New England Patriots assistant Dante Scarnecchia Retires: Built NFL's Most Dominant Offensive Line
Longtime New England Patriots assistant coach Dante Scarnecchia announced last week that he’s retiring, after a legendary career on NFL sidelines that spanned 32 seasons. He turns 66 on February 14.
Scarnecchia spent 30 of his 32 NFL seasons as a Patriots assistant, starting in 1982 under Ron Meyer, and surviving five additional coaching administrations.
His career included the best and worst of the organization’s history (Raymond Berry, Dick MacPherson, Bill Parcells, Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick). Scarnecchia was the offensive line assistant for the Indianapolis Colts in 1989 and 1990.
He was on the sideline for all seven of New England's Super Bowl appearances (1985, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011).
Scarnecchia served as New England’s offensive line coach since 1999, a period during which he built it into the best and most consistent front five in the NFL – as measured by the Cold, Hard Football Facts Offensive Hog Index Index, one of our favorite Quality Stats.
We do not have Offensive Hog Index data dating back to 1999. We have it only from 2004, our debut season.
But over that 10-season period (2004-13), Scarnecchia’s offensive line was consistently the best in football, based upon annual average rank on the Offensive Hog Index.
NFL'S BEST OFFENSIVE LINES, BASED UPON OFFENSIVE HOG INDEX (2004-13)
Folks say football games are won in the trenches. So perhaps it's no coincidence that the Patriots produced 13 more wins than any other team in football during this period of Offensive Hog dominance, an average of more than one win per season better than any other team in football.
Scarnecchia's Offensive Hogs powered record offense
The Patriots in this decade also became the first an only franchise in pro football history to score 500 points four different seasons: 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Only 10 other teams have topped 500 points in a season once, and only three others have done it in multiple seasons:
- Denver Broncos (1998, 2013)
- New Orleans Saints (2009, 2011)
- St. Louis Rams (1999, 2000, 2001)
Our Offensive Hog Index tends to show bias toward teams with great quarterbacks, because it credits units that help passers keep down their mistakes. So it's no surprise to see at the top of the list teams largely led over this period by Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, three future Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
Still, the OHI also takes into account sack percentage, running ability and proficiency keeping drives alive.
And over this period, no Offensive Hogs in football were better and more consistent than Scarnecchia's unit in New England.
In fact, the Patriots topped the indicator twice and finished in the Top 10 of the Offensive Hog Index in nine of the last 10 years. The only exception was 2005, when the team went just 10-6, New England's worst record of the past decade.
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