Some of the NFL's best teams have thrived under pressure, defying odds and coming up clutch in close games. So wouldn't it make sense to judge head coaches based on their record in one-score games, when their teams are truly in do-or-die situations? Not necessarily, according to the crew on the Pick Six Podcast (listen below and subscribe here for daily NFL goodness). And there's one current coach who single-handedly proves that's the case: Adam Gase.
Reviewing one-score records from Stats Inc. on Monday's episode, CBS Sports writers Ryan Wilson, John Breech and Sean Wagner-McGough were impressed by the most productive coaches atop the list: Don Shula (121-73-6), Vince Lombardi (49-17-6) and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick (97-69) represent the top three in terms of one-score resumes, with John Madden, Bill Parcells, Chuck Knoll and Bill Walsh -- all Hall of Fame-caliber coaches -- also among the best to lead one-score situations.
The group quickly realized, after inspecting recent seasons, that one-score records were more likely a byproduct, not a cause, of those Hall of Famers' sterling resumes.
"It is hard to gauge coaches on one-score games because a lot of the NFL is just dumb luck," Breech said. "It could be a bounce of a football on a fumble, a quarterback getting hit and an interception going for a pick-six. It's not Bruce Arians' fault that Jameis Winston threw a pick-six in the final game of the season against the Falcons in overtime. In 2018, the Dolphins went 7-1 in one-score games. The Chargers went 6-1. The Cowboys went 9-3."
Gase, who coached the Dolphins from 2016-2018, went 20-6 in one-score games during his time in Miami, Breech added. His .769 winning percentage there would "blow out any other coach on this list." And yet it's clear as day that Gase does not belong in the same conversation as Bill Belichick and Bill Walsh.
"If all you do is win one-score games," Wagner-McGough said, "I don't think that's a sign of a good coach ... I (also) wonder how many of these (top-ranked coaches) were up by 14 and then the other teams scored in garbage time."
So ... is a great record in close games, well, bad? Absolutely not. But chances are, if you're a great head coach, you're going to win plenty of games that aren't close, too. Long-term results are also key; while Gase has been effective in close games over the last four or so seasons, the likes of Belichick and Shula and Madden produced their one-score wins over the course of full careers.