Last week we looked at the most important position in football the quarterbacks. This week we take a look at the second most important position to an organization the Head Coach. For those new to my way of ranking I use all 32 teams and rank 32 – 1 (worst to best). Again any list is debatable and I welcome a healthy debate, but when making a list a common criteria must be explained to give credence to the ranking lists (Just look at the Jaws QB list on ESPN… no criteria and some of his picks are mind boggling). That being said, here is the criteria for my coaching lists:
1. Super Bowl Victories and Appearances
2. Previous Coaching Tenures
3. Latest Coaching Season
4. Coaching Staff
Using these four criteria I have broken down all 32 Head Coaches for the 2013 season and lets get it started… Let the debate begin
32 Gus Bradley – Jax –
Bradley comes to Jacksonville from Seattle as the defensive coordinator. Jacksonville has been a revolving door of coaches since the days of Tom Coughlin when the team was coming out of expansion. Bradley has a lot of work to do, but if he makes the Jaguars relevant in football again that will be quite the accomplishment for his resume.
31 Rob Chudzinski – Cle –
Chudzinski comes to Cleveland from Carolina where he was given most of the credit for the rise of Cam Newton in 2011. The problem is the offense in Cleveland is far more inept than that Carolina offense and the lack of skill players may hurt him in the short term.
30 Dennis Allen – Oak –
Allen has completed the task of purging the Raiders roster of the disasters that the franchise has made in the past decade. He now has the even more daunting task of building this team up. Hopefully there is patience as the Raiders work through this roster and try to get back to the prominence they once had.
29 Doug Marrone – Buf –
Marrone did not have to travel far from his previous job at Syracuse University to his new offices in Buffalo. His ability to rebuild Syracuse from the depths where that program was previous is the appeal of having Marrone in Buffalo to lead this organization back to the team they once were.
28 Chip Kelly – Phi –
The most interesting story in the NFL for the 2013 season will be to see how Chip Kelly’s high octane offensive style at Oregon will translate to the NFL. Kelly has the right roster to run his system, the question will be if he can keep his players specially his quarterback healthy enough to make a run in 2013.
27 Mike McCoy – SD –
McCoy has been the offensive coordinator in Denver for the past two seasons. He is seen as the guy that simplified the offense for Tim Tebow in 2011, and was seen as a guy that allowed Peyton Manning to overhaul the offense in 2012. He will have an even bigger task in getting San Diego back on track, but the good news is that he has a stud QB in Phillip Rivers, the bad news is Rivers has slipped the last two seasons.
26 Marc Sweatman – Chi –
Sweatman is the NFL version of being the bridesmaid and never the bride. He has been an offensive consultant on some of the best offenses in the history of the NFL from San Francisco under Walsh and Sieffert to Minnesota under Dennis Green. He took his offensive prowess to Canada where he lead his team to back to back Grey Cups, and the Bears are hoping he can get their offense jump started next year.
25 Bruce Arians – Arz –
Arians led the Colts to the playoffs after taking over for Chuck Pagano in 2012. He has been given much of the credit for the rise of Big Ben in Pittsburgh and the maturation of Andrew Luck last year. He has a totally different task in Arizona as he gets an old Carson Palmer, but he has the offensive weapons to be successful in the desert.
24 Mike Munchak - Ten –
Munchak took over a terrible Tennessee team two years ago. So far to this point not much has changed. The team is still terrible and not much has changed on the roster. Munchak will have to squeeze a lot out of the roster to even be competitive in 2013.
23 Joe Philbin - Mia –
Philbin’s tenure in Miami will be tied to the quarterback he drafted last year, Ryan Tannehill. Philbin has a great resume as the Packers offensive coordinator but now he is running his own team and the Miami front office has given him the horses to take off. How he manages all the new faces will tell us more about his coaching tenure.
22 Greg Schiano - TB –
Schiano has put his mark on the NFL. When his defensive line charged Eli Manning at the end of a game last year on a kneel down play, the Bucs coach was disgraced by the media, but the coach stayed with the plan and took it head on. If his team continues playing with that kind of heart, big things can happen in Tampa Bay.
21 Ron Rivera – Car -
Rivera and his staff have been under fire from their own quarterback in how they approach the game. He was seen as a darling in the coaching world when Cam Newton was a rookie, but after last season and the slump of his star QB, his job will rely on riding his star and how far Cam brings this team will tell us where Rivera and the Panthers end up.
20 Jim Schwartz – Det –
Schwartz has brought a sense of respectability to a team that he took over after a 0 – 16 season. He did a great job in 2011 bringing his team to the playoffs, but the wheels came off last year. He is going to have to show some kind of competitiveness this season to save his job for the future. If things do not change quickly in Detroit Schwartz will only be remembered for throwing a challenge flag that caused a play not to be reviewed on Thanksgiving Day.
19 Rex Ryan – NYJ –
Two straight AFC Championship game appearances, but since then everything has come crashing down in New York. Rex has not learned how or when to keep his mouth shut and his allegiance to Mark Sanchez has put his neck on the chopping block. The good news for Rex is that he has the blessing of the owner, but that could fade if the Jets do not figure out some sort of offense.
18 Jeff Fisher - StL –
Fisher is one of the most accomplished coaches to never win a Super Bowl. His teams always fight hard and always play sound football and fight all season long. His roster is improving in St. Louis but the bad news is that he is stuck in the NFC West with two stud teams in front of him.
