Power Ranking Every NFL Coaching Staff Heading into the 2012 Season
The National Football League is full of amazing coaches, but which team has assembled the most coaching talent?
From the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick to the replacement head coach in New Orleans, there's no lack of talent patrolling the sidelines. While the head coach may be the man ultimately responsible for the fate of the team, he's hardly alone in developing a playbook and executing the game plan each week.
Does the head coach receive too much credit and blame? Definitely—which is why we're ranking the NFL's best coaching staffs, not just the head coaches. Where does your team come out?
32. New Orleans Saints
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The 2012 season will be a tough one for the coaches of the New Orleans Saints.
Head coach Sean Payton is gone for the year. Joe Vitt is out six games. No replacement head coach has been named for the time Vitt will be suspended. Oh, and there is a new defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo.
There are good coaches here, but the lack of continuity will hurt them, no matter how good the players are. Pete Carmichael figures to carry a heavy load of the offensive game-planning, but this is his first real shot at doing so. He's a bright young coach, but he's not Sean Payton.
Imagine the New England Patriots losing Bill Belichick or the New York Giants losing Tom Coughlin. That's what the Saints are facing in 2012.
31. San Diego Chargers
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The San Diego Chargers are incredibly talented—in fact they ranked No. 4 offensively and No. 13 on defense in our recent power rankings—but head coach Norv Turner hasn't been able to win with this team. If any coach in the NFL is on a hot seat, Turner is it.
Turner's teams in San Diego have been underachievers virtually every season when compared with the expectations surrounding them and the talent on paper. His inability to get the most from his players is baffling.
Offensive coordinator Hal Hunter moves up from the offensive line job, and while he did a very good job with the big uglies, he's never called plays in the NFL. To say that Hunter is a question mark would be fair.
There is a new face on defense too, as former outside linebackers coach John Pagano will call plays. He's well regarded but untested in his new role.
30. Miami Dolphins
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You can't help but like Joe Philbin as a man, but how will he perform as a head coach?
Philbin's calm, mild-mannered approach could go over very well in Miami. He's a smart offensive mind who understands the passing game and offensive line play very well, which generally makes for a great mix as a head coach.
Philbin is untested, but that's not even the biggest concern in Miami's coaches box. Mike Sherman at offensive coordinator is.
Sherman comes in from Texas A&M, where his offensive "genius" led the Aggies to a 25-25 record in his four years as head coach. Sherman's schemes never took off at A&M, and his offenses were never as potent as they should have been.
Kevin Coyle is the new head man for the defense, and he'll bring a 4-3 scheme to South Beach after years under a 3-4 scheme. If Coyle's work with the Cincinnati Bengals secondary is any indicator of his talent, the Dolphins defense is in good hands.
29. Minnesota Vikings
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Leslie Frazier was a talented defensive coach as a coordinator, but to date his ability as a head coach is questionable.
Frazier is entering his second full season as head coach, so it's time to see what he can do. He's a "defensive-minded coach," but the Minnesota defense sure struggled in 2011 despite a first-class pass rush. Frazier is in a very tough division, but he needs to step up his game to survive a hot seat.
The coordinators here are question marks entering 2012. Bill Musgrave had to dial back on offense once rookie Christian Ponder came in, but Musgrave's job will be evaluated on how quickly he can develop the second-year passer. On defense, Alan Williams is on his first coordinator job after coaching the Indianapolis Colts' defensive backs, a unit that didn't exactly dominate the NFL last year.
28. Oakland Raiders
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New general manager Reggie McKenzie fired Hue Jackson and brought in Dennis Allen, who had a hand in turning around the Denver Broncos defense in 2012. The move from Jackson to Allen has the potential to hurt the Oakland offense, but the defense should see a boost.
Allen hired coordinators Gregg Knapp (offense) and Jason Tarver (defense), but neither did much to move the needle in Oakland.
Knapp failed as an offensive coordinator in San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta and already once in Oakland previously before rehabbing his image as the quarterback coach in Houston last year. Tarver, who comes from Stanford's coaching staff, has never been an NFL coordinator.
There is potential here, as Allen and Tarver should be exciting game-planners, but the offense under Knapp will do little to build buzz or winning football.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars
Anyone who watched the Atlanta Falcons offense under Mike Mularkey was a little surprised to see him named the new head coach in Jacksonville. Either the Jaguars believe he'll be better in a top-level gig, or they really like quarterback sneaks on 4th-and-1.
