More often than not, Sutton likes to rush four and use five, sometimes six defensive backs who, along with the linebackers, work out of zone coverage. If a linebacker’s zone is clear, he’ll come in and rush the passer while one of the defensive backs pulls in to cover the vacated zone. For those d-backs, Sutton likes using aggressive but sure-handed tacklers who aren’t afraid to mix it up. Each season it seems to take the unit a couple of games to really jell, but once things click, this defense gets stronger with each game played.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Marcus Peters, Eric Berry

Los Angeles Chargers

Head Coach Anthony Lynn 1st year
Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt 2nd year
Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley 1st year
Offensive System Erhardt-Perkins Offense  

 

Anthony Lynn -- Head Coach       Ken Whisenhunt -- OC    
Category 2014 (NYJ) 2015 (BUF) 2016 (BUF)   Category 2014 (TEN) 2015 (TEN) 2016
Points ASST. HC ASST. HC 10   Points 30 28 9
Pace ASST. HC ASST. HC 16   Pace 21 23 21
Pass Attempts ASST. HC ASST. HC 32   Pass Attempts 24 21 15
Passing Yards ASST. HC ASST. HC 30   Passing Yards 22 26 8
Rushing Attempts ASST. HC ASST. HC 2   Rushing Attempts 29 28 22
Rushing Yards ASST. HC ASST. HC 1   Rushing Yards 26 25 26

Offense Breakdown: After years of working under Rex Ryan as a running backs coach with both the Jets and the Bills, Anthony Lynn gets his first head coaching opportunity leading the Chargers in their new home. Having been a Ryan disciple, Lynn favors the Erhardt-Perkins offense which relies heavily on the run and utilizes play-action to create big plays downfield. He retained Kevin Whisenhunt as the offensive coordinator and will have him call the plays, but Lynn had major input in the new playbook.

The addition of Russell Okung and Forrest Lamp will bolster the offensive line and we’ll see a heavy dose of Melvin Gordon. The volume he’ll see out of that backfield, both in carries and targets, is going to be huge and so long as the knee holds up, he’s going to be a spectacular fantasy asset. The passing game is also potentially explosive and you know Philip Rivers loves to air it out. He’s got a slew of talented wide receivers at his disposal, including Tyrell Williams and a returning Keenan Allen, and has a pair of quality pass-catching tight ends in Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates. Once Gordon helps establish the run, we’re going to be seeing fireworks downfield.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Hunter Henry, Tyrell Williams

Defensive System: 4-3 with a Cover-3

Defense Breakdown: While Gus Bradley’s tenure as head coach of the Jaguars didn’t go so well, he should work a lot better as the defensive coordinator for the Chargers. He goes with a 4-3 base, but likes to use different looks up front and then zone coverage in the secondary. He had issues with this over in Jacksonville as so many of the young defensive backs he had there thrived more in man-man coverage and really had issues with the zone coverage. The veteran group he’s got here should have no problem adjusting to his style.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Joey Bosa, Dwight Lowery, Jason Verrett

Los Angeles Rams

Head Coach Sean McVay 1st year
Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur 1st year
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips 1st year
Offensive System West Coast/Spread Offense  

 

Sean McVay -- Head Coach       Matt LaFleur -- OC    
Category 2014 (WAS) 2015 (WAS) 2016 (WAS)   Category 2014 2015 (ATL) 2016 (ATL)
Points 26 10 12   Points ND QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Pace 27 30 17   Pace ND QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Pass Attempts 18 20 7   Pass Attempts ND QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Passing Yards 11 11 2   Passing Yards ND QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Rushing Attempts 21 15 27   Rushing Attempts ND QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Rushing Yards 19 20 21   Rushing Yards ND QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH

