Commentary

Monday Night Football preview

Examining the coaching styles of Tom Coughlin and Wade Phillips

Updated: October 24, 2010, 11:30 AM ET
By Aaron Schatz | Football Outsiders
Tom Coughlin and Wade PhillipsGetty ImagesTom Coughlin and Wade Phillips are coaching teams going in opposite directions.

The Dallas Cowboys do not take the field this Monday night on a high note. Their dream of a Super Bowl season has been left in the dust by a 1-4 start. One of the biggest problems is the Cowboys' huge penalty total -- only the Detroit Lions have drawn more flags (including offsetting or declined penalties) than the Cowboys' 63. That lack of discipline has a lot of fans calling out laid-back head coach Wade Phillips for not instilling the proper level of self-control in his players.

Of course, this is a complaint you will rarely hear about the coach on the other sideline Monday night, the New York Giants' Tom Coughlin. Coughlin's disciplinarian ways (famously epitomized by his history of fining players for not being early enough to meetings) are specifically supposed to produce teams that make fewer mistakes, with fewer turnovers and fewer penalties.

That makes this week a good time to ask a question that's been bugging me for a while: Do certain coaches have an effect on whether players draw fewer penalties than they would otherwise?