In Jim Caldwell’s three years as the Detroit Lions coach, he has come under fire for many things. Many are frustrated with his occasional conservative nature managing a game (even though the stats don’t bear that out). Others believe he doesn’t have the football mind to make in-game adjustments. Some are bothered by his say-nothing policy during press conferences.
The biggest complaint of Caldwell, however, is his emotionless demeanor. A lot of fans want to see him wear his emotions on his sleeve, whether he’s celebrating a big play or chastising a player after a mistake.
Then there’s the argument that Caldwell doesn’t get angry at the officials enough. This always struck me as a silly argument. In fact, I wrote about this exact issue over a year ago:
His evidence that intimidation "works" is a study that shows a lot of the reason for home field advantage is referees' tendencies to give the home team more favorable calls. However, Wetzel never relates this evidence back to coaching or how screaming at a referee will somehow pressure the officials into penalizing the other team.
I pointed to Jim Schwartz as evidence that a hot-headed coach didn’t necessarily get more calls in his favor.
However, FiveThirtyEight had an interesting article that provided evidence to the contrary. According to their studies, penalties are called more often in a team’s favor when the play takes place near their bench. Noah Davis explains:
In other words, refs make more defensive pass interference calls on the offensive team’s sideline but more offensive holding calls on the defensive team’s sideline. What’s more, these differences aren’t uniform across the field — the effect only shows up on plays run, roughly, between the 32-yard lines, the same space where coaches and players are allowed to stand during play.
However, FiveThirtyEight never makes the direct correlation between favorable calls and vocal coaches. Still, this is pretty clear evidence that officials can be pressured into making a call from the sidelines. So today’s Question of the Day is:
Would you like to see Jim Caldwell be more vocal on the sidelines?
My answer: No. While officials may be pressured by the sidelines to make a call, let it be the other 60-70 people on the sideline get into the ear of the officials and force that issue. There’s still no evidence that an angrier coach will get more calls in their favor.
Jim Caldwell is a leader out there and he takes pride in leading by example. By not getting too amped up on the sidelines, he is asking his players to do the same. That can help avoid personal foul penalties and allow players to focus on the next play, instead of harping on a missed call.
I get that people want to see coaches and players exhibit the same emotions that they’re feeling at home, but these people have a job to do, and I’d rather have the kind of coach that stays focused rather than tantrums for a small statistical advantage.