Offense Breakdown: After the disastrous tenure of Jeff Fisher, the Rams get a fresh start with first-time head coach Sean McVay, who had been working as the offensive coordinator for the Redskins and Matt LaFleur, former QB coach for the Falcons. McVay says he runs a west coast offense which focuses on the short passing game instead of power running, but he actually ran a spread formation more often during his last two years in Washington. The spread offense will probably work a whole lot better with the Rams given the personnel. McVay and LaFleur will implement a zone-blocking run scheme which will be hugely beneficial to Todd Gurley and with the defense more spread out, the pulling guards and tackles should have more room to block downfield. Technically this will open the door for a lot more play-action, but considering quarterback Jared Goff doesn’t really have a decent receiving corps, McVay may just stick to the short-passing game instead of trying to take shots downfield.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Todd Gurley, Jared Goff, Robert Woods

Defensive System: 3-4

Defense Breakdown: They say good defense wins ballgames, so why wouldn’t you bring in a defensive guru like Wade Phillips to whip this unit back into shape? Phillips has some really nice young talent here who should thrive in his system. In his 3-4 base, Phillips uses one-gap assignments for his linemen which then allows his linebackers to come in, fill the other gaps and either rush the passer or stay in short coverage. He also likes to use press-coverage with his cornerbacks which will generate more pressure on the quarterback, so expect a nice sack total and high takeaways.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Aaron Donald, Alec Ogletree

Miami Dolphins

Head Coach Adam Gase 2nd year
Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen 2nd year
Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke 1st year
Offensive System Air Coryell  

 

Adam Gase -- Head Coach       Clyde Christensen -- OC    
Category 2014 (DEN) 2015 (CHI) 2016   Category 2014 (IND) 2015 (IND) 2016
Points 2 23 17   Points QB COACH QB COACH 17
Pace 10 21 32   Pace QB COACH QB COACH 32
Pass Attempts 9 25 31   Pass Attempts QB COACH QB COACH 31
Passing Yards 4 23 26   Passing Yards QB COACH QB COACH 26
Rushing Attempts 12 6 18   Rushing Attempts QB COACH QB COACH 18
Rushing Yards 15 11 9   Rushing Yards QB COACH QB COACH 9

Offense Breakdown: Adam Gase is gearing up for his second season running the Dolphins and while he’s got Clyde Christensen as his offensive coordinator, Gase will be the one calling the plays. He uses the Air Coryell system as his base offense, but he’s actually been quite successful adjusting and tailoring his scheme towards the strengths of his personnel. He likes to run an up-tempo offense, something he watched Peyton Manning do in Denver (yes, people, Peyton definitely was his own offensive coordinator) and would like to try and implement that here in Miami. It wasn’t successful last year with Ryan Tannehill and he made the adjustments, but now with Jay Cutler under center, he’s likely to work it back into the system.

The primary feature of his offense is obviously how he spreads the defense and offers a variety of looks with a lot of motion. That allows him to go with a run-heavy attack early with Jay Ajayi and then utilize the short passes and timing routes. Last season the Fins were very successful when Ajayi saw at least 20 carries in a game, so again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Leaning heavily on Ajayi will really open up the passing lanes and we could see some impressive connections between Cutler, Jarvius Landry and DeVante Parker.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Jay Cutler, Jay Ajayi, DeVante Parker

Defensive System: 4-3 with Cover-2 & 3 schemes

Defense Breakdown: With the departure of Vance Joseph, the Dolphins promoted linebackers coach Matt Burke to defensive coordinator where he is expected to, unfortunately, maintain much of what the team did last season. The base defense is considered a 4-3, but the team was using a wide-nine set-up a lot more often. That’s when you line up two defensive linemen to the outside of the line near the tight end and speed rush into the backfield. It’s a scheme that suits Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh well, but if the linebackers who start to move in towards the line aren’t strong tacklers and can’t stuff the run, the scheme doesn’t really work. Add to that the shakiness of the cover schemes and you’ve got some serious defensive liabilities, so look for Burke to start thinking early about adjustments.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh

