Head coach and quarterback continuity - The ever important third year

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From the FanPosts -Joel

So much thought and conversation has gone into the term 'continuity' in the NFL. Particularly head coach and quarterback continuity. There is a thought that the third season a head coach and quarterback have together is THE make or break season. What really happens to these third season head coach / quarterback pairs in the NFL? Does the third year mean good things will happen on average? Or is it all just a bunch of talk without any real fact behind it? This article will detail a history of 'third seasons' for continuous head coach / quarterback pairs in the NFL. This obviously applies to the Chiefs current situation because they are going into their third season with HC / QB continuity.

First let's lay out some ground rules. The data chosen for this article begins with HC / QB pairs that started on or after 2000. For instance, Rich Gannon and Jon Gruden were not taken into the equation in this study; this is due to the fact they began their pairing in 1999. Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid have been taken into consideration since their pairing began in the 2000 season. To meet the requirements of a 'third year pair' a QB and a HC have to be entering their third season and have two continuous seasons together. A QB may start for a team before the HC arrives and a HC may start coaching for a team before the QB arrives. For instance: Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers were included in the statistics although McCarthy coached for two seasons before Aaron Rodgers began starting for the Packers; However, Rodgers and McCarthy had three continuous seasons together after Rodgers hit his third consecutive year of starting. Hopefully this makes sense. For anyone who would like to look at the data gathered use the link below. Please note this data was compiled by hand and there may be a small chance some slight errors. The statistics were compiled using Pro Football Reference. If anyone sees an error please let me know and I can correct them.

The data: Third Year QB / HC Continuity in the NFL

Is continuity in the third year a good thing in terms of winning games? The first statistic shown will be the average wins for each team in the NFL that met the above criteria as they entered their third season of HC / QB continuity.

Average Wins Since 2000: 9.74 Average Losses Since 2000: 6.25

The average amount of wins for teams entering their third year of continuity is 9.75. This is a positive for the Chiefs entering next season. Before we move forward I would like to add a disclaimer: Sorry for the number of donut charts. Now that we've gotten that taken care of lets look at playoff hopes for teams entering their third year of continuity.

Percentage of 3rd Year Continuity Teams Making Playoffs

As can be seen 61.5 percent of teams with continuity made the playoffs and 38.5 percent of teams did not. To be exact since 2000 24 / 39 teams have made the playoffs entering their third season of HC / QB continuity. Once again things are looking hopeful for the Chiefs next season.

Let's take a look at two more charts. These involve how deep teams have made it into the playoffs. The first graph will represent the count of teams and how deep they made it into the playoffs.


This next chart will provide percentages for teams since 2000 and how deep they made it into the playoffs.


As can be seen the teams with continuity that make the playoffs have most frequently lost in the divisional round. As Chiefs fans we want nothing more than to win a playoff game and eventually a Super Bowl. Let's take a look at the number of playoff wins each team with third year continuity was able to compile. This is a HUGE stat for Chiefs fans. I want to know what teams have done in the past in terms of winning playoff games. Please say this chart looks good...


..... So you're saying there's a chance?!?! From this graph one can deduce that the teams with third year continuity since 2000 have won one or more playoff games 39.5 percent of the time. YES!!!! Seeing as how in any given NFL season at MOST 25 percent of the teams win playoff games, a value of 39.5% is very attractive. This is a 14.5 percent increase from the highest percentage case of NFL teams that win a playoff game. A 14.5 percent INCREASE!!! ... breathe, breathe.

Lastly let's talk a moment about head coaches. What happens to these coaches after the third season? Are they likely to keep coaching, are they likely to get fired? How long do they usually keep coaching? How often do they get fired? Below is yet ANOTHER donut chart to help show these results. Are you tired of these yet?


It appears the majority of coaches since 2000 stick around for a while. 41 percent of head coaches start three or more seasons for their respective club. This is an impressive number for a league where head coach turnover is as regular as a prune addict. Interesting stat: Of the 15.4 percent of head coaches who were fired at the end of the season their average win percentage was .462. This equates to 7.4 wins. I'll put money on the Chiefs keeping Andy Reid around if he went 7 - 9 next season. However I'll hit this point again in a poll at the end of the article.

So ... we're done! Given the data shown in the donut charts, its hard not to be optimistic for the Chiefs next season. Teams entering their third season of HC / QB continuity have an average of 9.74 wins per season, have made the playoffs 60.5 percent of the time, have won a playoff game 39.5 percent of the time, and also kept their head coach around for at least the beginning of three more seasons 41 percent of the time. Things are looking up for our Chiefs. Of course I didn't have to tell you this, I'm sure you already knew. But it's good to have some statistics that back up the feelings sometimes.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.