July 26, 2011
The NFL Offseason is officially under way! For a comprehensive look at what actually happened during this cruel and unusual lockout (I know it didn’t miss any games but it was still very stressful!), please see Peter King’s MMQB.
As training camps start to open, undrafted free agents are signed, and free agent negotiations begin, I will continue my preview today by power ranking coaches. As I said yesterday, these rankings will be somewhat correlative because it is pretty difficult to differentiate between the two. New coaches and GMs will be ranked last because of the disadvantage they are at with the shortened offseason.
32. Mike Munchak – Tennessee Titans
Munchak has served as the franchise’s offensive line coach since 1997 when it was the Tennessee Oilers. I feel like his name makes him sound like a recurring character in a fast food commercial or Pacman’s brother or something.
32. Pat Shurmur – Cleveland Browns
Shurmur was the offensive coordinator for the Rams the last two seasons after serving as quarterbacks coach for the Eagles for ten years. I am not quite sure why the Browns fired Eric Mangini. I once wrote that Mangini could perhaps win more games by being less douchey, and he actually seemed to take the advice (I of course take full credit). The Browns went 5-11 last year but were one of those good bad teams that just seemed to blow close games late. I felt like they were on the way up and I don’t know if it was the best decision to fire the coach heading into what was of course going to be a shortened offseason.
32. Ron Rivera (Carolina Panthers)
Rivera was the defensive coordinator for the Chargers the last three seasons and held this position with the Bears in 2004-2006. Not necessarily due to any fault of Rivera, the Panthers are going to struggle this season. Quite possibly, the only time they will be featured on the Red Zone Channel will be when they are on defense.
32. Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco 49ers)
Harbaugh is the latest example of heralded college coach to get a huge contract in the NFL despite a mountain of evidence to prove that this doesn’t work. Pete Carroll’s Seahawks had a decent season in an awful division last year and somehow won a playoff game but besides that every college coach since Jimmy Johnson has failed miserably in the pros (see Steve Spurrier, Dennis Erickson, and Butch Davis to name a few). Harbaugh may buck this trend but if I were building an NFL franchise I would look for experienced coordinators to make head coaches as opposed to looking into the college ranks.
28. John Fox (Denver Broncos)
Fox is with a new team but at least he has previous experience as a head coach. It will be interesting to see how he and Tim Tebow work together.
27. Hue Jackson (Oakland Raiders)
Jackson was the team’s offensive coordinator last season so that side of the ball shouldn’t see too much of a shift. Judging by recent history, though, I wouldn’t expect him to be the Raiders’ head coach for too long; Jackson is the sixth Raiders head coach since Jon Gruden left after the 2001 season. Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin, and Tom Cable have all come and gone since.
25 (tie). Chan Gailey (Buffalo Bills)
If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone don’t say it at all (note: I will be breaking this rule in a couple slots when it is Mike Shanahan’s turn).
25 (tie). Gary Kubiak (Houston Texans)
There is approximately a 100% chance that Kubiak would have been fired if the league was not headed into a lockout this offseason.
24. Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals)
I would say the same for him as Kubiak if the Bengals had a real general manager and a real organization but that’s not the case so I’m not really sure. I wouldn’t be inspired by him if I were a Bengals fan though.
23. Mike Shanahan (Washington Redskins)
I might have him ranked too high on account of his two Super Bowl rings in the 90s. Shanahan is a complete megalomaniac with no sense of self-awareness or ability to relate to this generation of players. Prior to last season, Shanahan had the Redskins trade a 2nd round pick for Donovan McNabb. McNabb played a lot like anybody would have expected him to, which is to say as a decent leader but generally inaccurate, completing 58.3% of his passes (his career average is 58.9%). Shanahan benched McNabb for Rex Grossman and now plans to install John Beck or Matt Leinart (he may be available) as the starter.
Instead of figuring out a way to use Albert Haynesworth as a wrecking ball, Shanahan isolated and benched him. With Haynesworth and McNabb, Shanahan has shown a unique willingness to lose battles amidst losing the war. I would not be surprised if the Redskins quit on Shanahan sometime around Week 4.
22. Tony Sparano (Miami Dolphins)
Sparano would have been fired before this season if a) Jim Harbaugh had accepted the Dolphins job, or b) if there wasn’t a lockout.
21. Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona Cardinals)
Whisenhunt seems like kind of a dick, as many football coaches do. Anyone have an opinion on him? If the Cardinals get Kevin Kolb, they are definitely contenders in the NFC West.
20. Todd Haley (Kansas City Chiefs)
Haley is a good offensive mind but also an egomaniac/douche. I think the Chiefs generally have a good infrastructure to build on, at least on offense, though.
19. Leslie Frazier (Minnesota Vikings)
The Vikings were smart to fire Brad Childress in the middle of the season last year to get Frazier some experience with authority and game management before the shortened offseason. The Vikings would probably be best served in the long run by liquidating their assets and rebuilding this season, though.