Minnesota Vikings

Head Coach Mike Zimmer 4th year
Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur 1st year
Defensive Coordinator George Edwards 4th year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Mike Zimmer -- Head Coach       Pat Shurmur -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 (PHI) 2015 (PHI) 2016
Points 20 16 23   Points 3 13 23
Pace 17 27 24   Pace 1 1 24
Pass Attempts 22 32 12   Pass Attempts 5 6 12
Passing Yards 28 31 18   Passing Yards 6 12 18
Rushing Attempts 18 4 25   Rushing Attempts 7 11 25
Rushing Yards 14 4 32   Rushing Yards 9 14 32

Offense Breakdown: As a defensive-minded coach, Mike Zimmer sticks to calling the plays on that side of the ball while he puts his trust in his offensive coordinator. When the team struggled after their bye week last season, he did try to get more involved with the offense which led to him and Norv Turner butting heads and eventually sending Turner out the door. Tight ends coach Pat Shurmur was tabbed as the new OC and will institute a west coast offense with sort of a spread offense hybrid and up-tempo style. He’s got a strong relationship with Sam Bradford that dates back to time spent together in both Philadelphia and St. Louis and knows exactly what he’s capable of doing. The quick, short passes to Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph will help move the ball downfield and the spread aspect should open up a number of running lanes for Dalvin Cook and, if he plays, Latavius Murray.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Sam Bradford, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Dalvin Cook

Defensive System: 4-3

Defense Breakdown: While George Edwards is the defensive coordinator, he’s more in charge of developing the linebackers and young talent while Zimmer handles the play-calling. They actually do a great job of complementing each other and Zimmer definitely takes a lot of his cues from what Edwards is seeing on the field. They expect their lineman and linebackers to be versatile as they actually like to switch up to a 3-4 at times and they expect their defensive backs to be able to play on either side of the field as they like to use a lot of man-coverage and press coverage.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr

New England Patriots

Head Coach Bill Belichick 18th year
Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels 6th year
Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia 6th year
Offensive System Spread Offense  

 

Bill Belichick -- Head Coach       Josh McDaniels -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 4 3 3   Points 4 3 3
Pace 2 9 15   Pace 2 9 15
Pass Attempts 7 5 23   Pass Attempts 7 5 23
Passing Yards 9 5 4   Passing Yards 9 5 4
Rushing Attempts 13 25 3   Rushing Attempts 13 25 3
Rushing Yards 18 30 7   Rushing Yards 18 30 7

Offense Breakdown: The base is that of a spread offense in which three or more receivers run routes to separate areas of the field to stretch out the defense, but this scheme is continuously in flux based on week-to-week match-ups and play-to-play adjustments. As great a Bill Belichick is with his adjustments on defense, Josh McDaniels is equally strong with the offense. The offense is capable of lining up in a variety of different ways and predicting what they are going to do within each series has proven to be an exercise in futility.

In an effort to preserve Tom Brady, the Patriots may incorporate the run more often and with four running backs – two pass-catchers and two downhill runners – they shouldn’t have any trouble making the adjustment. LeGarrette Blount was a revelation last year with 18 touchdowns, but it seems unlikely that we will see something like that from former Bills RB Mike Gillislee. He and Rex Burkhead should share that role.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Can we just name them all?

Defensive System: 4-3 hybrid with multi-front looks

Defense Breakdown: As tough as it is to pinpoint the offense to one particular system, the defense, which is run by the mad genius himself, can be even more complex. While the base is 4-3, the Patriots offer up countless different looks and are able to disguise their coverage and blitzes pretty well. Bellichick expects all of his players to be able to adjust to any type of scheme without missing a beat and, so far, he and his coaches have done a fantastic job teaching them. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has been taking a more active role in the play-calling which means Bellichick is giving him a full-on education and ready to see that coaching tree sprout more branches.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Again….can’t we just say everyone on this side of the ball too?