Mularkey's impact remains to be seen, but there is one damn good coach on this squad who we already know about. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker would have been a fine pick as the new head coach. He's a motivator and a talented game-planner on defense.
The coordinator job on offense went to Bob Bratkowski, who had some good passing attacks in Cincinnati under Carson Palmer. If Bratkowski is to succeed here, he'll have to develop Blaine Gabbert at quarterback (along with quarterbacks coach Greg Olson) and develop a scheme that fits the players available.
The knock on Gabbert is that he's afraid to stay in the pocket and looks to run too soon; coupled with receivers who cannot separate, that makes for one gigantic headache on offense. Olson and Bratkowski have their work cut out for them.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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The Greg Schiano era in Tampa Bay is under way, and the Buccaneers look to be a tougher, more disciplined team in 2012.
Schiano has never been a head coach in the NFL, but he did spend a decade as the head man at Rutgers. He has a defensive background and is asking for his team to be hard-hitting while playing smart assignment football.
Schiano surrounded himself with a lot of former Rutgers coaches, but at the top spots he went with proven NFL men in Mike Sullivan (offense) and Bill Sheridan (defense). Neither has been an elite coordinator in the past, but they are experienced and fit the schemes Schiano envisions his team running.
Very few NFL coaches have made a successful transition from the college game to the pros, and the odds are stacked against Schiano being one to break that mold. This will be a prove-it year for Schiano and the Buccaneers.
25. Cleveland Browns
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Pat Shurmur was hailed as an offensive genius whose West Coast offense would be tailor-made for the existing players on the Cleveland Browns roster. That didn't happen, and in the offseason the front office added a completely new look at the skill positions.
Shurmur is a good coach, but he may be better off as a coordinator. He was responsible for Sam Bradford's 2010 season, so we know he has the tools, but the players may be lacking.
Shurmur hired an offensive coordinator, but he'll still be calling the plays. That's probably a good thing, considering that coordinator is Brad Childress. A coach who lives off his reputation from his time in Philadelphia, Childress isn't the QB guru many seem to think he is. Anyone who saw the Minnesota Vikings play under his reign knows this.
Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron is as proven as they come and a perfect example of a coach who is great as a coordinator but not cut out for a head job. Jauron had the Browns defense buzzing in 2011 and should be able to do the same in 2012.
24. Indianapolis Colts
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There is a new regime in Indianapolis, and the Colts are better for it with a good cast of coaches coming to town. The biggest question marks will be how well head coach Chuck Pagano transitions to a head position and just how well Bruce Arians can do with an offensive roster lacking talent.
Pagano and Greg Manusky will get the job done on defense—as much as they can without elite talent in the secondary. Pagano's defenses in Baltimore were routinely some of the best in the game, and his ability to develop players is worth noting. Mandusky is a very good linebacker coach who will get his shot at running a defense under a noted "defensive specialist" at head coach.
Offensive coordinator Arians retired and then un-retired in Pittsburgh, and now he comes to Indy for a chance to develop the best draft prospect in the last 25 years—Andrew Luck. The rookie quarterback has major talent, and his development will be the key to Arians keeping his job.
23. Buffalo Bills
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The Buffalo Bills have a very good head coach, but the rest of the coaching staff is questionable. That's why they are ranked No. 23 overall.
Chan Gailey is a bright offensive mind, and he did get production from this team before injuries hit in 2011. The expectation is that the offense in particular will take the next step forward if the starters can stay on the field.
The role of offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins—and even quarterback coach David Lee—is less impactful due to Gailey's role as an offensive head coach. The team's offense has Gailey's fingerprints on it, with Modkins and Lee working more as developers.
The defense improved last year, but with more talent Dave Wannstedt's job will be easier. The key for a defensive coordinator is knowing when to blitz and knowing what coverages to call. The rest is on the players.
22. Tennessee Titans
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You have to like the job Mike Munchak did in his first season replacing Jeff Fisher as head coach of the Tennessee Titans. Consider that he got the job late in the offseason and had to deal with a lockout, and it's easy to see that Munchak is here to stay.
The Titans staff is one that could have been ranked higher, but finding a team above them to move down was impossible. With solid coordinators Jerry Gray (defense) and a surprisingly good year from Chris Palmer (offense), the Titans have one of the more underrated coaching staffs in the NFL.
As the coaching staff matures together, and as they win more games, the Titans will shoot up our rankings.
