The 14 Worst Assistant Coaches in the NFL Today
Who are the worst assistant coaches or coordinators right now in the NFL? Chances are, if they're among the worst, they only have a slight hold on the job. If you're one of the worst in the league, you're sure to be fired sooner than later.
What does it take to be one of the worst assistant coaches or coordinators? Your unit gives up the most sacks, or your team has the most dropped passes. Your team gives up the most yards on special teams returns—things like that. Maybe, your unit continues to drop in the rankings year after year. That would be another way to make this list.
Many of the 14 coaches we have identified have made a recent job change. We are still surprised that some of them remain employed in the NFL, but we also know that head coaches tend to be loyal to certain people. There are others who can attribute their longevity in the league to their family name, which might carry some weight in certain circles.
We opened this up to the assistant coaches and the coordinators on 2012 NFL coaching staffs. We had a number of other candidates to consider from 2011, but they were fired and are no longer in the NFL, so we had to trim our list considerably.
On to the presentation.
14) George Edwards
George Edwards used to be the Miami Dolphins linebackers coach from 2005-2009. Three years later, he's coming back to the same job, which is actually as step backwards in his career, as he was the defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills for 2010 and 2011.
The problem was Edwards was a terrible defensive coordinator. The Bills finished No. 24 and No. 26 overall in the two years that Edwards ran the defense for Chan Gailey, so he was relieved of his duties after the 2011 season ended.
The Bills were the worst run defense team in 2010 and improved all the way up to No. 28 in 2011. Edwards has a long history of being a linebackers coach, but somehow, he couldn't figure out a way to get his linebackers to be in a position to stuff the running lanes accurately.
Not only that, but he also had trouble figuring out how to put pressure on the quarterback, as the Bills pass rush was in the bottom 10 both years. While Edwards may be in a position to divulge some insight about the Bills defense to new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, the Bills defense will be much different in 2012 under Dave Wannstedt.
Photo courtesy of Buffalo Bills.com
13) Greg Manusky
In 2010, Greg Manusky was the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. In 2011, he held the same role for the San Diego Chargers. In 2012, he's now the defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts. Three different teams in three years, all as defensive coordinator?
What is it about Manusky that causes teams to keep hiring him, especially for a job as important as defensive coordinator?
In his final three years in San Francisco, Manusky led the 49ers defense to finish No. 13 overall, followed by No. 15, and then, No. 13 again. Respectable ranking, and actually, fairly consistent.
Then, he goes to San Diego for the 2011 season. They had just finished up the 2010 season as the No. 1 overall defense in the NFL, and in one year, they drop down to No. 16 overall. San Diego says adios to Manusky, and then, he gets scooped up by the rebuilding Colts franchise, who finished last year with the No. 25 overall defense in the NFL.
We will see what kind of results Manusky can generate, but I have the feeling that the Colts defense will rank in the 20-30s range in 2012.
12) Raheem Morris
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Raheem Morris was the defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007 and 2008. Both years, the Bucs pass defense was ranked in the top-five overall in the NFL. Turning in two straight solid years of performance helped to convince the Bucs that Morris was ready to take on more duties, so they promoted him to defensive coordinator after the 2008 season ended.
When Jon Gruden was fired, the Bucs promptly promoted Morris again to the vacant head coach position for the 2009 season.
Somebody in the Bucs' front office must have been in charge of interviewing candidates for the head coaching position. You would think that there would have a few questions raised about what are your ideas on run defense, and that's when the bells, whistles and red flags should have been going off, as in "warning, what is wrong with this picture?".
For some reason, Morris didn't feel the need to hire a defensive coordinator, ala Bill Belichick assuming the role of head coach and defensive coordinator. The only problem with his logic is that either the Bucs didn't have the proper personnel to stop the running game, or Morris didn't have enough personal experience in knowing how to stop the run as the defensive coordinator. Was it a case of ego or lack of experience from a defensive coordinator role?
The Bucs defense finished dead last against the run in 2009. In 2010, again, Morris didn't hire a defensive coordinator, and the Bucs finished in the bottom-five at No. 28 against the run. In 2011, the Bucs were back to dead last again against the run without a designated defensive coordinator, and Morris was finally shown the exit door. Fool me three times, shame on me.
Morris is now serving the Washington Redskins in his demoted role as secondary coach. If it seems that the Redskins' secondary is struggling to support the run defense, this should come as no surprise to anybody, now that we have a better idea of Morris' track record.
11) Brian Schottenheimer
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Count me as a football fan who fails to see what all the hoopla is over offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer now holds the job of offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. Prior to that, he was in the same role for the New York Jets from 2006-2011.