New Orleans Saints

Head Coach Sean Payton 12th year
Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael 9th year
Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen 4th year
Offensive System Air Coryell  

 

Sean Payton -- Head Coach       Pete Carmichael -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 9 8 2   Points 9 8 2
Pace 5 13 1   Pace 5 13 1
Pass Attempts 2 2 2   Pass Attempts 2 2 2
Passing Yards 3 1 1   Passing Yards 3 1 1
Rushing Attempts 19 20 19   Rushing Attempts 19 20 19
Rushing Yards 13 24 16   Rushing Yards 13 24 16

Offense Breakdown: The tandem of head coach Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael do a fantastic job of advanced defensive scouting and play-calling to expose any holes in the opposition’s game plan. They use a lot of motion to keep the defense guessing and rely on the quick timing-routes which helps with piling on the yards after the catch. While they’ve made a number of improvements in incorporating the ground game over the years, the Saints actually use a lot of deep plays to set-up the underneath passes.

As for the ground attack, the Saints have themselves a strong offensive line and utilize a blend of both zone and power-blocking. Mark Ingram seems to thrive behind the zone-blocking while newcomer Adrian Peterson has long been a proponent of following his blockers downfield. How the Saints ultimately split the workload is not yet known, but keep in mind that this is still a pass-heavy offense and will likely remain as such.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Michael Thomas

Defensive System: 4-3

Defense Breakdown: Dennis Allen continues to teach and develop his defense and has taken a once-atrocious unit and turned it into something a whole lot more respectable. He uses a 4-3 base, but has definitely been known to mix it up often depending on the opposition. He also likes to use more zone coverage in the secondary, but with the addition of Marshon Lattimore to an already strong crew of defensive backs, there’s a chance we see more man-coverage which could help with the takeaways.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Delvin Breaux, Kenny Vaccaro

New York Giants

Head Coach Ben McAdoo 2nd year
Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan 2nd year
Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo 2nd year
Offensive System West Coast/Up Tempo  

 

Ben McAdoo -- Head Coach       Mike Sullivan -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 (TB) 2015 2016
Points 13 6 26   Points 30 QB COACH 26
Pace 7 2 4   Pace 23 QB COACH 4
Pass Attempts 9 7 8   Pass Attempts 26 QB COACH 8
Passing Yards 7 7 17   Passing Yards 32 QB COACH 17
Rushing Attempts 10 19 22   Rushing Attempts 21 QB COACH 22
Rushing Yards 23 19 29   Rushing Yards 22 QB COACH 29

Offense Breakdown: While many Giants fans will complain that Ben McAdoo’s west coast offense implementation lacked innovation, the team still managed tremendous success despite a fairly low-scoring offense. With little to no ground game, Eli Manning focused heavily on the short, high-percentage passes and used them to open up the deeper plays downfield. You would have thought the team would have addressed that in the offseason, but rather than find someone to replace or even complement Paul Perkins, the Giants brought in wide receiver Brandon Marshall to give Manning yet another target. We should see more of the same this season, though there’s a good chance the Giants try to use more of a spread offense to keep Eli from throwing in too much traffic.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall

Defensive System: 4-3

Defense Breakdown: Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo uses the 4-3 base, but is all about applying heavy QB pressure and will blitz with almost anyone on the field. His main goal is to disrupt and distract the opposing QB and force him into making a rash of bad decisions. A strong showing with takeaways and sacks seems to make the Giants defense a solid defense pick in fantasy.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, Landon Collins

New York Jets

Head Coach Todd Bowles 3rd year
Offensive Coordinator John Morton 1st year
Defensive Coordinator Kacy Rodgers 3rd year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Todd Bowles -- Head Coach       John Morton -- OC    
Category 2014 (ARI) 2015 2016   Category 2014 (SF) 2015 (NO) 2016 (NO)
Points DC 11 30   Points WR COACH WR COACH WR COACH
Pace DC 16 28   Pace WR COACH WR COACH WR COACH
Pass Attempts DC 15 23   Pass Attempts WR COACH WR COACH WR COACH
Passing Yards DC 13 27   Passing Yards WR COACH WR COACH WR COACH
Rushing Attempts DC 10 13   Rushing Attempts WR COACH WR COACH WR COACH
Rushing Yards DC 10 12   Rushing Yards WR COACH WR COACH WR COACH

Offense Breakdown: Bleh. That’s probably the best way to sum it up here. Todd Bowles is a defensive coach who doesn’t touch the offense and he’s hired Saints WR coach John Morton to replace the recently retired Chan Gailey as the team’s offensive coordinator. Morton spent two years as Pete Carroll’s offensive coordinator at USC, but has spent the majority of his time as a receivers coach at the collegiate level and has never handled the play-calling, let alone even designed an offense of his own.

