Power Ranking Every Coaching Staff Heading into the 2012 NFL Season
Coaching is extremely important in every team sport, but none more than in the National Football League. We have seen staffs completely ruin their teams' ability to win and we have seen other staffs step up and take a previously struggling franchise to the brink of a championship.
One case study has to be the San Francisco 49ers under Jim Harbaugh. Their reversal of fortune as a franchise can be directly attributed to the change of culture within the locker room from the days of Mike Singletary.
The New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers staffs are better long-term examples of this.
Today's article is going to rank the coaching staffs around the NFL from bottom to top.
So, let's take a look.
32. Cleveland Browns
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Head Coach: Pat Shurmur
Offensive Coordinator: Brad Childress
Defensive Coordinator: Dick Jauron
Notable Assistants: Nolan Cromwell (WR) and Ray Rhodes (Senior Assistant)
Shurmur finally got the idea and brought in an offensive coordinator, Brad Childress, for the 2012 season. The young head coach had a terrible time juggling duties last year with the Cleveland Browns. This shouldn't be much of an issue moving forward.
There are also three coaches on his staff that have a ton of experience being head guys: Childress, Dick Jauron and Ray Rhodes.
That being said, the coaching was so dreadful last season that it is hard to believe Cleveland can do much. The Browns also have to worry about the lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball. No coaching staff in the league can get water from a rock.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
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Head Coach: Mike Mularkey
Offensive Coordinator: Bob Bratkowski
Defensive Coordinator: Mel Tucker
Other Notables: Sylvester Croom (RB) and Jerry Sullivan (WR)
Mike Mularkey had an unsuccessful two-year run as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills in 2004 and 2005. At that time it became readily apparent the veteran coach just wasn't suited to be the top dog.
Then Mularkey caught on with the Atlanta Falcons as their offensive coordinator. This position seemed to suit him well as he helped Matt Ryan progress to near-elite status.
This is a primary reason the Jacksonville Jaguars brought Mularkey in to be their head coach. They hope he can perform the same magic with Blaine Gabbert. That being said, there is a world of difference between the young Jaguars' quarterback and Ryan.
In terms of building a coaching staff, it is important to reserve judgment. Bob Bratkowski was the Cincinnati Bengals' offensive coordinator for a decade from 2001 to 2010. He possesses the experience and did have some success with Carson Palmer and Co. in Cincinnati.
30. San Diego Chargers
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Head Coach: Norv Turner
Offensive Coordinator: Hal Hunter
Defensive Coordinator: John Pagano
Other Notables: Charlie Joiner (WR) and Ron Meeks (DB)
Simply put, Norv Turner is the primary reason the San Diego Chargers coaching staff is rated so low. The veteran head coach just doesn't seem to be the right guy to lead this franchise towards Super Bowl contention.
After winning 11 games and advancing to the AFC Championship Game in 2007, Turner has led an underperforming Chargers team to two consecutive mediocre seasons. This is a team that possesses the talent to contend for a championship on a consistent basis but continues to be held back by its coaching staff.
Hal Hunter was promoted to offensive coordinator this offseason after serving as the Chargers' offensive line coach for the last six seasons. He did a solid job with a makeshift offensive line in San Diego last year and should bring some valuable experience. Hunter was an assistant coach for various college football teams, including LSU, for a two-decade span prior to making the jump to the NFL in 2006.
John Pagano was also promoted following the 2011 season. The brother of new Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has been the Chargers' linebacker coach since the start of the 2005 season.
Hopefully this "new" blood will help Turner and the Chargers actually live up to expectations in 2012.
29. Arizona Cardinals
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Head Coach: Ken Whisenhunt
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Miller
Defensive Coordinator: Ray Horton
Other Notables: Russ Grimm (Assistant Head Coach) and Frank Reich (WR)
Make no mistake about it, Ken Whisenhunt is on the hot seat. In fact, if it weren't for a 7-2 finish to the 2011 season he might have already been fired. The veteran coach started off his Arizona Cardinals tenure by riding the coattails of Kurt Warner to the Super Bowl in just his second season as the top man in the desert.
