Dirk Koetter is the NFL’s top fourth-down risk taker

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In September, Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter expressed an aversion to rolling the dice on fourth down during a season-opening win over the Saints, explaining that going for it and failing becomes the recipe for getting fired. For Koetter, that was the exception.

According to the NFL, Koetter has the highest rate of going for it on fourth down for all coaches from 2008 through Week 12 of the 2018 season. Koetter and Eagles coach Doug Pederson are the only two who are north of 60 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum are former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell and former Titans and Rams coach Jeff Fisher. The full chart is here.

As Pederson recently explained it to PFT, he constantly thinks about fourth-down scenarios, engaging in the analysis even when watching college games on TV.

“I think what you’re seeing is a mix of gut feeling, a little analytics, and trusting the players,” Pederson said.

It would be a mistake to ignore the numbers, but it also would be a mistake to rely only on the numbers. Plenty of factors go into the decision, and each decision is made quickly in real time. The more scenarios a coach has considered, the greater the chance that a quick and confident will be made every time.

17 responses to “Dirk Koetter is the NFL’s top fourth-down risk taker

  1. This is a little deceiving. That chart is referencing coaches that go for it on 4th and 1, not 4th down in general. Koetter has gone for north of 60% on 4th and 1, not 4th down in general which I knew wasn’t right. There is a big difference there.

  2. Koetter is a clown coach. He should have been fired with Mike Smith. If they had a middle of the pack defense and cut ties with that garbage kicker they would be fighting for a playoff spot right now.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if they went after a QB next season despite Jameis being the least of their problems.

  3. That’s what happens when you are on the hot seat & fighting for your job…he truly has nothing to lose now

  4. It would be nice to see this controlled for field position and other variables. Fourth-and-one from your 1 is much different than fourth-and-one from their 1, and then there’s everything in between. Nonetheless, it’s pretty intriguing and fun to check out. Thanks to whoever put it together.

  5. jppt1974 says:
    December 4, 2018 at 11:37 pm
    Indeed both men are daring. Got to give them credit for taking risks. You can’t play too safe or conservative.
    Strange I heard a story on NPR this AM stating the same thing about coaches not taking unnecessary risks. The head scratcher to me on this topic is that I’m a Patriots fan. BB’s recipe for unprecedented sustained success has literally been limit risk. Limit it to zero if possible. Make the other team take the risks. “Just do your job” and make them take the risk. Never help your opponent if you don’t have to.

  6. Mostly Dirk Koetter is mostly conservative in his calls. However the OC, Todd Monken is not. Todd called the first couple of games before Dirk took back play calling. There is a slight difference. Tood is not afraid to throw the long ball to at the beginning of a series. Dirk doesn’t. So it’s a little surprising to know Dirk Koetter is the number one coach to go for it on 4th down. I sure football circumstances contribute to it a lot, like being behind in the score and having an unreliable kicker. There are times Dirk is too conservative for his own good.

  7. Both are terrible coach’s and this is only one of many reasons why. Penderson’s problem is the real brains of the operation left and took his show to IND over the off-season, Koetter’s problem is that he is just a horrible HC who has no business in the NFL. At least Doug Pederson is an average coach, Koetter isnt even that.

  8. one of 2018 nfl’s biggest disappointments and having been one for years, it’s not exactly a benchmark for success… Possibly if it were ran by a qb that is actually a good one who doesn’t constantly put them in so many 4th down attempts or so far behind turning the ball over…

  9. I guess at some point, it would take a maverick coach to change things but I always felt like if you’re between the 45 yard lines and it’s 4th and 5 or less, you should go for it. The rules favor the offense and you’re likely to get the pass interference, illegal contact, or whatever. I’m not saying to not have a punter on your roster, but I’m surprised teams do not take chances more often.

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