y making those decisions, though, coaches can have an enormous impact on winning and losing games. All the work a coach puts in during those 80-hour weeks can be for naught if he makes a hyperconservative call and swings his win expectancy negatively by 30 to 40 percent on game day. There’s no other equivalent thing a coach could do during the week that would be similarly damaging, outside of telling his starting quarterback to stay home or preventing anybody from watching film.
Let’s take a step back through the recent history of the four coaches remaining in this year’s playoffs and sort through who we would want on the sidelines if it were our favorite team lining up in the conference championship game.
To be clear, though, this is strictly an analysis of decision-making. We’re not arguing about who does a better job of installing an offense or teaching players fundamentals, because that happens out of view. And with these four, there’s an obvious candidate in first place and an obvious one in last place, even if his team came through despite some sloppy decision-making last week …
Yes, the Falcons are playing much better on defense and have a certain confidence coming off the divisional round, but facing Rodgers and his variety of weapons presents a much bigger challenge. It starts with defending Randall Cobb out of the slot, a task expected to be put in the hands of rookie nickelback Brian Poole in man-to-man situations and perhaps even as part of the zone. Fellow rookie De’Vondre Campbell, a linebacker, expects to be matched up against tight ends Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers, with Cook being the better athlete but Rodgers possessing the better hands.