Midseason Report Card Grades for Every NFL Head Coach
Through Week 7, we are (almost) halfway through the 2012 NFL season.
How depressing is that?
Now that it's midseason, it's time for grades.
It is always difficult to grade head coaches because of the lack of public information, but it has to be done. Though information is scarce, there is still enough available to make approximate judgments. So that's exactly what we're going to do.
Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Greg Schiano came into Tampa Bay with the intention of instilling discipline. That doesn't appear to have been particularly effective thus far, as the Buccaneers are once again underachieving. In fact, the only thing of note Schiano has done is draw scathing criticism for foul play.
With a 3-4 record, Tampa Bay hasn't been awful, but it has lost to some beatable teams. The Buccaneers defense has struggled, and their offense has been merely average.
There's no denying the talent on the Buccaneers, but the team is not playing up to their ability. Some of that blame deserves to fall on Schiano.
Aaron Kromer, New Orleans Saints
With head coach Sean Payton and several defensive players suspended, the New Orleans Saints weren't expected to play up to previous standards. Not many expected them to be quite this bad, though.
At 2-4, New Orleans has been one of the NFL's worst teams.
On paper, the Saints are far better than that. And often, when the paper doesn't match up with the on-field performance, coaching is at fault.
Aaron Kromer is actually the Saints' third head coach behind both Payton and Joe Vitt, but he has coached the team to this point.
The results obviously haven't been good.
The only defense—albeit a legitimate one—for Kromer is the awful situation he stepped into.
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
No one really expected the Carolina Panthers to be a good team in 2012. However, people also didn't expect the team's offense to go from elite to below average.
Ron Rivera doesn't have much to do with Carolina's offense, but that doesn't absolve him of the blame. There have been some issues with Cam Newton's progression, and perhaps Rivera should have been more on top of them.
However, it's hard to blame Rivera much here. The Panthers are a young, inexperienced team. The team's record falls more on the roster than the coaches.
Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons
Well, the Atlanta Falcons are 6-0, so it's hard to be too critical of Mike Smith. The Falcons have progressed from a year ago and now stand as one of the NFL's best teams.
Smith is a solid coach, as his continued success with Atlanta suggests. After a few solid years, though, it seems like the Falcons are finally busting out.
As a coach who makes few mistakes, Smith is beyond criticism at this point. His own abilities and the Falcons' record ensures that.
Mike Munchak, Tennessee Titans
Despite a 3-4 record, the Tennessee Titans have been pretty awful. They are near the bottom of the league in both defense and offense, which isn't exactly a good sign of things to come.
In Mike Munchak's defense, Tennessee isn't an overly talented team in Jake Locker's absence. There is youth on both sides of the ball as well, so even going 3-4 is impressive at this point.
However, Munchak hasn't done anything to stand out.
Chuck Pagano/Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts
Chuck Pagano unfortunately had to take a leave of absence after being diagnosed with leukemia, so it's hard to evaluate his job thus far with the Indianapolis Colts. And Bruce Arians hasn't been on the job long as Indianapolis' interim head coach.
Before his diagnosis, Pagano had the Colts playing reasonably well. The team remains incredibly young and inexperienced, so their 3-3 record is quite impressive at this point.
Arians has made some questionable decisions thus far, but he's done a good job of leading the team through a difficult situation. Many coaches would have done far worse.
Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
Thus far in 2012, the Houston Texans have been the NFL's best team.
But while Houston is certainly talented, it would be ignorant to not give the coaching staff—including Gary Kubiak—quite a bit of credit.
Kubiak's offense has been effective, but his overall team management has been his strength. Oh, and the simple fact that he hired Wade Phillips doesn't hurt.
When a team is as good as the 2012 Texans are, the coach is beyond criticism. Clearly, Gary Kubiak is doing something right.
Mike Mularkey, Jacksonville Jaguars
Arguably the worst team in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars need to improve across the board, including along the coaching staff.
Mike Mularkey was brought in to help Blaine Gabbert, and the former first-round pick is as awful as ever.
Jacksonville is at the bottom of the NFL in both offense and defense. Right now, there simply isn't a positive to find.