It has been downhill ever since.
The Cardinals have not had a winning season since 2009 and have consistently performed under the level that their talent suggests. A lot of this has to do with pedestrian quarterback play, but the blame needs to be placed at the top.
Mike Miller was given his first opportunity to be a coordinator in the NFL last season after more than a decade as an assistant coach for various teams in the NFL and NFL Europe. The Cardinals' scoring offense finished 24th in the league last season, again mostly due to quarterback issues. If this unit doesn't perform better in 2012 he could be looking at a relatively short stint in Arizona.
Former Super Bowl-winning cornerback Ray Horton was named the Cardinals' defensive coordinator in 2011 and proceeded to lead the 17th-best scoring defense in the league last year. Once again, he needs that to improve in order to keep his job.
One thing is for sure: Russ Grimm is one of the best assistant coaches in the entire league. Grimm led two of the best offensive line groups in recent NFL history with the Washington Redskins from 1997 to 2000 and the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2005 to 2007. He should help the young linemen in Arizona a great deal.
The pressure is on here. If Arizona fails to live up to expectations in a vastly improved NFC West, it could be looking at mass firings following or during the year.
28. Minnesota Vikings
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Head Coach: Leslie Frazier
Offensive Coordinator: Bill Musgrave
Defensive Coordinator: Alan Williams
Other Notables: Jeff Davidson (OL) and Mike Singletary (LB)
The Minnesota Vikings were bad last season, really bad. This is a team that won a total of three games, which was the amount Leslie Frazier had won as interim coach for the remaining six games of the 2010 season.
They couldn't hold leads at the half, play-calling seemed to be inept at times and mistakes were common themes throughout the duration of the season.
While franchises do tend to give their head coaches two full seasons to prove they can get the job done, there is a chance Frazier is let go during the 2012 season if the Vikings start slow out of the gate.
Bill Musgrave might be the most overrated assistant coach in the National Football League. He was the offensive coordinator for the 2000 Carolina Panthers, who won seven games and finished in the bottom third of the league in scoring offense.
After just one season in Carolina, Musgrave was let go. He resurfaced in the same position with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but couldn't last two full seasons in that role. Jacksonville won five games in his first season, finishing 25th in the league in scoring offense.
Outside of that, not much to see here. Mike Singletary, who had a disastrous tenure as the San Francisco 49ers head coach, led an underperforming linebacker group in Minnesota last season. He just might not be cut out for coaching.
Overall, not an entirely impressive group of coaches here.
27. Seattle Seahawks
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Head Coach: Pete Carroll
Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Bevell
Defensive Coordinator: Casey Bradley
Other Notables: Tom Cable (OL) and Ken Norton, Jr. (LB)
I may draw some criticism for having the Seattle Seahawks this low, but Pete Carroll just doesn't impress me as a head coach in the NFL. In fact, he has led pedestrian squads in all three of his stops in the league.
Seattle may have won the NFC West in 2010 and upset the then-defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in the postseason. However, we must take into account that they didn't even finish above .500 that season. Seattle then took a step back in 2011, finishing third in the division with seven wins.
In order for Carroll, who is a fan favorite in the Pacific Northwest, to keep his job he is going to have to challenge the San Francisco 49ers for the division title. That is going to be an enormous task.
Darrell Bevell pretty much rode the coattails of Brett Favre during the Minnesota Vikings' 12-win 2009 season. Outside of that one season he led a pretty pedestrian offense with the likes of Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte playing quarterback.
The reason why the Seahawks are higher than they should be is due to a couple solid assistants in the form of Tom Cable and Ken Norton. Cable is probably one of the best offensive line coaches in the league and is seemingly underemployed after being prematurely fired by the Oakland Raiders following the 2010 season.
Casey Bradley also did a magnificent job with Seattle's defense in 2011, finishing seventh in the NFL in scoring defense.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Head Coach: Greg Schiano
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Sullivan
Defensive Coordinator: Bill Sheridan
Other Notables: Jimmy Raye (Offensive Assistant), Ron Turner (QB), Earnest Byner (RB) and Bryan Cox (DL)
Completely new coaching staffs are extremely hard to gauge before one single game has been played. So, like with every new staff in this article, take their rankings with a grain of salt.
