The New 49ers OC: A Raye of Hope? (Part 1)

FOOCH'S NOTE 2/5 - Part 2 is now up here.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE, I'VE ADDED TO THE COMMENTS SECTION AN EXPLANATION OF THE TABLE ABBREVIATIONS.

Even though a contract has yet to be signed (Paraag, ever heard of a fax machine?), the worst kept secret in Santa Clara is that Jimmy Raye II has been hired as the 49ers' offensive coordinator for the 2009 season. I have to admit. When I heard about this hire, my first reaction was, "Who the (site decorum) is Jimmy Raye II?" After a quick look at Raye's bio and previous coaching experience, I've found out who he is: An old guy who has somehow managed to fly under the NFL coaching (and Wikipedia) radar for 30 years. Unfortunately, this newfound knowledge opens the door to several more important questions:

  • How have previous Raye-led offenses performed?
  • Was Raye a good hire considering the other candidates?
  • How does Raye compare to the other NFL OCs?
  • How does Raye compare to previous 49er OCs?
  • What kind of performance can we expect from Raye's offense next season (and beyond)?

Answering these questions is the goal of this article, which I've broken up into two parts. Part 1, which you're reading right now, addresses the first 4 questions. Part 2 (aka The Grand Finale) addresses the final question, and will get posted tomorrow morning.

RAYE'S RAP SHEET (AKA PREVIOUS OFFENSES)

As is common knowledge by now, the 49ers will be Raye's 7th stop as an NFL OC, and 2009 will be his 13th year in that position. Interestingly, and somewhat different from the norm in today's NFL, 6 of his 12 years of OC experience came prior to 1992 (NE, TB, and LA Rams twice). Because the DVOA era began in 1995, Raye's rap sheet will therefore only include his offenses in KC (1998-2000), WAS (2001), and OAK (2004-2005). Here it is:

YEAR

TEAM

TOTAL

TRK

WEIGHT

WRK

PASS

PRK

RUSH

RRK

VAR

VRK

2005

OAK

-0.1%

13

-5.4%

17

1.2%

16

-2.1%

11

3.8%

5

2004

OAK

0.1%

16

-0.2%

15

1.3%

16

-1.8%

16

7.5%

21

2001

WAS

-11.9%

25

-2.4%

14

-17.7%

27

-7.0%

14

10.9%

29

2000

KC

10.0%

7

8.0%

8

20.1%

7

-4.3%

22

9.4%

25

1999

KC

5.5%

8

1.8%

11

12.2%

9

-0.4%

10

8.2%

16

1998

KC

-7.0%

17

-6.1%

19

-11.6%

21

-1.7%

10

9.8%

25

AVG

 

-0.6%

14.3

-0.7%

14.0

0.9%

16.0

-2.9%

13.8

8.3%

20.2

Overall, the best phrase to describe previous Raye-led offenses is "inconsistently average." What do I mean by this? Well, basically, every DVOA and its associated ranking are right around average, while variance (VAR) and its ranking are pretty high. Because high variance means week-to-week inconsistency, that's where I get "inconsistently average."

Before I move on, here are two more observations about Raye's rap sheet. First, as indicated by the difference between weighted and total DVOA (or lack thereof), Raye's offenses perform no better towards the end of the season than they do during the beginning or middle. Second, and more importantly, Raye-led offenses have actually been more efficient in the passing game than in the running game (+3.8%) even though his rush offenses have been higher ranked (+2.2). This is key when you consider what Singletary was looking for in an OC; which brings me to my next question.

After the jump, I'll compare Raye to the other OC candidates, compare his offenses to those of the current NFL OCs, and compare his credentials to those of recent 49er OCs...

PLAYING SECOND FIDDLE

Even though Singletary denies it, the 2nd-worst kept secret in Santa Clara is that he offered Scott Linehan the OC job before offering it to Raye. Given that I was a big Linehan advocate - at least before he pulled a Tom Coughlin - I initially wondered how Raye's qualifications compared to Linehan's. Then I wondered how Raye compared to all of the other OC candidates. Because Clyde Christensen had no previous OC experience, and Dan Reeves had no previous OC experience in the Cenozoic era, my comparison is limited to 6 of the 8 candidates. Here are the stats:

OC

EXP

TOTAL

TRK

TRKIMPYR1

WEIGHT

WRK

PASS

PRK

RUSH

RRK

VAR

VRK

Chudzinski

2

-5.3%

20.5

20.0

-5.9%

20.5

-9.5%

22.5

-0.9%

15.0

10.3%

23.5

Dennison

3

6.8%

12.7

-19.0

5.0%

15.0

10.5%

13.3

1.9%

13.0

9.3%

26.3

Jackson

2

-8.9%

21.5

7.0

-10.5%

21.5

-7.7%

21.0

-10.6%

24.0

9.8%

26.0

Jagodzinski

1

-5.9%

20.0

0.0

-7.1%

21.0

-4.3%

19.0

-8.1%

23.0

7.6%

23.0

Linehan

4

10.9%

8.5

9.5

10.9%

8.8

11.8%

12.5

9.0%

7.5

4.4%

6.3

RAYE

12

-0.6%

14.3

-5.3

-0.7%

14.0

0.9%

16.0

-2.9%

13.8

8.3%

20.2

These numbers are quite telling. First, it's clear that, of my 5 major qualifications, OC experience was a major factor in Singletary's mind: Raye blows the other 5 out of the water. Second, Jackson and Jagodzinski were clearly unqualified with respect to a history of NFL success (esp. rushing success). Finally, when you consider that Mike Shanahan was the de facto OC in Denver, attributing credit to Dennison for the Broncos' offensive success is a tad generous. Therefore, after excluding Dennison, it appears that Raye was, in fact, the most qualified candidate other than Linehan: He had the 2nd-best DVOAs and associated rankings in 8 of the 10 categories. Really, the only thing that might cause some concern about Raye is that offenses have actually gotten worse upon his arrival.

TAU DELTA

So far, we've determined that, although inconsistently average, Raye's previous offenses nevertheless made him the most qualified OC candidate once Linehan turned down the job (you know, the one he was never offered). The next question becomes: Now that he's rejoined the NFL OC fraternity (ΤΔ?), how does Raye compare to his brothers? Below is a table showing the DVOA stats of every current NFL OC. Continuing my fraternity analogy, though, I've left out Brian Daboll (CLE), Mike McCoy (DEN), Pete Carmichael (NO), and Pat Shurmur (STL) because they're lowly pledges (aka those who have no prior OC experience).