21. Kansas City Chiefs
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Romeo Crennel worked his magic in Kansas City in 2011—first with the defense and then with the rest of the team in an interim role after Todd Haley was fired. Now he's the head coach, and he's leaving his mark on the team.
Crennel did a good job in finding a coordinator and assistants who fit his type of football. Brian Daboll has connections to Crennel and the New England Patriots, and he'll be a comfortable fit for quarterback Matt Cassel. Quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn is a respected X's and O's guy who will bring insight to the game plan.
On defense, Crennel will play a huge role in the weekly planning, but on game day he's likely to rely heavily on assistants Anthony Pleasant (defensive line) and Emmitt Thomas (secondary). Crennel's staff is loaded with former NFL players, and assistant head coach Maurice Carthon will play an integral role in the offensive identity of this team.
20. Washington Redskins
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Mike Shanahan deserves a load of respect for what he did with the Denver Broncos, but in a win-now NFL, Shanahan needs to prove that this roster can win games.
Shanahan is largely the brains of the entire operation here, but his son Kyle Shanahan runs the offense and is a big part of the weekly game plan. It will be Mike and Kyle working daily with first-rounder Robert Griffin III as the team adds him into the system at quarterback.
Jim Haslett is respected as a defensive coordinator, but it's a little surprising that the Redskins' defenses haven't been better under his watch. The roster is partially to blame, but schematically they don't bring much versatility.
The two Shanahans are great guys, and you want them to succeed, but so far in Washington they haven't. This will be a make-or-break season, as the talent level is good enough for them to prove their worth.
19. Arizona Cardinals
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It seems like forever ago, but Ken Whisenhunt did lead this team to the Super Bowl. That alone keeps the Arizona Cardinals above water in our coaching staff rankings.
For all the promise, Whisenhunt and his right-hand man Russ Grimm haven't turned things around in Arizona after losing Kurt Warner to retirement. Their inability to find and develop a replacement at quarterback has crippled this franchise.
Ray Horton is in his second year as defensive coordinator, and judging by last season his defense will be aggressive and versatile. That combination makes Sunday afternoons very tough for the opposition.
The Cardinals coaches could be ranked higher, but the inability to bounce back from Warner's retirement is a black cloud hanging over the staff.
18. Seattle Seahawks
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Pete Carroll was doubted by many when he made the jump from USC to the NFL, but so far his Seattle Seahawks have been competitive in the NFC West. The potential is there for this coaching staff to move way up.
Carroll will have a lot of latitude in Seattle thanks to their playoff appearance and opening-round win over the New Orleans Saints in the 2010-11 season. That one win over the defending Super Bowl champs gave Carroll an extra boost of confidence in the city.
Carroll is essentially the CEO of Seahawks football, and he does a good job delegating to a strong staff. While Carroll is a defensive-minded coach and certainly impacts game-planning, he also trusts Gus Bradley to have the defense ready to go on game day.
On offense there's good chemistry with Tom Cable (offensive line/assistant head coach) and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, but the team made an odd gamble on Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback in 2011 that limited its ability to get off the ground.
How well Carroll and co. develop the quarterback situation in 2012, along with the continued improvement of the defense, will be the ultimate judge in how well this staff has performed.
17. Dallas Cowboys
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It should be no surprised that anything in Dallas receives a lot of hype, but the Cowboys' coaching staff is living largely off name and not performance. At least not yet.
Jason Garrett was hand-picked by Jerry Jones to lead his Cowboys back to the promised land, but so far Garrett has reigned over underachieving offenses. His first full season as head coach ended in a near miss at the playoffs, but that hasn't kept folks from expecting big things this year.
Garrett is the de facto guru on offense, even if Bill Callahan is listed as the offensive coordinator. Garrett and Callahan work hand-in-hand to execute the game plan each week. It's quite the opposite on defense, where Rob Ryan has complete autonomy to run his schemes as he sees fit.
Whether it's Garrett or Ryan, the high-priced coaches in Dallas have a ton of talent, but they need to produce in order to keep their jobs.
16. Carolina Panthers
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The first year of the Ron Rivera era in Carolina has to be seen as a success. Taking the Panthers from 2-14 to 6-10 with a rookie quarterback and an offseason decimated by a lockout was no small feat.
While we're at it, can we take a minute to honor the damn good job Rod Chudzinksi did with rookie Cam Newton at quarterback in 2011? Newton came into the season ready to roll thanks to Coach Chud's tutelage, and it was that preparation that led to his Offensive Rookie of the Year season.