Greg Schiano was a great hire by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former Rutgers head coach led that program from the abyss to near elite status. He led Rutgers to six bowl appearances in his final seven seasons with the team.
Joining Schiano in Tampa Bay is former New York Giants wide receiver and quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan. The talented coach is one of the primary reasons Eli Manning captured elite status over the course of the last two seasons. He should help Josh Freeman mature into a better quarterback.
25. Oakland Raiders
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Head Coach: Dennis Allen
Offensive Coordinator: Greg Knapp
Defensive Coordinator: Jason Tarver
Other Notables: Al Saunders (Offensive Assistant) and Johnnie Lynn (DB)
Once again the Oakland Raiders went with the fountain of youth in hiring 39-year-old Dennis Allen, who has just one season experience as a coordinator in the National Football League. Outside of John Gruden, these types of hires really haven't worked out well for Oakland.
The Denver Broncos under the coaching of Allen finished 24th in the league in scoring defense. Not terribly impressive, if you ask me.
That being said, it is important to reserve judgment until a single game is played.
Greg Knapp has a tremendous amount of experience as an offensive coordinator in the league. While he has led some pretty pedestrian units over the course of his career, Knapp has a great resume. He was the quarterback coach for the San Francisco 49ers when Jeff Garcia broke out with a Pro Bowl performance in 2000.
Al Saunders also brings a lot of experience to the role of offensive assistant. The veteran coach enjoyed a great amount of success as the offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs from 2001 to 2005 with players such as Trent Green and Priest Holmes. They finished first or second in scoring offense for a three-year span from 2002 to 2004.
24. Miami Dolphins
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Head Coach: Joe Philbin
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Sherman
Defensive Coordinator: Kevin Coyle
Other Notables: George Edwards (LB) and Ken O'Keefe (WR)
Once again, this is incredibly hard to gauge. The Miami Dolphins were one of the finalists for Jeff Fisher before he decided to join the St. Louis Rams. As it is, Jeff Ireland and Co. did pretty good for themselves in the form of backup plan Joe Philbin.
As the Green Bay Packers' offensive coordinator for the last five seasons, Philbin led one of the most impressive units in the recent history of the National Football League. In fact, some could conclude that he is one of the primary reasons Aaron Rodgers has become the best quarterback in the league.
The Packers finished no worst then 10th in scoring offense in each of his five seasons as their offensive coordinator, finishing in the top five four different times.
Mike McCarthy will get a lot of credit for this, but it is hard to sleep on Philbin.
Now he is going to be asked to do the same thing with rookie signal-caller Ryan Tannehill. It is going to be a long process, but fans in South Beach should have faith in Philbin. It also helps that the Dolphins pegged former Texas A&M and Green Bay head coach Mike Sherman to be their new offensive coordinator. At the very least he should have good chemistry with his former and current quarterback.
23. Buffalo Bills
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Head Coach: Chan Gailey
Offensive Coordinator: Curtis Modkins
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Wannstedt
Other Notables: David Lee (QB) and Bob Sanders (LB)
It might surprise some people that I have the Buffalo Bills coaching staff this low, but let me explain. Chan Gailey really hasn't enjoyed consistent success as a head coach in the National Football League, winning a total of 10 games in his first two seasons as the Bills' head coach.
While the talent is there to contend for a postseason spot in 2012, the coaching staff led by Gailey is going to have to do its job.
Buffalo did promote long-time NFL coach Dave Wannstedt to be the defensive coordinator. He enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in that role with the Dallas Cowboys during the beginning of their run in the early 1990's.
It really is a make-or-break season for this coaching staff. Another year of below-.500 ball and they will all get shown the door.
22. Tennessee Titans
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Head Coach: Mike Munchak
Offensive Coordinator: Chris Palmer
Defensive Coordinator: Jerry Gray
Other Notables: Bruce Matthews (OL) and Brett Maxie (DB)
The Tennessee Titans surprised a great deal of people last season by playing out the string and nearly making the postseason. It was a really good season for then-rookie head coach Mike Munchak, who bleeds Titan/Oiler blue after being a member of that organization for nearly 30 years before getting this opportunity.
