Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley was hired away from the Rams due to his ability to recognize defensive talent, put them in a place to succeed, and hire the right people to support Justin Herbert. Staley also represented a move towards a younger, more aggressive mindset in regards to playcalling.
Staley, like many younger coaches, is more willing to go for it on fourth down than some older, more conservative minds. This is likely due to the fact that younger coaches are more inclined to lean on what some advanced metrics tell them about the probability of success in any given situation.
The newest wave of coaches that have been brought in, of which neophyte New York Giants head man Brian Daboll is a member, have fully embraced the idea of being cavalier on fourth down. Daboll plans to run the Giants in the same way Staley runs the Chargers.
Daboll was quoted as saying he is "a big believer in analytics" and hints that he will base many of his in-game decisions on the data being fed to him. Staley reinvigorated the Chargers following a period of stagnation under Anthony Lynn with his daredevil style, and it seems like more teams are liking what young minds like him and Sean McVay are doing.
Brian Daboll might coach like Chargers' Brandon Staley.
The Chargers were third in fourth-down attempts last season with 34, trailing only the Bears (36) and Lions (41). However, while both of those two also-rans failed to find much success by converting on just 41% and 51%, respectively, of those calls, the Chargers were much better. LA led the league with 22 fourth-down conversions, a 64.7% success rate.
Of the top 10 teams in fourth down conversion rate last season, seven of them made the playoffs. The three who missed were the Ravens (who saw Lamar Jackson get hurt), the Colts (who were a Week 18 game against Darrell Bevell away from making it), and Staley's Chargers. That's a strong correlation.
It doesn't matter if you come from Bill Belichick's tree or the McVay-Shanahan system currently taking over the league. Aggressiveness and trusting your players to get the job done, be it via a gut feeling or backed by data, is a prerequisite.
It remains to be seen if Daboll will be a success in the NFL. After all, Staley got incredibly lucky when a franchise quarterback like Herbert dropped into his lap. However, the philosophy that guided Staley in his debut season appears to be taking over even more corners of the NFL world.