OC

TEAM

EXP

TOTAL

OCTRK

WEIGHT

OCWRK

PASS

OCPRK

RUSH

OCRRK

VAR

OCVRK

Arians

PIT

5

-6.6%

25

-8.3%

24

-3.9%

19

-8.9%

24

5.9%

11

Bevell

MIN

3

-5.8%

21

-5.9%

21

-11.1%

24

-0.5%

14

5.5%

5

Bratkowski

CIN

12

1.0%

14

2.9%

11

2.8%

14

-1.2%

16

7.7%

16

Cameron

BAL

6

11.6%

5

10.3%

8

12.5%

8

11.8%

1

8.4%

20

Davidson

CAR

3

-5.0%

20

-5.0%

20

-5.5%

22

-4.3%

21

8.4%

21

Gailey

KC

5

-1.8%

19

0.0%

16

-3.3%

18

-0.7%

15

7.6%

15

Garrett

DAL

2

6.7%

10

4.7%

9

8.1%

12

5.5%

5

11.0%

26

Gilbride

NYG

13

-0.4%

16

-1.8%

19

-4.6%

21

3.2%

8

8.0%

18

Haley

ARI

2

5.8%

11

2.7%

12

17.0%

6

-12.8%

26

5.7%

9

Heimerdinger

TEN

7

1.1%

13

2.4%

13

6.1%

13

-3.9%

19

6.5%

13

Henning

MIA

12

-6.1%

23

-7.6%

23

-2.9%

17

-9.0%

25

5.4%

4

Jagodzinski

TB

1

-5.9%

22

-7.1%

22

-4.3%

20

-8.1%

22

7.6%

14

Knapp

SEA

8

1.0%

15

0.9%

14

-6.5%

23

7.0%

4

8.7%

23

Koetter

JAC

2

13.9%

2

17.0%

2

25.0%

2

3.5%

7

4.1%

1

Linehan

DET

4

10.9%

8

10.9%

7

11.8%

9

9.0%

2

4.4%

3

Moore

IND

22

19.1%

1

19.8%

1

33.1%

1

2.2%

9

5.8%

10

Mornhinweg

PHI

7

11.2%

7

11.8%

6

13.5%

7

8.7%

3

8.6%

22

Mularkey

ATL

5

2.0%

12

3.3%

10

9.1%

11

-4.3%

20

5.5%

6

Philbin

GB

2

13.3%

3

13.6%

5

21.9%

4

1.5%

11

7.9%

17

RAYE

SF

12

-0.6%

17

-0.7%

17

0.9%

15

-2.9%

18

8.3%

19

Schonert

BUF

1

-6.2%

24

-9.4%

25

-12.8%

25

0.3%

13

6.4%

12

Schottenheimer

NYJ

3

-1.7%

18

-1.5%

18

-0.4%

16

-2.5%

17

5.7%

8

Shanahan

HOU

1

11.4%

6

15.1%

3

19.5%

5

1.9%

10

5.6%

7

Shelmon

SD

2

13.1%

4

14.7%

4

24.8%

3

1.0%

12

9.8%

25

Smith

WAS

1

8.5%

9

0.1%

15

11.7%

10

5.4%

6

4.4%

2

Turner, R.

CHI

4

-11.4%

26

-11.9%

26

-15.0%

26

-8.4%

23

8.7%

24

AVG

 

5.6

3.0%

 

2.7%

 

5.7%

 

-0.2%

 

7.0%

 

 And here's the same table using DVOA rankings rather than actual DVOA stats. The reason I'm showing you this one will become clear very shortly.

OC

TEAM

EXP

TRK

OCTRK

WRK

OCWRK

PRK

OCPRK

RRK

OCRK

VRK

OCVRK

Arians

PIT

5

22.4

23

22.8

24

20.6

22

22.4

24

12.0

10

Bevell

MIN

3

22.7

24

22.0

21

24.0

24

15.3

16

11.0

6

Bratkowski

CIN

12

15.0

13

13.7

10

15.3

13

14.0

11

20.1

20

Cameron

BAL

6

10.3

8

10.2

8

12.3

9

6.0

1

19.0

18

Davidson

CAR

3

21.3

22

22.0

21

22.7

23

19.0

21

24.0

24

Gailey

KC

5

16.4

18

16.2

15

17.4

17

14.2

14

20.0

19

Garrett

DAL

2

10.0

6

17.0

16

16.0

14

8.5

4

29.0

26

Gilbride

NYG

13

15.8

17

17.1

17

18.6

18

11.8

8

18.0

17

Haley

ARI

2

14.0

10

15.5

14

10.5

7

27.5

26

13.5

12

Heimerdinger

TEN

7

14.6

12

14.4

12

14.0

11

17.9

19

13.3

11

Henning

MIA

12

18.9

19

19.0

19

17.0

16

21.5

23

10.5

5

Jagodzinski

TB

1

20.0

21

21.0

20

19.0

19

23.0

25

23.0

23

Knapp

SEA

8

15.5

16

15.4

13

19.3

21

9.8

5

17.6

16

Koetter

JAC

2

10.0

6

8.0

3

7.5

2

11.5

7

3.0

1

Linehan

DET

4

8.5

2

8.8

6

12.5

10

7.5

3

6.3

3

Moore

IND

22

4.5

1

4.5

1

4.5

1

11.8

9

11.5

8

Mornhinweg

PHI

7

8.6

3

7.9

2

10.3

6

7.1

2

17.1

15

Mularkey

ATL

5

15.2

15

13.6

9

12.0

8

18.4

20

11.6

9

Philbin

GB

2

9.0

4

8.0

3

8.0

3

14.0

11

20.5

22

RAYE

SF

12

14.3

11

14.0

11

16.0

14

13.8

10

20.2

21

Schonert

BUF

1

24.0

25

26.0

26

26.0

26

16.0

17

15.0

13

Schottenheimer

NYJ

3

19.3

20

18.7

18

19.0

19

17.0

18

11.0

6

Shanahan

HOU

1

11.0

9

10.0

7

10.0

5

14.0

11

9.0

4

Shelmon

SD

2

9.0

4

8.5

5

8.0

3

14.5

15

28.0

25

Smith

WAS

1

15.0

13

22.0

21

14.0

11

10.0

6

4.0

2

Turner, R.