The next step in the "rebuilding" process is to actually make the second season, but the Titans are going to face stiff competition in the AFC where a whole glut of teams are pegged to challenge for the final couple playoff spots.
Chris Palmer has extensive experience as a coordinator and head coach in the NFL. He started his pro coaching career with the Houston Oilers in 1990 and has bounced around various organizations since, including a two-year stint as the Cleveland Browns' head coach.
We don't have a whole lot to work from in regards to this coaching staff, therefore is just makes sense to place them in the middle of the pack until we get a better understanding of their abilities.
21. New Orleans Saints
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Head Coach: Joe Vitt (Sean Payton suspended for 2012 season)
Offensive Coordinator: Peter Carmichael, Jr.
Defensive Coordinator: Steve Spagnuolo
Other Notables: Henry Ellard (WR) and Terry Malone (TE)
The New Orleans Saints would definitely be boasting a top-five coaching staff if it weren't for the yearlong suspension of head coach Sean Payton.
Now they are going to have to take the field under the leadership of Joe Vitt, who doesn't have as much as even coordinating experience in the NFL. There is definitely going to be some growing pains early on in 2012.
Pete Carmichael, Jr. is a solid offensive coordinator and should get some play as a head coach in the not-so-distant future. Additionally, "Spags" brings a great resume with him after a disastrous three-year stint as the St. Louis Rams' head coach. He should be an upgrade, in every sense of the word, over the much-maligned Gregg Williams.
Overall, it is going to be an interesting season in the Bayou for this suddenly fledgling franchise.
20. New York Jets
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Head Coach: Rex Ryan
Offensive Coordinator: Tony Sparano
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Pettine
Other Notables: Matt Cavanaugh (QB) and Dennis Thurman (DB)
Again, my rankings might draw a bit of criticism here. After all, Rex Ryan did lead the New York Jets to the AFC Championship Game in each of his first two seasons as their head coach.
The primary issue here is how the Jets completely fell off the map during a disastrous 2011 season that saw a great deal of division within the locker room.
In order to be considered a good head coach you need to have control of your team. It doesn't appear Ryan had that control last year.
Outside of the loud-mouthed head coach, the Jets have a pretty decent staff. Tony Sparano joins the Jets after spending the last four seasons as the Miami Dolphins' head coach. He was previously the assistant head coach for the Dallas Cowboys from 2003 to 2007.
Definitely an upgrade over Brian Schottenheimer.
New York needs to have a bounce back 2012 season if Ryan and Co. are going to keep their jobs. After all, "The Big Apple" will not stand for mediocrity.
19. Dallas Cowboys
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Head Coach: Jason Garrett
Offensive Coordinator: Bill Callahan
Defensive Coordinator: Rob Ryan
Other Notables: Wade Wilson (QB) and Skip Peete (RB)
The 2011 season started out with high expectations for the Dallas Cowboys. Jason Garrett finished the previous season as their interim head coach after the firing of Wade Phillips, going 5-3 during the last half of the year.
It didn't work out as planned.
The Cowboys struggled a great deal late in games and missed the postseason after a lackluster season finale performance against the New York Giants in Week 17. In reality it just didn't appear the Cowboys wanted it as much as the Giants.
It has now become make-or-break time for Garrett and Co. They added Bill Callahan as the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. While the former Oakland Raiders and Nebraska head coach will not be calling plays, he should help out a great deal.
Rob Ryan has to be considered one of the most overrated coordinators in the entire National Football League. Manning the same position with the Oakland Raiders during a five-year stretch from 2004 to 2008, Ryan failed to impress a great deal. They never finished in the top half of the league in scoring defense under Ryan.
18. Chicago Bears
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Head Coach: Lovie Smith
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Tice
Defensive Coordinator: Rod Marinelli
Other Notables: Jeremy Bates (QB) and Bob Babich (LB)
Having two former head coaches as coordinators should help Lovie Smith out a great deal. That being said, the Chicago Bears need to produce a postseason appearance for Smith to actually keep his job past 2012.
