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Mike Solari may not be able to fix the red zone rushing issues

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Kansas City Chiefs 2006 Headshots

Wednesday I looked at Mike Solari’s history of happening to be in charge of the offensive line for teams that see their head coaches fired. Obviously, the fact that four of the last five seasons in which Solari has been the sole offensive line coach for a team have seen the head coach fired likely says more about the teams that have hired Solari than about his ability to get a coach fired. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Solari was brought in to improve the Seattle Seahawks’ running game, particularly in goal line and short yardage situations, and that is an area where his history is ugly.

Without beating around the bush, let’s get right into the data. Thanks to Football Outsiders we have ready access to a team’s rushing success rate in short yards (defined as two yards to go or less) and goal to go situations. Thus, we can see where teams coached by Solari have ranked relative to the rest of the league in this category. Thus, here is the data for the last ten seasons for teams on which Solari has been an offensive line coach.

Short yardage and goal to go rushing success rates for teams coached by Mike Solari

Season Team Solari Success Rate Rank
Season Team Solari Success Rate Rank
2017 New York Giants 50% 29
2016 New York Giants 63% 14
2015 Green Bay Packers* 61% 21
2014 San Francisco 49ers 48% 32
2013 San Francisco 49ers 55% 28
2012 San Francisco 49ers 66% 12
2011 San Francisco 49ers 51% 29
2010 San Francisco 49ers 56% 23
2009 Seattle Seahawks 56% 29
2008 Seattle Seahawks 76% 4
*Assistant offensive line coach

That’s not a great history of success. That’s actually a pretty terrible history and basically the opposite of success. League average in this metric will fluctuate between 63 and 65%, and so in the last ten years of the teams Solari has coached, seven have come in below average, with his offensive lines landing in the bottom five in the league in half of those ten seasons.

However, I’m certain there will be commenters who will adamantly defend Solari and are certain that things could not be worse than the 2017 Seahawks running game. Thus, let’s quickly go ahead and compare how many red zone rushing touchdowns NFL teams have generated over the last two seasons, as those are the seasons in which the Hawks rushing game has suffered.

Red zone rushing touchdowns by team 2016-2017

Team Touchdowns
Team Touchdowns
Dallas 38
Buffalo 33
New Orleans 32
New England 32
Tennessee 29
Atlanta 28
San Francisco 28
Carolina 28
Baltimore 25
Pittsburgh 23
Philadelphia 23
Indianapolis 23
Los Angeles Rams 22
Chicago 22
Minnesota 22
Cincinnati 22
Arizona 21
Cleveland 21
Washington 21
Jacksonville 20
Kansas City 20
Oakland 20
Green Bay 19
Detroit 18
New York Jets 18
San Diego/Los Angeles 17
Denver 17
Tampa Bay 15
Houston 14
Miami 13
Seattle 11
New York Giants 10

Yes, that’s right, after the Seahawks fired Tom Cable in part because of the team’s red zone rushing issues, his replacement happens to have been the offensive line coach for the only team in the NFL which produced fewer red zone rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons. To me, that doesn’t seem like the type of change that will bring about marked improvement.

In short, if Solari was brought in to fix the team’s red zone rushing issues, the metrics available from the teams he has coached in the past tend to indicate that those issues may continue to be issues in 2018. To give a glimpse into why that could be, I’ll simply turn to Brian Baldinger and let him explain some of the issues with the running game of the 2017 New York Giants.

Maybe Solari fixes the running game and maybe he doesn’t, obviously at this point in the offseason we don’t know. All I know is that the data on the offenses coached by Brian Schottenheimer and the offensive lines coached by Mike Solari isn’t flattering, so I certainly have serious concerns about 2018.