Rivera and Chudzinski earned their salaries in 2011. The work of defensive coordinator Sean McDermott is still ongoing. Injuries to Jon Beason and Thomas Davis hurt the overall play of the unit, but Beason is back, and the team added rookie Luke Kuechly. If they struggle again in 2012, McDermott could see a change of scenery.
15. Detroit Lions
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You can't talk about the Detroit Lions' coaches without mentioning the intensity of Jim Schwartz. His famous handshake with Jim Harbaugh sums up the overall mentality and aggressive style he exudes and the style he wants his team to play with. Honestly, it's refreshing.
Schwartz is high-strung but productive. His teams in Detroit have improved every year, and now they look like serious contenders with a healthy Matthew Stafford. It's hard to argue against that.
The coordinator situation isn't as settled. Gunter Cunningham runs the defense, and he's a respected veteran, but he's struggled to reel in his over-aggressive defensive line—which leads to way too many openings in the run game. The secondary hasn't been exactly dominant either.
Scott Linehan does a good job on offense, and as is his M.O., the team passes the ball a ton. That works when you have Stafford and Calvin Johnson, though.
How can Detroit's coaches move up? Schwartz needs to work on keeping his players out of trouble off and on the field, but they also need more time to show what they can do on the field together.
14. Atlanta Falcons
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The head man for the Atlanta Falcons is Mike Smith, and unless your favorite team is one of the other three squads in the NFC South, he's a pretty likable coach.
Smith has done a good job as the head coach in Atlanta, taking the team to three playoff appearances in four years and posting a total win-loss record of 43-21. Smith has never had a losing season as head coach, something few can say.
The only reason Atlanta is ranked at No. 14 and not higher is because of the uncertainty at the coordinator positions. Mike Nolan (defense) and Dirk Koetter (offense) are in their first seasons with the team, and if they pan out Smith will get much-deserved credit. But if they don't—and many are hesitant about the hires—then Smith must take the blame.
13. Denver Broncos
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John Fox gets a ton of credit in my book for simply getting out of the way last season. When the Denver Broncos switched to Tim Tebow at quarterback, Fox and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy could have tried to force Tebow into a box and make him be the quarterback they thought they needed.
Instead, they let him run his offense—and to much criticism—but it worked. Fox was confident that a strong defense and an offense that was so simple the opposition started over-thinking situations could win ballgames. And it did.
Fox had to replace Dennis Allen at defensive coordinator, but he made a good hire in bringing Jack Del Rio to town after the Jacksonville Jaguars let him go. Del Rio will bring an intensity to the defense and should continue Allen's aggressive approach.
With Peyton Manning now at quarterback, the offense should be set. How well Fox and Del Rio shape the defense will decide if this unit moves up or down.
12. Philadelphia Eagles
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Andy Reid has been the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles since 1999—a true testament to a job well done. Reid has been on the hot seat (reportedly) several times, but his consistency is top-notch.
Reid does a good job dictating and surrounding himself with excellent coaches. Whether that's Marty Mornhinweg running the offense or Bobby April on special teams, the Eagles generally have great coordinators.
The one questionable move is sending Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator in 2011 after he had no experience on that side of the ball in the NFL or at a major college.
The assistants here may be better than the coordinators. Howard Mudd is one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL today, and the same goes for defensive line coach Jim Washburn. With a full offseason to coach and teach, their respective groups will be much improved this fall.
11. New York Jets
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Ryan is brash, loud and controversial, but he's also smart and calculated. If a head coach's job is to motivate his team, few do it better than Ryan. He's almost Bill Parcells-like in his approach, but it works.
Ryan hasn't surrounded himself with the best coordinators at times, and that's the case again in 2012. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano is a run-heavy coach on a team with no running backs who can carry the load. Sparano needs to show flexibility and adaptability this season.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine deserves a ton of credit for his ability to scheme with Darrelle Revis, but the Jets had no pass rush in 2011, and a lot of that is schematic. Pettine is a good coach, but his group needs to play better this season.
Ryan is great, and he has my respect, but the coaches around him need to prove themselves for the Jets to move up.
10. Chicago Bears
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Lovie Smith may still be on the dreaded "hot seat" in Chicago, but there is no doubting the Bears' coaching staff is one of the best in the NFL today.
Smith takes a lot of heat in the media, but when you evaluate the number of injuries his star players have been hit with, it's hard to blame the coach for any failures. Smith had this team in the NFC championship game just two years ago—something folks in Chicago would do well to remember.