This is a franchise that was a NFC Championship Game loss away from a Super Bowl appearance in 2010. Injuries to both Jay Cutler and Matt Forte held the Bears back a great deal as they fell apart towards the end of 2011.
Further regression or the status quo would mean a pink slip for Smith and his coaches.
17. Carolina Panthers
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Head Coach: Ron Rivera
Offensive Coordinator: Rob Chudzinski
Defensive Coordinator: Sean McDermott
Other Notables: Mike Shula (QB) and John Settle (RB)
You really have to like what Ron Rivera and Co. did in their first season with the Carolina Panthers. Sure, the selection of Cam Newton in the 2011 NFL draft helped out a great deal, but you have to give credit where it is deserved.
As a defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears from 2004 to 2006, Rivera led one of the best units in the recent history of the league. The 2006 version of the Bears defense led that franchise to its first Super Bowl appearance in over two decades.
He is, by all accounts, a defensive-minded head coach.
This brings me to Rob Chudzinski, who was the offensive coordinator for Ben Roethlisberger during his college days at Miami of Ohio. Following that stint in the college ranks, he led the Cleveland Browns to their best offensive output since the days of Bernie Kosar, making Derek Anderson look like a franchise quarterback.
In the end, Carolina's coaching staff will be a primary reason they return to the postseason.
16. St. Louis Rams
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Head Coach: Jeff Fisher
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Schottenheimer
Defensive Coordinator: Vacant, Gregg Williams serving suspension
Other Notables: Ray Sherman (WR), Clyde Simmons (DL) and Chuck Cecil (DB)
Jeff Fisher is simply the most overrated head coach in the National Football League. Considering the talent he had with the Tennessee Titans it is a crying shame they didn't win a Super Bowl. Additionally, they failed to make the postseason in each of his final two seasons as their head coach. Overall, Tennessee only made the playoffs in six of Fisher's 17 seasons as its head coach.
The reason why St. Louis is ranked much higher than they should be is because of the staff Fisher brought with him. Ray Sherman, Clyde Simmons and Chuck Cecil bring a great deal of experience as assistants in the NFL. Simmons and Cecil will help a defense that is without a coordinator following the suspension of Gregg Williams.
15. Kansas City Chiefs
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Head Coach: Romeo Crennel
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Daboll
Defensive Coordinator: None (Crennel)
Other Notables: Maurice Carthon (Assistant Head Coach), Jim Zorn (QB), Anthony Pleasant (DL) and Emmitt Thomas (DB)
After a stunningly horrible 2011 season for the Kansas City Chiefs over the course of the first 14 weeks, they made the decision to fire Todd Haley and replace him with Romeo Crennel. While the long-time NFL coach had limited success as the head man with the Cleveland Browns from 2005 to 2008, the Chiefs performed well in the final three games of 2011 under him, winning two of their final three games.
That was enough for Crennel to see the interim tag removed from his title. He now leads a franchise that hopes to recapture the AFC West Championship after a one-year hiatus.
Crennel also has a great deal of help on the coaching staff. Maurice Carthon, Jim Zorn and Emmitt Thomas bring more than 60 years of combined NFL coaching experience. This is going to help them ride the proverbial storm that a full season brings.
Expect big things in 2012.
14. Atlanta Falcons
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Head Coach: Mike Smith
Offensive Coordinator: Dirk Koetter
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Nolan
Other Notables: Gerald Brown (RB) and Tim Lewis (DB)
Mike Smith needs to actually win a postseason game if he is going to break the top 10 on this list. The head coach has failed to win a playoff game in four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and is now feeling the seat get relatively hot beneath him.
Smith did do the Falcons defense a tremendous favor by bringing in Mike Nolan. Despite a disastrous tenure as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2005 to 2008, he brings 14 years of coordinator experience with him to the Falcons.