17 (tie). Jason Garrett (Dallas Cowboys)
Like the Vikings, the Cowboys were smart to install Garrett as head coach in the middle of last season. After starting 1-7 under Wade Philips, the Cowboys finished the season at 5-3 with Garrett in command. I would have him ranked higher if he had a full training camp to further acclimate himself.
17 (tie). Jim Schwartz (Detroit Lions)
Although the Lions went 6-10 last season, it was a hard fought 6-10. They appear to be trended upwards as a franchise and project to have an utterly dominant defensive line. Playing them twice a season will no longer be a cakewalk for the Vikings, Bears, and Packers.
16. Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville Jaguars)
I am not sure whether Del Rio would still have his job without the lockout but here we are. Has a team been more consistently mediocre than the Jaguars during Del Rio’s tenure? In his eight years as head coach, the Jaguars are 65-63 in the regular season and 1-2 in the playoffs.
15. Steve Spagnuolo (St. Louis Rams)
The defensive coordinator of the 2007 Super Bowl champion New York Giants seems to be building a solid foundation in St. Louis. The Rams should continue to improve this season on their gradual ascent from cellar dwellers to contenders.
14. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks)
A year ago I never would have imagined myself ranking Carroll this high but he got the Seahawks into the playoffs and instilled so much irrational confidence in them that they were able to beat the defending champion Saints in the first round. I would imagine that the Seahawks drop back a little bit this year, pending their quarterback situation.
13. Norv Turner (San Diego Chargers)
Turner is officially the last of the group who may have been fired if the Lockout wasn’t coming. He also benefits in the rankings because AJ Smith, despite being a colossal prick (“the Lord of no Rings“), is a great talent evaluator and as I said before it is pretty hard for me to differentiate coaches from their front offices.
12. Lovie Smith (Chicago Bears)
It is to Smith’s great credit that the Bears were able to be one of the last four teams playing last season but have the 16th best quarterback. The bears win ugly but under Smith (63-49 in seven regular seasons), they win more than they lose.
11. Raheem Morris (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Morris guided a Bucs team devoid of name brand talent to a 10-6 record last season, Morris’s second as head coach. He seems to have his team disciplined, hungry, and confident and this, with Josh Freeman’s growth, should bode well for the medium-term franchise’s future.
10. Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts)
I am aware that Jim Caldwell technically holds this title but does anyone doubt that Manning has ultimate, final authority? I am not sure if we will ever see a quarterback double as offensive coordinator to the extent that Manning has again. Jason Whitlock thinks this inhibits Manning in the playoffs. It may or may not; it will be interesting to see if Manning becomes a coach or a broadcaster when he retires.
8 (tie). John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens)
It is hard to figure out how valuable Harbaugh is because Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome is great. Under Harbaugh, the Ravens are 32-16 in the regular season and 4-3 in the playoffs. Like the Falcons, they are disciplined and limit their own mistakes.
8 (tie). Mike Smith (Atlanta Falcons)
Very quietly, the Falcons are 33-15 in the regular season (but 0-2 in the playoffs) under Smith. They play disciplined, fundamental football, forcing opponents’ mistakes while limiting their own. They are perhaps a year or two away from legitimately competing for Super Bowls.
7. Andy Reid (Philadelphia Eagles)
Andy Reid’s issues with clock and game management are well documented. It is incomprehensible that he hasn’t delegated this responsibility yet and will cost the Eagles 1-3 games per season as long as he is the head coach. That being said, the Eagles are 118-73 in the regular season and 10-9 in the playoffs during Reid’s tenure. With such a large sample size, it is clear that Reid has sound game plans and is a solid motivator for his squad.
Over/under: 5,000: Big Macs Reid has consumed in 11 seasons as Eagles head coach. Who ya got?
6. Tom Coughlin (New York Giants)
Coughlin might be ranked too high because of the Giants Super Bowl victory over the Patriots but I think that for now he belongs above Reid, Smith, and Harbaugh.
5. Rex Ryan (New York Jets)
People hate on Rex a lot but his Jets have reached two straight AFC championship games. His players love him and other players want to go to the Jets to play for him. Because people get so annoyed when he speaks, they tend to underrate his ability as both a tactician and motivator.
4. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints)
It’s weird how the Payton/vicodin scandal just kind of went away. I will never understand how some scandals have legs and some don’t.
3. Mike McCarthy (Green Bay Packers)
McCarthy has certainly gone through his own clock management trials and tribulations but the fact of the matter is that he’s got the belt right now and that entitles him to potentially be overrated. Without fail, McCarthy seems to always have the perfect offensive game plan. The Packers seem to love playing for McCarthy but do not abuse him even though he isn’t an unrepentant disciplinarian.
2. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Tomlin is probably the coolest person I know of. He just looks utterly unflappable. Has anything ever upset him? I would do terrible things for his sense of calmness.
1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots)
It doesn’t seem like it but it has now been seven years since the Pats won a Super Bowl. This either means that they are due or that we may need to start re-thinking Brady and Belichick’s stranglehold on the #1 slots.