During the six years that Schottenheimer ran the Jets offense, the team finished in the following ranking for overall offense as follows: No. 25 overall (2006), No. 26 (2007), No. 16 (2008), No. 20 (2009), No. 11 (2010) and then back down again to No. 25 (2011).
Not one top-10 finish in six years, but three finishes in the bottom 10. On top of that, he gets hired by another team that finished the 2011 season at No. 31 overall. Nowhere to go but up, right?
To think that he has been viewed as a potential head coaching candidate; I just don't see it.
10) Steve Loney
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Why is this man smiling? His name is Steve Loney, and most recently, he was the offensive line coach for the St. Louis Rams. Loney coached his troops into surrendering a league-leading 55 sacks of the Rams quarterbacks in 2011.
Jeff Fisher wisely passed on the chance to retain Loney when he took over the Rams in 2012, but somehow, Greg Schiano decides to make Loney his assistant offensive line coach for 2012. Why? Does Schiano have a death wish for Josh Freeman?
Freeman may want to reconsider putting those 20 pounds he just lost back on because I think he's going to need it for the upcoming season.
9) Russ Grimm
Russ Grimm was a heck of a football player. He played guard for three Super Bowl winning teams for the Washington Redskins and is a member of the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team.
But that was then, and this is now. Since 2007-present, Grimm has been the offensive line coach for the Arizona Cardinals. His offensive line did a solid job in his third year there (they only allowed 26 sacks). But things have gone downhill since then.
In 2010, Grimm's offensive lineman allowed 50 sacks (second-highest amount in the NFL), and then last year, the 2011 version gave up even more, 55 sacks (again finishing with second-highest amount in NFL). What's amazing is that Ken Whisenhunt hasn't relieved him of his duties yet.
It's not like the offensive line is doing such a better job at run blocking. In the past three years, the Cardinals have been No. 24, 32 and 28 overall in their rushing offense, finishing in the bottom 10 all three years. So, if your line struggles at both pass blocking and rush blocking, how does he retain his job?
8) Brian Murphy
Brian Murphy joined the Carolina Panthers coaching staff in 2011, to take over the special teams unit.
Diehard NFL fans are aware that respected NFL reporter Rick Gosselin of the Dallas News.com, comes out with a ranking after every NFL season of where each of the 32 NFL teams finished in regards to their special teams play.
In the list that Gosselin compiled for the 2011 season, the Carolina Panthers wound up ranking dead last in the NFL. Somewhat surprisingly, the Panthers retained Murphy to head up special teams again. Nowhere to go but up, right?
This isn't just a one-time thing for the Panthers, as they finished dead last in special teams after the 2009 season as well.
7) Jerald Ingram
Jerald Ingram has been the New York Giants running back coach since 2004. Maybe it's time that the Giants considered adding some new blood or giving him a different position to work on inside of the organization.
Why are we coming down on Ingram? For starters, the Giants had the worst rushing attack in the NFL in 2011. They had the lowest average rushing yards per game with just 89.2 yards per game. The Giants also had the lowest average yards per rush in 2011 in the NFL at 3.5 yards per rush. That is anemic production.
We understand that the Giants' running game was hampered due to the injury of Ahmad Bradshaw and the decline of Brandon Jacobs. One of the more interesting stats from the 2011 Giants Super Bowl team was that all four of their running backs had an average of below four yards per carry for the 2011 season.
Ahmad Bradshaw (3.9 yards per carry), Jacobs (3.8 average), D.J. Ware (3.5 average) and Da'Rel Scott (3.2 average).
Strange but true.
6) Mike Wilson
We recognize that an assistant coach can only be as good as the talent he has to work with. So, it's with great anticipation, that we will be watching Mike Wilson—the wide receivers coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Wilson arrived in 2011 to coach the Browns wide receivers. As per this article from ESPN, coming into December last season, the Browns were tied for the NFL league-lead in dropped passes. In addition to the dropped passes, the Browns suffered from having the lowest average of yards per pass at just 10.3 yards—worst in the league.
It's not like this is a new endeavor for Wilson. He has coached wide receivers before with the Oakland Raiders, Stanford, USC, Arizona Cardinals, and now, at Cleveland.
We will see what the Browns receivers do this year. Despite the depth at wide receiver in the 2012 NFL draft, the only receiver the Browns came up with was Travis Benjamin. They could have improved the level of talent that Wilson has to work with but came up far short.