Additionally, Nolan has been one of the best defensive coordinators in the league during that span. Starting in 1993 with the New York Giants, when his defense finished No. 1 overall, Nolan has been quite the performer. He has led a total of six top-10 defenses in those 14 seasons.
No matter how the Falcons perform in the regular season, they are going to need to make some noise in January for Smith's job to be considered safe.
13. Cincinnati Bengals
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Head Coach: Marvin Lewis
Offensive Coordinator: Jay Gruden
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Zimmer
Other Notables: Ken Zampese (QB) and Mark Carrier (DB)
The seat couldn't possibly have been hotter for Marvin Lewis heading into the 2011 season. After all, he was coming off a four-win 2010 season.
It is pretty crazy how just one season changes everything.
The Bengals surprised the entire football world by winning nine games and making the postseason with a rookie quarterback and No. 1 receiver. Their defense, led by a combination of veteran castoffs and unproven youngsters, stood up relatively well.
Now the Bengals are in full contention mode looking to make noise in the AFC heading into the 2012 season.
Lewis also has a tremendous amount of help on his coaching staff. Jay Gruden will likely be a head coach in the NFL within the next season or two. His offensive philosophy seems to fit the Bengals' talent level a great deal. Mike Zimmer also has to be considered one of the best defensive coordinators in the league. He has led two top-10 scoring defenses in Cincinnati over the course of the last three seasons.
12. Indianapolis Colts
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Head Coach: Chuck Pagano
Offensive Coordinator: Bruce Arians
Defensive Coordinator: Greg Manusky
Other Notables: Clyde Christensen (QB) and Roy Anderson (DB/S)
It might surprise a great deal of people that I have the new Indianapolis Colts coaching staff this high. What I will say is that you will be pleasantly surprised by how the Colts perform under this regime in 2012.
New head coach Chuck Pagano might only have one season of coordinating experience in the NFL, but his resume is lengthy. What Pagano did as the defensive backs coach for the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens over a span of seven seasons is pretty amazing.
He also brings a tremendous coaching staff with him. Bruce Arians led one of the most consistently good offenses with the Pittsburgh Steelers 2007. They finished in the top 10 in scoring offenses in four of his last five seasons, concluding each year among the best in terms of total yards.
11. Green Bay Packers
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Head Coach: Mike McCarthy
Offensive Coordinator: Tom Clements
Defensive Coordinator: Dom Capers
Other Notables: Edgar Bennett (WR), Kevin Greene (LB) and Alex Van Pelt (RB)
It is hard to imagine that just three seasons ago Mike McCarthy was on the hot seat with the Green Bay Packers. He was coming off a six-win 2008 campaign and looked to be on his way out.
The rest is pretty much history. Green Bay has won an NFC-best 36 games over the course of the last three seasons, bringing home the Lombardi two years ago.
Let's be honest. Aaron Rodgers can pretty much make anyone look good.
Dom Capers instilled a 3-4 defensive scheme in Green Bay and led one of the best defenses in the league two seasons ago. The long-time NFL coach has the resume and success to be counted on heading into the 2012 season.
That being said, the Packers need to improve on their dead-last ranking on defense last year.
10. Detroit Lions
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Head Coach: Jim Schwartz
Offensive Coordinator: Scott Linehan
Defensive Coordinator: Gunther Cunningham
Other Notables: Sam Gash (RB) and Kris Kocurek (DL)
It took Jim Schwartz just two seasons to turn around the previously losing culture in "The Motor City." He led the Detroit Lions to their first postseason appearance since the 1999 season.
While a lot has been made about the Lions' issues with arrests this offseason, you really cannot question the production Schwartz has gotten from this team over the course of his first three seasons as their head coach.
Both Scott Linehan and Gunther Cunningham bring head coaching experience to the table as coordinators as well.
That being said, the Lions need to get to elite status in 2012 if this coaching staff is going to jump the ranks.
9. New York Giants
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Head Coach: Tom Coughlin
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Gilbride
Defensive Coordinator: Perry Fewell
Other Notables: Sean Ryan (QB) and Robert Nunn (DL)
The only reason why the coaching staff of the defending champion New York Giants is so low is due to the mere presence of Kevin Gilbride as offensive coordinator. He has to be considered one of the worst at this position in the NFL.