17 Chuck Pagano – Ind –
It is hard to assess Chuck Pagano’s first year as leader in Indy. His team made the playoffs, but after week four Pagano had to take a leave of absence due to a diagnosis of treatable Leukemia. The good news is that he has been given a clean bill of health for the 2013 season and it will be interesting to see how he does without Bruce Arians to run the offense.
16 Jason Garrett – Dal –
Jason Garrett’s tenure in Dallas has been scrutinized and no one has been a bigger critic of his than I am. Two straight 8-8 seasons and late season collapses have seen the Cowboys making major changes and stripping him of his coaching responsibilities. He has looked befuddled when making in game decisions, his time out to ice his own kicker will never be lived down until he leads this team to the playoffs.
15 Gary Kubiak - Hou -
Kubiak was on the hot seat in Houston until his team finally broke through the mold. While most of the success of his past in Denver goes to the head coach he worked for, He still gets credit for that offensive system which has taken time to develop in Houston. He now need to take the next step and get more than one home game in Houston and eventually reach a championship game with the roster they have built.
14 Marvin Lewis - Cin –
No one has thrived under more scrutiny during their coaching tenure than Lewis. Ever since taking the Cincinnati job he has always taken heat either for performance on the field or his players performances off the field. His recent success on the field has been viewed as amazing, but he has to take that next step and finally win a game in the post season, not just get there.
13 Pete Carroll – Sea -
Carroll made a calculated decision to leave USC where he was viewed as a king among men. His departure from Southern California is still under scrutiny for the sanctions he ran from, but he has lead Seattle to two playoff runs in two years. His tenure with the New England Patriots still is an anchor around his neck but with each season of success in Seattle that anchor has less and less weight.
12 Leslie Frazier - Min –
Frazier took a team that was abslutely terrible and made the decision to give the ball to his MVP running back rather than his floundering QB. They have gotten plenty of assets in Minnesota to contend and how this team improves from here on out will show us where Frazier ends up on this list at the end of his tenure.
11 Mike Smith - Atl –
Smith walked into a firestorm after the Bobby Petrino debacle. He has led the Falcons to the playoffs in 3 out of 4 seasons and they finally won a playoff game this past season. They have the team around them to make a big splash, but they will have to deal with a fully loaded Saints team this year.
10 John Fox - Den -
Fox has a great resume in Carolina leading them to a Super Bowl appearance only to be snake bitten by the leg of Adam Vinateri. In Denver we have seen him make decisions that have brought successive playoff appearances. With Peyton Manning at the helm his resume will only get better in Denver, but they need to cash in with a Super Bowl to make this pay off.
9 Andy Reid – KC –
Yes his tenure in Philadelphia ended in disaster, but when looking back at its entirety you have to give Reid a lot of credit for making the Eagles a powerhouse in the NFC East. He has a lot of talent to work with in Kansas City, and will need to squeeze all he can out of that talent to challenge in the AFC West.
8 Mike Shannahan - Was
Shannahan built his resume on the back of his championships in Denver. Now that he has a quarterback in Washington we will see if Shannahan can manage to keep RG3 on the field and win big in D.C. just like he did in Denver.
7 Jim Harbaugh – SF
Harbaugh has taken San Francisco back to the top of the mountain in the NFC. He has brought a sense of accountability back to the Bay Area and his decision to go to Colin Kapernick rather than stay with Alex Smith will be judged in the coming years.
6 Mike McCarthy – GB
Green Bay’s play caller and leader has kept Green Bay at the top of the NFC North and is one of the reasons that Green bay is a favorite every year to be the NFC participant in the Super Bowl.
5 Mike Tomlin – Pit –
Tomlin is a no nonsense guy and the perfect image for a Steelers coach. Injuries have been the downfall of his teams in recent years, and his decision two years ago to hold Ryan Clark out of a playoff game for the safety of the player over the need for the team is one of the reasons that players love to play for this guy because they know he cares about their well being and not results. Tomlin has a Super Bowl trophy and another appearance on his resume and with the way the Steelers do business do not expect them to be down for long.
4 John Harbaugh – Bal -
Harbaugh took over a Ravens team that had a great base of players but was floundering under the previous regime. He has come in and has made the Ravens a playoff team in every season under his watch. Oh yeah they are also the reigning Super Bowl Champions. The most interesting part of Harbaugh’s resume is when you look at the team he left, Philadelphia since he left them as a Special Teams coach, their fall and the rise of the Ravens is the best feather in the Harbaugh cap.
3 Sean Payton - NO –
The drop off of the Saints last season without their leader and play caller was a realization of how great Sean Payton really is. His team was a Super Bowl contender but without him to be there to control the team every aspect of the game was down. Payton is a great in-game mind and a great motivator, expect the Saints to bounce back with authority this season as Payton looks to stick it to the NFL and Goddell for making him sit out a year.
2 Tom Coughlin – NYG –
Coughlin seems to be the only kryptonite to Belicheck and the Patriots beating him in the Super Bowl twice… Pretty amazing that both come from the Parcells coaching tree and both approach the game the same way. Coughlin has become less rigid in his handling with players, but cannot afford to miss the playoffs again if he wants to stay in this spot at season’s end.
1 Bill Belicheck – NE –
Belicheck has won 3 of 5 Super Bowls in New England and is the poster child for success at the NFL Level. His tenure as defensive coordinator under Bill Parcells also gives him a huge edge over most in the coaching profession.