5) Sean McDermott
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While doing research for this presentation, I came across this article by Bryn Swartz from Rant Sports. It seems that he thinks that Sean McDermott, the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator from 2009-2010, is the worst assistant coach in the Andy Reid era. After reading through his assessment of the job that McDermott did, I would have to concur.
As badly as the Eagles defense was under McDermott, he then resurfaced to take over the Carolina Panthers defense in 2011, and they were pretty bad as well. Clearly, the Panthers had some major injuries to key linebackers that dealt the team a major blow, but we will see if he can turn them around in 2012.
The Panthers hired McDermott just two days after the Eagles fired him. Maybe, they should have taken their time and checked him out like any first-round draft pick, rather than just rushing into the hire.
McDermott led the Panthers to a bottom-five finish in 2011, as the Panthers defense finished the year ranked No. 28 overall.
4) Dirk Koetter
When I started looking at the Jacksonville Jaguars' production figures in 2011, I understood why the Jaguars fans stay away from the stadium in droves.
Dirk Koetter was serving as the Jaguars offensive coordinator from 2007-2011. He's now the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in 2012, so Falcons fans can only hope and pray that Koetter won't do to Matt Ryan what he did for Blaine Gabbert in 2011.
While the NFL witnessed a huge year for quarterbacks and passing production all over the league during the 2011 season, it was anything but productive in Jacksonville. The New Orleans Saints threw for 5,347 yards, followed by the New England Patriots with 5,084 yards. The Jaguars totals? Try 2,179 yards.
The Jaguars were last in passing yards, last in yards per passing attempt and last passing yards per game. They were next to last in touchdown passes with 12 (the Rams had only nine by the way), and they were also last in QB Passer Rating with a rating of 62.2.
It's not like Koetter could blame the QB coach on the futility, because Koetter took on the role of QB coach as well in 2011, to help Gabbert in his development. Once you realize the significance of that statement, you have to wonder what Mike Smith was thinking to name Koetter as his offensive coordinator.
3) Gary Brown
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I suppose that it makes tremendous sense that the running backs coach of the Cleveland Browns would have a last name of Brown. The RBs coach is Gary Brown, and as far as I can determine, he's not related to Jim Brown.
Brown has been the Cleveland running backs coach since 2009. What's remarkable about that is that he's still employed in that capacity as we enter the 2012 season.
In 2011, Brown coached the Browns running backs to score a league-low four rushing touchdowns for the entire season. His troops only averaged 3.7 yards per carry (only the New York Giants averaged less yards per carry in 2011, with an average of 3.5 yards per rush). He helped keep the Madden curse alive by not finding a way to prevent Madden cover boy Peyton Hillis from having a terrible season.
In the three years that Brown has coached the running backs, Cleveland's rushing attack has slowly, but surely, continued to sink in the rankings, going from No. 8 to No. 20, and last year, to No. 28. It is understood that Brown isn't solely to blame, as you also have to ding the offensive line coach, offensive coordinator, head coaches and players as well, but we had to name somebody for this mess.
2) Jim Caldwell
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Jim Caldwell, the ex-head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, is now the quarterbacks coach for the Baltimore Ravens. From 2002-10, Caldwell appeared to the outside world to be an excellent coach. It probably helped his reputation that he had the chance to work with Peyton Manning every year. Manning has a way of making everybody around him look good at what they do.
But as we all found out, when Manning went down in 2011 due to the neck surgeries, Caldwell was exposed as a coach that really hadn't done much in the way of developing a Plan B. The Colts were caught as unprepared as a team could be.
From a record of 10-6 in 2010 to 2-14 in 2011 is quite a swing in one year, due to missing one player. They say in team sports one person doesn't make that much of a difference. Just don't say that to Jim Caldwell. He will probably tell you otherwise.
It should be an interesting year in Baltimore to see what kind of an impact (positive or negative) Caldwell has on quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco seems to be taking the Eli Manning path (I consider myself to be elite) in 2012, so we will see if his production gets better or worse under Caldwell's guidance.
1) Gregg Williams
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Even though he's indefinitely suspended, the St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator (he began the 2012 offseason in that role), wins our dubious distinction for being the No. 1 worst assistant coach or coordinator for the 2012 season.
Well earned Gregg. Your lack of concern for the physical well-being of NFL players and trying to create an added level of intensity and desire to injure opponents is so wrong that it will probably be years until the NFL thinks about reinstating you.
Football is a tremendous team sport. It just takes a few key people who are employed in important positions like Williams was to take it upon themselves to put their own personal agenda ahead of the game and their own team.
What Williams did is wrong on many levels and sends the wrong message to kids playing football from Pop Warner to high school ball across the country.
Thanks for checking out the presentation.