The Mike Martz experiment failed, but Mike Tice as offensive coordinator should resonate with the team's mentality. Tice is an offensive line guru who will install a scheme that can actually protect Jay Cutler instead of sending him flying back on seven-step drops against Jared Allen.
The defense is Smith's domain, but Rod Marinelli has done an excellent job at every stop in his career as an assistant or coordinator. His work with the defensive line will free Smith up to handle more top-level needs of the team. Marinelli may not have worked as a head coach, but as an assistant few rival his ability on defense.
9. St. Louis Rams
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Plenty will balk at the St. Louis Rams being ranked this high, but Jeff Fisher is a damn good coach. Period.
Fisher's teams in Tennessee were always competitive, always hard-hitting and always disciplined. He may have worn out his welcome with Bud Adams, but Fisher's career there speaks for itself. Now that he's in a fresh situation with the Rams, his ability will show itself again.
The coaching staff received a punch in the mouth when defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended for his role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty-system. To date the team hasn't replaced him, officially. It's likely that assistant head coach Dave McGinnis will play a big part in replacing Williams, as his specialty is defense—as is Fisher's.
The offense will be run by Brian Schottenheimer with a big assist from wide receivers coach Ray Sherman. Schottenheimer didn't get a fair shake in New York at times, but he did get the team to the AFC championship game twice in a row with Mark Sanchez at quarterback.
8. San Francisco 49ers
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The first year of the Jim Harbaugh era was successful to say the least. Harbaugh took a team no one expected to win its division all the way to the conference championship game. Many, myself included, expect even more in 2012.
Harbaugh isn't a one-man show, though. He was smart about picking which coaches he wanted to turn around the proud franchise.
Hiring Vic Fangio to run the defense after working together at Stanford was the move of the year for the 49ers. Fangio's schemes immediately caught fire with the San Francisco players, and his ability to think outside the box led to many players—Carlos Rogers, Dashon Goldson—having career years.
The offense wasn't great, but they took it slow following the lockout. Harbaugh and Greg Roman did a stand-up job working with the talent around them. Alex Smith had his best season ever under the two, and the future looks bright for 2012.
Harbaugh may not be the NFL's best coach, but the job he did with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011 is one of the better one-year turnarounds we've seen.
7. Baltimore Ravens
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John Harbaugh and his Baltimore Ravens coaching staff come in one spot ahead of his brother Jim's 49ers thanks to more experience and a better system around him.
The Ravens did lose defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to the Indianapolis Colts this summer, but they'll slide Dean Pees into the coordinator's chair and shouldn't lose a step because of it. Pagano is a great coach, but Pees has been ready for this for years.
The offensive coaching hasn't been great here, to be fair. Some of that is because of Cam Cameron's schemes and hesitations to let Joe Flacco sling it downfield, but that has a good chance to change this season. Adding Jim Caldwell as an offensive assistant and quarterback coach was one of the more underrated moves in the league.
Harbaugh made the improbable move from special teams coach to head coach, and he's clearly one of the best in the business.
6. Cincinnati Bengals
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The Cincinnati Bengals have been through good times and bad with Marvin Lewis, but it looks like the good times are here to stay with his current staff.
Lewis signed a new contract taking him through the 2014 season, guaranteeing continuity for a coaching staff that has three innovative, smart men leading the way.
Lewis' decision to hire an Arena League coach to run his offense wasn't popular, but Jay Gruden was the most valuable new hire at offensive coordinator in the NFL.
Gruden was key to the strong play of rookies A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, and the fact that the two rookies could lead the team to the playoffs was a credit to his hard work and expertise. Gruden is a year or two away from an NFL head coaching gig.
The defense was a pleasant surprise under Mike Zimmer last season, and like Gruden he will be in line for his own head coaching job soon enough. Zimmer was able to get maximum production from a defense that featured few proven stars before the year began.
Lewis may not always be popular in his own city, but this coaching staff is the best the Bengals have seen since Bill Walsh was under Paul Brown.
5. Green Bay Packers
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One Super Bowl down in Green Bay, many more to go.
Mike McCarthy's Packers are one of the NFL's toughest teams to face each week. His ability to create an offense that attacks on every down shouldn't be overlooked.
Aaron Rodgers is a great player, but he owes a lot of that success to McCarthy and offensive coordinator Tom Clements. The two masterminds are able to create a game plan each week that exploits the defense, and it led to Rodgers having an MVP season in their 15-1 campaign last year.
