Four head coaches to cap during the NFL preseason
How a team fares against the spread during the NFL preseason has more to do with the man calling the shots than the guys making the plays.
Some coaches treat the tune-up schedule like a science experiment, tinkering with the depth chart, lineups and playbooks. Others see the preseason as a chance to build winning momentum before Week 1.
Here’s a look at four NFL coaches: Two who seem to give a hoot during the preseason and two who couldn’t care less about these exhibition games.
Coaches who care
Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins
Year 3 in D.C. is looking up after bringing in rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and getting through the first week of training camp without the usual soap opera. He’s already spilled the beans on Griffin’s expected playing time, aiming for 12 to 20 plays in Week 1, the first half in Week 2, into the third quarter in Week 3 and sitting out the final preseason tilt entirely. Shanahan, going back to his Raiders and Broncos days, has excelled in the preseason with a 47-29 SU career record and a 42-32-2 ATS mark including a 5-3 ATS record in his first two seasons in Washington.
Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions
Schwartz rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but not preseason bettors. His Lions have been kings of the exhibition slate since he took over head coaching duties in 2009. He’s posted a 10-2 SU mark and a 9-3 ATS record in that span, including a perfect 4-0 SU and ATS record in 2011. Detroit has been an underdog in seven of those 12 warm-up tilts. It’s been a rough offseason for Schwartz and the Lions. Detroit overtakes the Bengals in terms of team arrests and the running back situation is up in the air with Jahvid Best still recovering from a concussion suffered last October.
Coaches who don’t
Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
Reid is well known for his disdain for the preseason, posting a 21-31 SU mark since being named head coach of the Eagles back in 1999. That record has produced a 22-28-2 count against the spread, including a 7-13 ATS mark over the past five preseasons. Last year, however, Philadelphia went 3-1 SU and ATS - Reid’s best preseason performance as a head coach – after backup QB Vince Young tagged the Eagles as the “Dream Team”. Needless to say, Philly fell way short when the games started to count. This summer, QB Mike Vick said he believes the Eagles can become the NFL’s next dynasty. Maybe that confidence can carry them again in the preseason.
Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals
Whisenhunt has posted two 0-4 SU preseason campaigns during his first five seasons calling the shots for the Cardinals and owns a 7-13 career win/loss mark in the tune-ups. That has parlayed itself into an 8-11-1 ATS count. Last summer, Arizona went just 1-3 SU but 3-1 ATS and has a shot at more preseason profits thanks to a feverish quarterback battle between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. So while Whisenhunt may not give a rat’s ass about the preseason, his two talented QB options have a lot to prove.