CHI

4

24.8

26

25.5

25

25.5

25

20.0

22

16.0

14

AVG

5.6

15.0

 

15.4

 

15.4

 

14.9

 

15.5

 

Looking at the first table (i.e., the DVOA stats table), you see that the average NFL OC has about 6 years of previous OC experience. However, that stat is misleading because the average drops to 3.5 when you take out the 5 OCs that have 12 or more years of experience. All in all, then, we can say that the typical OC is not all that experienced. In terms of the average performance of offenses led by current NFL OCs, the first table shows that they're above average overall and in the passing game, they're essentially average in the running game, and they perform slightly worse than usual late in the season. Therefore, when compared to the average NFL OC, it makes perfect sense that Raye was hired on Opposite Day: He's (a) über-experienced, (b) led overall and running offenses that were below average, (c) led passing offenses that were average, and (d) led overall offenses that did not get worse later in the season.

Now, let's look at how Raye ranks individually amongst his OC brethren (In both tables, see the columns beginning with "OC"). Across the two tables, it's clear that Tom Moore has had the most success of any current OC in the NFL, and equally clear that Ron Turner has taken more naked pictures of Lovie Smith than any current OC in the NFL. Seriously, how does that guy still have a job after 4 years of Hostler-esque offense? That's a question for Windy City Gridiron's resident statistician I guess. Anyway, back to the task at hand...

It appears that Raye's ranking among current OCs depends on which table you're looking at. In the DVOA stats table (i.e., the first one), he ranks in the bottom half in every DVOA category. In the DVOA rankings table (i.e., the second one), he ranks in the top half in 3 of the 5 categories. Essentially, his offenses have performed worse than those of most other current OCs, but have performed better than those of most other NFL teams during the seasons he was OC. How the (site decorum) does that happen?

Well, the explanation is that Raye's previous experiences as an OC were during NFL seasons characterized by low offensive efficiency league-wide, whereas most current NFL OCs have previous experience during seasons characterized by high offensive efficiency league-wide. This is totally a byproduct of the fact that Raye's previous OC jobs occurred before most of the current OCs got their first OC job (remember that 3-year average experience?). In other words, comparing Raye to the other current OCs is like comparing Barry Bonds to Babe Ruth: you have to consider the era. Therefore, in Raye's case, the rankings suggest that he was a better OC in his era than most current OCs are in theirs. Not sure that's exactly a good thing, but at least it's something.

THE REVOLVING DOOR

It's common knowledge that the 49ers' OC position has had a revolving door since Mooch got fired. Not surprisingly then, limiting the likelihood that the OC is going to bolt for a head coaching position after Year 1 seems to have been another qualification that Singletary weighed heavily. Raye certainly fits that criterion. That's all well and good, but how does Raye compare to the last 6 49er OCs in terms of that minor detail called "performance previous to being hired?" Below is a table showing the relevant DVOA stats and rankings. Jim Hostler is omitted because he had no previous OC experience (good call, Nolan!), whereas Ted Tollner's SD stats and Norv Turner's DAL stats are omitted because they came before the DVOA era.

OC

EXP

TOTAL

TRK

TRKIMPYR1

WEIGHT

WRK

PASS

PRK

RUSH

RRK

VAR

VRK

Martz

3

4.7%

15.3

12

2.2%

16.3

14.7%

11.7

-9.9%

18.3

7.7%

19.7

Turner, N.

6

-2.2%

16.3

11.5

-6.2%

19.7

-2.6%

17.3

-2.5%

16.7

7.6%

19.3

McCarthy

5

-2.4%

19.4

11

-2.1%

17.0

-0.7%

17.0

-4.3%

17.8

6.4%

13.8

RAYE

12

-0.6%

14.3

-5.3

-0.7%

14.0

0.9%

16.0

-2.9%

13.8

8.3%

20.2

This table tells us a few things about Raye's qualifications at the time he was hired. First, Raye was more experienced than any OC hired since the Mooch era. Second, the unknown Raye actually compared pretty favorably to his well-known predecessors. He was 1st in total DVOA ranking, 2nd to Martz in total and pass DVOA, 2nd to Turner in rush DVOA, and 2nd to McCarthy in weighted-to-total DVOA difference. Finally, Raye's main drawback (once again) was that offenses had gotten worse during the first season at his previous stops, whereas Martz, Turner, and McCarthy had ushered in offensive revolutions at their previous stops.

That's it for now. Make sure to check back tomorrow morning for Part 2, in which I'll answer Question 5. TO BE CONTINUED...

 

**DVOA statistics used to produce this article were obtained from Football Outsiders.

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