The loss of Joe Philbin will hurt, but the Packers' entire roster of coaches is strong enough to overcome his departure to Miami. With former players like Alex Van Pelt and Edgar Bennett in place as position coaches, Green Bay will be just fine.
On defense there is a load of talented coaches. Coordinator Dom Capers is one of the all-time great defensive minds—even if their 2011 yards per game didn't show it. Capers oversees a defense with future head coach Winston Moss in charge of inside linebackers, former Pro Bowler Kevin Greene coaching the outside linebackers, former Steeler Darren Perry with the secondary and the irreplaceable Mike Trgovac taking on the line.
Green Bay has at least three future head coaches currently on the team as assistants. It's only a matter of time before Clements, Bennett and Moss see head coaching offers.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
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A bit of inside information: The Pittsburgh Steelers' head coach and defensive coordinator are two of my favorite football people in the world. How could they not be?
Running the ship is Mike Tomlin, who has quickly become one of the most charismatic and successful coaches in the NFL. He's the anti-Bill Belichick in that he's open and candid with most in the media—a nice change of pace from the "no comment" Belichick.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is the freaking father of the 3-4 zone blitz. He's an innovator and a Hall of Famer as a player—and could be again for his work as a defensive genius. And no one should look this good at 74 years old.
The offense saw a change with Todd Haley coming in to replace Bruce Arians, and that move alone is questionable. Haley hasn't been the easiest guy to work with, especially when he was in Arizona and Kansas City, but under strong leaders like LeBeau and Tomlin he has a chance to really affect the offense.
There are a handful of very good assistants here: Kirby Wilson is one of the best running back coaches in the NFL, and Keith Butler and Carnell Lake are excellent defensive assistants. From top to bottom, the Steelers have an awesome coaching staff.
3. New York Giants
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The New York Giants may be coached by the ultimate hard-ass, but he does a great job getting this team ready to play each week.
Tom Coughlin is a throwback to the days when people showed up early for meetings and said "yes sir" in reply to questions. Honestly, it's a damn good thing someone is still holding people accountable. Coughlin may not have been a locker room favorite when he first arrived, but two Super Bowls later, this is clearly his team.
Coughlin is more of an executive here, and he lets his assistants and coordinators handle a lot of the prep work each week. They can handle it, though.
Perry Fewell will be in line for an NFL head coaching job very soon if he keeps it up on the defensive side of the ball. He's young, bright and knows how to get a pass rush to produce against any front you throw at him. Fewell's defenses are among the most versatile in the NFL when it comes to line play.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will one day be praised for his work with Eli Manning. It wasn't that long ago when many were ready to write Manning off as an average quarterback. Now he's considered elite by most, if not all.
Credit Coughlin for changing the culture of this team, but he has an amazing support staff around him.
2. Houston Texans
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The combination of Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips seemed like an odd one before the 2011 NFL season, especially with Kubiak on the hot seat after failing to get the Texans into the playoffs. After watching Houston roll to the AFC South title last year, the two look like the perfect match.
Kubiak controls the offense for the Texans and is a big part of the reason they were able to plug in T.J. Yates—a fifth-round draft pick in 2011—and stay competitive once Matt Schaub went down at quarterback. They weathered the storm of losing Arian Foster and Andre Johnson due largely to Kubiak's game-planning and development skills.
As great as Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison are together, some major credit needs to be thrown to Phillips for taking a terrible defense and morphing it into one of the NFL's best in one offseason. Thanks to a great draft by Rick Smith and Phillips' coaching ability, the Texans defense is now one of the best in the game.
Kubiak has a great team around him in the coaches box, and he knows it. For the Texans to keep winning AFC South titles, this group needs to stick together.
1. New England Patriots
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How can you argue with the success that Bill Belichick has had in New England? His Patriots have appeared in five Super Bowls—winning three—over the last 12 seasons. In that time he's had one losing season, and it was his first year (2000) on the job. That alone is incredible.
Belichick's game-day coaching skills are legendary. He's shrewd, calculated and ballsy when he has to be. His cold demeanor resonates with a team that is taught to "do their job" on every play—and it works to the tune of nine straight 10-plus-win seasons.
Belichick not only coaches well, but he identifies other talented coaches too. His assistants this season are a who's who of NFL coaches. Josh McDaniels, Pepper Johnson, Dante Scarnecchia and Matt Patricia are some of the most respected coaches at their respective positions in the game.
Having Belichick clearly puts the Patriots on top, but the talent of the coaching team he's surrounded himself with insures success for New England.