ESPN ranks Cardinals head coach Kingsbury as best 4th down coach

Dec 4, 2021, 8:15 PM
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury watches from the sideline during the first half of his...

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury watches from the sideline during the first half of his team's NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

In a National Football League that is increasingly using fourth down as an opportunity to go for it on offense, the Arizona Cardinals have an advantage in their play caller.

Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury was ranked the best fourth-down decision maker in the NFL in an ESPN article on Wednesday.

All 32 coaches were ranked on three metrics calculated in their current head coaching stint. This means that despite metrics being calculated for five years for some coaches, Kingsbury’s numbers only go back to 2019, his first season with the Cardinals.

The three metrics included in ESPN’s calculation are non-obvious fourth-down error rate, the difference in expected and actual fourth-down conversion rates and the total win probability sacrificed through fourth-down errors.

Two-thirds of the final ranking calculation was based on whether a decision agreed with ESPN’s analytical model. Fourth-down success accounted for the other one-third.

Kingsbury ranked first in the NFL in the difference in expected and actual fourth-down conversion rates at 6.5%. Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer came in second at 5.9%.

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll comes in second in this metric among NFC West head coaches and 13th overall at 0.1%.

Kingsbury is one spot shy of the top in non-obvious fourth-down error rate at 20.2%. New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh topped the list in this metric at 18.8%.

Carroll once again came in second place in the division in this stat. He is ranked ninth in the league at 22.1%.

Finally, Kingsbury came in seventh in the NFL in win probability sacrificed on fourth-down errors at 18.7%.

This time, the Cardinals head coach has some distance between himself and the top-ranked coach in the numbers. That honor belongs to first-year Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni at 10.2%.

Kingsbury once again dominates his fellow NFC west head coaches. San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is next up in the division at 25%, ranking 19th in the league.

Kingsbury is the only coach to rank in the top seven in the NFL in all three metrics. Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur comes closest to reaching that mark, but is ranked eighth with a 22% non-obvious fourth down error rate.

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