Morton is expected to implement a west coast style offense and will rely heavily on the short passing game, but he’s also said that he will tailor his scheme towards the strengths of his personnel. Look for Matt Forte and Bilal Powell to be very active in the passing game and now with Quincy Enunwa out for the season, we should start seeing a number of different faces moving in and out of the lineup. From a fantasy perspective, move along. There is nothing to see here.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Bilal Powell

Defensive System: 3-4

Defense Breakdown: Considering all the off-field issues for Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams, this defensive unit is just as disgusting as its offensive counterpart. Defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers works in conjunction with Bowles and employ an aggressive coverage style in the secondary in which they like to blitz and swap coverage mid-play.  You’ll see a combination of both man-to-man and zone coverage, though, they may need to decide on one way or the other as they got burned often on deep plays as the coverage failed to hold up long enough during unsuccessful pass rush attempts.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson

Oakland Raiders

Head Coach Jack Del Rio 3rd year
Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing 1st year
Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr. 3rd year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Jack Del Rio -- Head Coach       Todd Downing -- OC    
Category 2014 (DEN) 2015 2016   Category 2014 (BUF) 2015 2016
Points 2 17 7   Points QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Pace 10 17 22   Pace QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Pass Attempts 9 14 9   Pass Attempts QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Passing Yards 4 16 13   Passing Yards QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Rushing Attempts 12 29 11   Rushing Attempts QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Rushing Yards 15 28 6   Rushing Yards QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH

Offense Breakdown: The Raiders ended up getting rid of offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and replaced him quarterbacks coach Todd Downing. The system will remain a west coast offense with a heavy reliance on the short, high-percentage pass plays, though they will also interject a significant amount of running with Marshawn Lynch following a zone-blocking scheme. The one thing Downing does want to change is that he wants to slow the offense down a little bit. That will reduce the volume of plays, for sure, thus affecting some of the fantasy value. It shouldn’t have too much of a negative effect, but there will be some expected.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Derek Carr, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Crabtree

Defensive System: 4-3

Defense Breakdown: Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr. will stay with the 4-3 base, though they’ll move a lot of different personnel in and out throughout the game to offer up some different looks on the defensive line. They’ll also stick with the zone coverage in the secondary, though they’re going to need to either add some personnel to the secondary or tighten up the zones as they were burned on more than just a few occasions last season.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Khalil Mack, Karl Joseph

Philadelphia Eagles

Head Coach Doug Pederson 2nd year
Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich 2nd year
Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz 2nd year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Doug Pederson -- Head Coach       Frank Reich -- OC      
Category 2014 (KC) 2015 (KC) 2016   Category 2014 (SD) 2015 (SD) 2016
Points 16 9 16   Points 17 26 16
Pace 29 31 19   Pace 28 14 19
Pass Attempts 28 29 15   Pass Attempts 14 3 15
Passing Yards 29 30 13   Passing Yards 10 4 13
Rushing Attempts 16 13 10   Rushing Attempts 23 22 10
Rushing Yards 10 6 15   Rushing Yards 30 31 15

Offense Breakdown: While offensive coordinator Frank Reich will continue to nurture Carson Wentz, head coach Doug Pederson will continue to handle the play-calling. The Eagles will utilize a west coast offense that focuses heavily on short, high-percentage passes which will set up more outside runs and deeper passes downfield. They brought in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith who will add much stronger options alongside Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews. The Eagles will also utilize a combination of power and zone-blocking and, similar to last season, will continue to mix in a variety of running styles between LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles and even Donnel Pumphrey.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz

Defensive System: 4-3

Defense Breakdown: Jim Schwartz found success when he changed the Eagles defense to a 4-3 base with multi-front tendencies and rotated in his incredible line depth to continuously attack the opposing quarterback. He also dropped an extra linebacker into coverage so not to over-pursue in the pass-rush and stopped using the Cover-2 in the secondary. The tilt towards more man-coverage helped prevent the big plays that had continuously plagued them in previous seasons. Schwartz also likes to focus on the turnovers and has his team trying to strip the ball at each and every turn. They’ve been plenty aggressive since changing the scheme and it’s proven to be highly successful.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Jordan Hicks, Rodney McLeod

Pittsburgh Steelers

Head Coach Mike Tomlin 10th year
Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley 5th year
Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler 3rd year
Offensive System Erhardt-Perkins Offense  

 

Mike Tomlin -- Head Coach       Todd Haley -- OC      
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 7 4 10   Points 7 4 10
Pace 22 15 7   Pace 22 15 7
Pass Attempts 6 16 9   Pass Attempts 6 16 9
Passing Yards 2 3 5   Passing Yards 2 3 5
Rushing Attempts 15 24 16   Rushing Attempts 15 24 16
Rushing Yards 16 16 14   Rushing Yards 16 16 14

Offense Breakdown: It’s a pretty basic game plan as offensive coordinator Todd Haley likes to lean heavily on the run and utilizes play-action to create big plays downfield. Le’Veon Bell gets most, if not all the work which creates nice high-volume opportunities for him and the zone-blocking scheme jibes perfectly with his style of running. He’s also the No. 2 target in the passing game which obviously increases his overall value in both reality and fantasy. From there, it’s all about the big plays to Antonio Brown and, this season hopefully, Martavis Bryant. This offensive scheme is a nice example of Occam’s Razor where the simplest of answers (and schemes) is often the right one.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown

Defensive System: 3-4

Defense Breakdown: Defensive coordinator Keith Butler took over for Dick LeBeau in 2015 and added a few of his own nuances to the old 3-4 system that had been in place. Butler likes to mix up the defensive line set-ups and he’s extremely aggressive with the blitz packages. With strong depth at the line and in the linebacker position, Butler rotates in a lot of personnel to keep everyone fresh and active.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Ryan Shazier, Cameron Heyward

San Francisco 49ers

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan 1st year
Offensive Coordinator none  
Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh 1st year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Kyle Shanahan -- Head Coach    
Category 2014 (CLE) 2015 (ATL) 2016 (ATL)
Points 27 21 1
Pace 4 20 23
Pass Attempts 26 8 26
Passing Yards 20 6 3
Rushing Attempts 6 16 12
Rushing Yards 17 18 5

Offense Breakdown: Kyle Shanahan heads to the Bay area as the 49ers new head coach and he will also handle the work of the offensive coordinator. We’ll see his implementation of the west coast offense which utilizes a ton of short, high-percentage pass plays instead of power rushing and those will hopefully set up the bigger plays downfield and the outside runs. Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme has proven to be highly successful wherever he’s coached, so you can expect that to happen here as well. The only real question is who the primary back will be. There’s speculation that Carlos Hyde is not the best fit here, but that would mean turning to Tim Hightower and Joe Williams, neither of whom are ready or capable of handling the full complement of caries. It seems unlikely that Shanahan will evenly rotate all three, so keep a watchful eye in training camp for now. As for the passing attack, Brian Hoyer should do well in Shanahan’s system and with the addition of Pierre Garcon to the mix, he’s got himself a go-to receiver with good hands and strong work ethic.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Brian Hoyer, Pierre Garcon,

Defensive System: 4-3

Defense Breakdown: Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is switching the 49ers to a 4-3 system that will involve a heavy rotation of personnel and a lot of pre-snap movement. The key for Saleh is how the secondary unfolds. He’s going to use zone coverage but again, will mix in personnel to hopefully disguise some of the coverage schemes.