In fact, play-calling needs to improve if the Giants are going to return to the postseason in 2012.
That being said, Tom Coughlin has been one of the most successful head coaches in the modern history of the league. Despite being on the hot seat numerous times during his eight-year tenure in New York, Coughlin has come away with two of the last five Lombardi Trophies.
Perry Fewell has been a hot head coaching commodity during the last couple offseasons. However, the Giants defense did take a steep dive from 2010 to last season, dropping from seventh to 27th in scoring defense. That needs to improve as well.
8. Houston Texans
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Head Coach: Gary Kubiak
Offensive Coordinator: Rick Dennison
Defensive Coordinator: Wade Phillips
Other Notables: Karl Dorrell (QB), Reggie Herring (LB) and Vance Joseph (DB)
Finally the Houston Texans ended their franchise long postseason drought by winning the AFC South last season. With a healthy Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, they now look to take the next step and contend for a conference championship.
While winning the division last season might have saved Kubiak's job, they need to continue that upwards trend if he is going to maintain the head coaching job.
While Wade Phillips has struggled as a head coach, he is simply the best defensive coordinator in the National Football League. His defenses have finished in the top 10 in scoring nine different times during a 27-year NFL coaching career. Moreover, his units have finished in the top 10 in total yards a whopping 14 times.
Talk about productivity.
Defensive backs coach Vance Joseph also did a great job turning around a secondary that was among the worst in the league in 2010. It climbed to No. 3 in that category last season after finishing dead last the previous year.
7. Washington Redskins
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Head Coach: Mike Shanahan
Offensive Coordinator: Kyle Shanahan
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Haslett
Other Notables: Ike Hilliard (WR) and Raheem Morris (DB)
Things have not gone according to plan for Mike Shanahan since he joined the Washington Redskins prior to the start of the 2010 season. He has won a total of 11 games in two seasons and appears to be on the hot seat.
That being said, someone of his talent doesn't lose his coaching ability overnight. Shanahan, a sure-fire pick for Canton, will get the ship righted in short order.
It might take some time with Robert Griffin III taking the helm at quarterback, but the future is definitely bright in Landover.
Both Jim Haslett and Raheem Morris bring head coaching experience to the table at the coordinator positions. They'll help Shanahan out a great deal.
6. Philadelphia Eagles
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Head Coach: Andy Reid
Offensive Coordinator: Marty Mornhinweg
Defensive Coordinator: Juan Castillo
Other Notables: Howard Mudd (OL), Jim Washburn (DL), Mike Caldwell (LB) and Todd Bowles (DB)
Talk about long-term success. Andy Reid has led the Philadelphia Eagles to nine postseason appearances in 14 seasons as their head coach. Despite not winning a Super Bowl during that span, what he has done in Philadelphia is nothing short of amazing.
And boy has Reid built himself quite the little coaching staff. Howard Mudd and Jim Washburn are among the best at what they do in the league.
The major question mark here is Juan Castillo, who struggled a great deal in his first season as their defensive coordinator. That unit needs to pick it up if the Eagles are going to live up to high expectations in 2012.
In fact, Reid's job may rely on it.
5. Baltimore Ravens:
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Head Coach: John Harbaugh
Offensive Coordinator: Cam Cameron
Defensive Coordinator: Dean Pees
Other Notables: Jim Hostler (WR) and Wilbert Montgomery (RB)
All John Harbaugh has done in four seasons as the Baltimore Ravens head coach is lead them to a .688 regular-season winning percentage and four postseason appearances. In short, he has quickly become one of the best "young" coaches in the National Football League. In fact, Harbaugh has built a consistent championship contender.
Cam Cameron continues to draw criticism for his questionable play-calling, especially the fact that he has ignored Ray Rice a great deal throughout games over the course of the last couple seasons.
That being said, he seemed to be going in the right direction with Rice as the 2012 season progressed. The Pro Bowl running back touched the ball 20-plus times in eight of the Ravens' final nine games, including the postseason.
