The 5 Most Player-Friendly Coaches in the NFL

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystDecember 30, 2011

The 5 Most Player-Friendly Coaches in the NFL

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    The 32 head coaches in the National Football League run the gamut when it comes to personalities.

    From New York Jets head man Rex Ryan's bluster and trash talk to the Patriots' Bill Belichick's Machiavellian machinations, to Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell's unblinking dedication to, well, not blinking...ever.

    However, some head coaches in the NFL seem to have a Midas touch of sorts when it comes to getting their players to buy into whatever it is they're selling. It's those coaches we'll examine here, with the five biggest player-friendly coaches in the NFL.

No. 5: Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Romeo Crennel may only be the interim head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs after Todd Haley was shown the door earlier this year.

    But if the players in Kansas City—who have rallied around the defensive coordinator and former Cleveland Browns head man—have anything to say about it, the job will be his full time.

    In the words of Chiefs star linebacker Tamba Hali, "I think anybody on this team would agree with me, if we can keep Romeo as our head coach here it would be great."

No. 4: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers

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    The players for the San Francisco 49ers certainly seem to have been drinking the Jim Harbaugh Kool-Aid by the bucketful.

    Harbaugh has taken the Niners from 6-10 in 2010 to a 12-3 mark so far in 2011 and the team's first NFC West championship since 2002.

    Quarterback Alex Smith said of the first-year head coach "What I appreciate about him, and it's rare in the NFL, is that he's not so self-aware. He is who he is, and he's not concerned with who's watching him."

No. 3: Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

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    Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has had a reputation as a player's coach for many years.

    It dates back to his first stint in the National Football League with the New York Jets and New England Patriots in the 1990s and blossomed during his time as the head coach at USC.

    Carroll is infamous for pulling pranks on his players during practices and training camp, including this one on Seahawks defensive end Raheem Brock last August.

    According to Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant "Pete’s just a great all-around coach, all-around guy. He makes sure that you’re mentally into the game and he’s just an all-around great teacher."

No. 2: Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Mike Tomlin has been wildly successful as a head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers since taking the reins in 2007.

    He led the Steelers to two Super Bowl appearances and became the youngest head coach in NFL history to hoist the Lombardi Trophy when Pittsburgh downed the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.

    Much of this success can be attributed to Tomlin's ability to inspire loyalty from and motivate his players. 

    Former Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth said "(Tomlin) is definitely a players coach, but at the same time it’s not like by any means he is close to being a pushover. He demands the most from his players and he gets it. He demands respect. He’s one of those guys that when he stands up and talks, everybody listens—a great public speaker. He always says the right thing."

No. 1: Rex Ryan, New York Jets

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    Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets certainly loves the sound of his own voice.  Many may argue that his "face of the franchise" schtick and constant proclamations about how great the Jets are have worn thin, especially in light of the team's struggles this year.

    But there's no doubt that he's very well regarded by most of the 53 men who suit for him every Sunday.

    Ryan regularly tops polls of coaches NFL players would most like to play for.

    An unnamed NFC defensive player was quoted as saying "Rex Ryan. He’s a very player-oriented coach. He knows how to get the most out of his players, and he runs a great style of defense. He coaches with a lot of emotion and that’s what you want. I like that."