Players Who Best Fit the System: NaVorro Bowman, Malcolm Smith

Seattle Seahawks

Head Coach Pete Carroll 8th year
Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell 7th year
Defensive Coordinator Kris Richard 3rd year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Pete Carroll -- Head Coach       Darrell Bevell -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 10 5 18   Points 10 5 18
Pace 31 28 14   Pace 31 28 14
Pass Attempts 32 28 18   Pass Attempts 32 28 18
Passing Yards 27 20 10   Passing Yards 27 20 10
Rushing Attempts 2 3 20   Rushing Attempts 2 3 20
Rushing Yards 1 3 25   Rushing Yards 1 3 25

Offense Breakdown: Pete Carroll’s west coast offense continues to work wonders in Seattle and neither he nor Darrell Bevell feel the need to alter the game plan or the scheme very much. However, the offensive line is looking a little rough, so while they’ll remain a run-first team and sort out what they do with Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise, perhaps they actually tilt towards even more of the short, high-percentage passes usually associated with the west coast offense. It’s going to come down to whether or not they really need to alter the plan. Their zone-blocking scheme has proven to be effective, so until it isn’t, you can expect your high volume of running plays. If they do need to tilt, look for Doug Baldwin’s value to see a nice spike as he’s really jelled nicely with Russell Wilson in this scheme.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Russell Wilson, Eddie Lacy, Doug Baldwin

Defensive System: 4-3

Defense Breakdown: Here’s another “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” situations as long-time defensive backs coach Kris Richard now takes the reins of the team’s defense. He’s not going to make any real changes to speak of here as we’ll see his usual aggressive style that helped shape the Legion of Boom and he’ll throw down plenty of nickel packages. Richard has been a big part of cultivating the defensive talent here over the years and it’s difficult to think that anything will or needs to change.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Head Coach Dirk Koetter 2nd year
Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken 2nd year
Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith 2nd year
Offensive System Air Coryell  

 

Dirk Koetter -- Head Coach       Todd Monken -- OC    
Category 2014 (ATL) 2015 2016   Category 2014 2015 2016
Points 12 20 18   Points SO. MISS HC SO. MISS HC 18
Pace 6 7 10   Pace SO. MISS HC SO. MISS HC 10
Pass Attempts 3 22 16   Pass Attempts SO. MISS HC SO. MISS HC 16
Passing Yards 5 17 16   Passing Yards SO. MISS HC SO. MISS HC 16
Rushing Attempts 27 8 7   Rushing Attempts SO. MISS HC SO. MISS HC 7
Rushing Yards 24 5 24   Rushing Yards SO. MISS HC SO. MISS HC 24

Offense Breakdown: Despite bringing in former Southern Mississippi head coach Todd Monken to serve as the offensive coordinator, head coach Dirk Koetter will continue to call the plays on offense. He is a big fan of the vertical passing game and while he does mix in some elements of the west coast and spread offense (the one Monken used over the last few seasons), he’d like to stick with what he’s got as far as a game plan goes. That means we’re going to continue to see a high volume of targets for Mike Evans again. Even with Doug Martin suspended for the first few games, Koetter wants to continue to stretch the field and utilize a power running game with Jacquizz Rogers and Co., while mixing in all those short, timing-routes. In fact, this passing game, with the addition of DeSean Jackson and tight end O.J. Howard is likely to expand a great deal this season which means fantasy owners should see a nice increase for Jameis Winston.  

Players Who Best Fit the System: Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, Cameron Brate

Defensive System: 4-3 (multi-front)

Defense Breakdown: This is all Mike Smith’s work here and there’s very little that will change from last season. Smith will switch back and forth between the 3-4 and the 4-3 set-up, depending on the play calls and the situations, and will continue to drop his linebackers back into coverage to protect the Cover-2 zone coverage he likes to use in the secondary. It may be an antiquated scheme, but Smith sticks with it and seems to get his players to routinely buy into it.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Gerald McCoy, Robert Ayers

Tennessee Titans

Head Coach Mike Mularkey 2nd year
Offensive Coordinator Terry Robiskie 2nd year
Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau 2nd year
Offensive System Erhardt-Perkins Offense  