Dean Pees take over as the Ravens' defensive coordinator after yet another assistant, Chuck Pagano, got a head coaching position.
4. Denver Broncos
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Head Coach: John Fox
Offensive Coordinator: Mike McCoy
Defensive Coordinator: Jack Del Rio
Other Notables: Eric Studesville (RB) and Richard Smith (LB)
John Fox took over a Denver Broncos franchise that appeared to be in full-scale rebuilding mode prior to the start of the 2011 season. What he did with that team was nothing short of amazing. Denver won the AFC West with very limited quarterback play from Tim Tebow and a patchwork defense.
This shouldn't come as much of a surprise considering Fox has a history of success as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers from 2002 to 2010.
The addition of former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio was a coup for Denver this offseason. The former NFL linebacker is a perfect fit as the Broncos defensive coordinator. His defenses have finished in the top 10 in scoring defense five times since the 2002 season.
Now that the Broncos have Peyton Manning you can expect them to contend for a conference championship.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
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Head Coach: Mike Tomlin
Offensive Coordinator: Todd Haley
Defensive Coordinator: Dick LeBeau
Other Notables: Carnell Lake (DB) and Keith Butler (LB)
What the Pittsburgh Steelers have built in terms of head coaches over the course of the last half century is just plain crazy. They have had a total of three coaches man the sidelines since the 1969 season.
For comparison sake, the Oakland Raiders have had just as many coaches since the midway point of the 2008 season.
That really isn't even the point here. Mike Tomlin has built one of the best coaching staffs in the league. Todd Haley comes over as the offensive coordinator after serving as the Kansas City Chiefs' head coach for the last two-plus seasons. He is an immediate upgrade over Bruce Arians.
Hall of Fame defensive back Dick LeBeau rounds out one of the best coaching staffs in the NFL. His defenses have finished in the top 10 in total yards in each of the last eight seasons.
2. New England Patriots
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Head Coach: Bill Belichick
Offensive Coordinator: Josh McDaniels
Defensive Coordinator: Matt Patricia
Other Notables: Ivan Fears (RB) and Pepper Johnson (LB)
Two words: Bill Belichick.
It really doesn't matter who the future Hall of Fame head coach has assisting him, he is going to lead the New England Patriots to Super Bowl contention each and every season he is their top dog.
The Patriots have made five Super Bowl appearances in the last 11 seasons, winning three of them. In total, this franchise has won double-digit games in each of the last nine seasons.
Josh McDaniels returns as the Patriots' offensive coordinator after a couple seasons away from the compound. He was their primary play-caller during New England's 16-0 2007 campaign.
Not much more to say here.
1. San Francisco 49ers
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Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh
Offensive Coordinator: Greg Roman
Defensive Coordinator: Vic Fangio
Other Notables: Tom Rathman (RB), Brad Seely (ST), Jim Tomsula (DL) and Ed Donatell (DB)
The San Francisco 49ers coaching staff is absolutely stacked with talent and experience on each side of the ball and special teams. Of course, a majority of the press will go to Jim Harbaugh, who turned around a previously struggling franchise to the tune of an NFC Championship Game appearance.
That being said, Harbaugh relies a great deal on the coaches underneath him and is a great figurehead for the rest of the staff.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has 12 years experience at this position in the NFL. He also led the New Orleans Saints' linebacker group that consisted of Sam Mills, Pat Swilling and Rickey Jackson.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman held this same position under Harbaugh at Stanford, but might not be around for the long run. He received interest from both Penn State in the college ranks and the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL for their previously vacant head coaching position.
It isn't just the coordinators that are solid in San Francisco. Defensive backs coach Ed Donatell served as a defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers for a total of seven seasons. Linebacker coach Jim Leavitt was the head coach at South Florida for 13 seasons before getting fired for hitting a player.
I could continue with the resume dropping for a great while, but will stop at that.
No one can seriously question that the 49ers' coaching staff belongs No. 1 on this list. The culture within that locker room has changed dramatically from the days of both Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary. San Francisco is now back on top and prepared to make a Super Bowl run in 2012.