 

Mike Mularkey -- Head Coach       Terry Robiskie -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 (ATL) 2015 (ATL) 2016
Points TE COACH 28 14   Points WR COACH WR COACH 14
Pace TE COACH 23 26   Pace WR COACH WR COACH 26
Pass Attempts TE COACH 21 28   Pass Attempts WR COACH WR COACH 28
Passing Yards TE COACH 25 25   Passing Yards WR COACH WR COACH 25
Rushing Attempts TE COACH 28 4   Rushing Attempts WR COACH WR COACH 4
Rushing Yards TE COACH 25 3   Rushing Yards WR COACH WR COACH 3

Offense Breakdown: No surprise here as head coach Mike Mularkey likes to utilize a run-first scheme with his “thunder and thunder” backfield tandem of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. The team goes with a power-blocking scheme which means the guards and tackles will pull and help take care of the defenders downfield. From there, things will open up and Marcus Mariota will be able to take care of business downfield. He’s got a great security blanket in Eric Decker now and he’ll continue to lean heavily on Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker as well.

One of the biggest helps to Mariota and the offense last year was Mike Mularkey and Terry Robiskie’s use of the read option. It allowed Mariota to rack up some nice yardage, but it also opened up things tremendously as now the defense had yet another issue to watch. With the strong backfield, a mobile quarterback and a solid, high-volume passing attack, the Titans offense appears to be one of the most balanced in the NFL right now.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Marcus Mariota, DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker

Defensive System: 3-4

Defense Breakdown: Dick LeBeau is one of the greats and his zone blitz scheme does an amazing job, particularly against high-volume passing offenses. It uses a variety of different pass coverages and brings pressure to the quarterback from all sides, though not simultaneously. LeBeau will always work to stop the run first and that’s usually his game plan early on each week. He also makes sure his corners are hitting their receivers at the line of scrimmage regularly in an effor4t to throw off any timing routes,

Players Who Best Fit the System: Brian Orakpo, Da’Norris Searcy

Washington Redskins

Head Coach Jay Gruden 4th year
Offensive Coordinator Matt Cavanaugh 1st year
Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky 1st year
Offensive System West Coast Offense  

 

Jay Gruden -- Head Coach       Matt Cavanaugh -- OC    
Category 2014 2015 2016   Category 2014 (CHI) 2015 2016
Points 26 10 12   Points QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Pace 27 30 17   Pace QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Pass Attempts 18 20 7   Pass Attempts QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Passing Yards 11 11 2   Passing Yards QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Rushing Attempts 21 15 27   Rushing Attempts QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH
Rushing Yards 19 20 21   Rushing Yards QB COACH QB COACH QB COACH

Offense Breakdown: After losing Sean McVay, head coach Jay Gruden promoted Matt Cavanugh to the OC position, but took back the play-calling on offense. He is going to maintain the version of west coast offense they ran last year under McVay which means a reliance on the power running and then short passes over the middle. That will open things up for Kirk Cousins who loves to throw the bomberooskie down the sidelines.

As far as the ground game goes, Robert Kelley is going to get a lot of work early. He’ll see plenty of power runs between the tackles and while he may not be a good pass-catcher, he’s a solid pass-blocker and could be on the field for every down, depending on how Samaje Perine develops.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed

Defensive System: 3-4

Defense Breakdown: Former linebacker coach Greg Manusky will take over the defensive play-calling and will continue to utilize the 3-4 base defense. He’ll likely change a few things up on the defensive line depending on the situation, but this system works very well for the team’s first-round pick, Jonathan Allen who has some nice versatility and can play both on the inside and the outside. Expect to see a lot of blitzes and a lot of edge-rushes from the linebackers. Manusky likes to employ zone coverage in the secondary, so like we’ve seen with so many other Cover-2 and 3 zone schemes, offenses are going to try and lure the safeties in and expose the secondary to some big plays.

Players Who Best Fit the System: Josh Norman, Jonathan Allen

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