It's hard to imagine the Jaguars not clearing house at the end of 2012. Gene Smith's firing is long overdue, and Mularkey has already earned his.
Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers have had a couple of rough games, but on the whole, they've been excellent. Only Alex Smith's recent struggles have put a damper on the season.
Like last year, Jim Harbaugh is on the top of his game. His scheme has made San Francisco's offense much more successful, and he's done a fantastic job of managing the team.
Right now, there are few better coaches in the NFL than Harbaugh. His abilities are a huge part of the 49ers' success.
Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals
As expected, the Arizona Cardinals defense has been excellent. The offense, however, not so much (also as expected).
However, there is no blaming the coaching staff for the offense's lack of success. No coach in the world could make a John-Skelton/Kevin-Kolb-led offense score.
The Cardinals haven't been as successful in recent years, but Ken Whisenhunt remains a good coach. He simply needs more talent, and the wins will come.
That's not to say Whisenhunt is elite, but he's certainly above average.
Jeff Fisher, St. Louis Rams
Surprisingly, the St. Louis Rams are currently 3-4—in part due to their top 10 defense. The team is young and showing clear signs of progression.
Offensively, St. Louis has continued to struggle, but that's primarily due to the unit's overall lack of talent.
When Jeff Fisher arrived in St. Louis, he brought about an immediate change in the team's success. It's hard to give Fisher too much credit, though, because the Rams still aren't great. But he has certainly made them into a better team than expected.
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
Prior to the start of the season, the Seattle Seahawks were expected to have a pretty good defense and a questionable offense. And that expectation has been on the money.
Pete Carroll has clearly made a huge impact on the team's defense. In all honesty, Seattle isn't overly talented, but Carroll and the coaching staff have done a great job.
Seattle still has some work to do, but the coaching staff is not at all the problem.
John Fox, Denver Broncos
Despite adding Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos are just 3-3. This isn't to say that this lack of great success is John Fox's fault, but something is amiss.
Denver doesn't have a ton of talent outside of Manning on either side of the ball, however, so Fox can't be blamed too much.
The team hasn't exactly met expectations, but those expectations were a bit unrealistic heading into the season anyway.
Peyton Manning has clearly made a huge difference, but Fox has been decent as well.
Dennis Allen, Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders, as expected, have been pretty bad. To blame that on Dennis Allen, however, would be quite foolish.
The Raiders have a distinct lack of talent across the board, starting at quarterback. Allen hasn't done anything to make Oakland better, but he hasn't made them worse, either.
Given the lack of talent on the Raiders, it's difficult to truly evaluate Allen's abilities. For the moment, though, he deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs
Looking at the Kansas City Chiefs roster, there is a plethora of talent. Yet Kansas City sits with a 1-5 record.
The Chiefs have an obvious problem at quarterback with Matt Cassel, but the team shouldn't be performing as badly as it has been because of one player. Romeo Crennel is clearly a problem.
Crennel failed as a head coach in Cleveland, and he isn't off to a good start with the Chiefs. There is simply too much talent on Kansas City's roster for the team to be performing this poorly.
Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
Until recently, the San Diego Chargers were an offensive powerhouse, scoring almost at will. Now, under supposed offensive genius Norv Turner, the entire offense is struggling
Philip Rivers has thrown far too many interceptions and made far too few big plays. That, along with Turner's terrible game management, is a scathing indictment of the coach.
Turner has struggled to handle the entire team, and he has completely mismanaged Ryan Mathews. If Turner isn't fired after this year, the Chargers will have made yet another mistake.
Pat Shurmur, Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns aren't exactly full of talent, but Pat Shurmur is as inept of a head coach as there is in the NFL. His offensive scheme and play-calling are both horrendous, and his team rarely even looks alive.
Cleveland has some holes throughout its roster, but Shurmur proves himself inadequate week in and week out. He routinely botches easy decisions, holding back the team.
Though Shurmur has been in Cleveland for under two years, he clearly needs to be replaced. There is no future for the Browns under Pat Shurmur.
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
Under Marvin Lewis, the Cincinnati Bengals have been consistently below average. That has been no different this year, as the team currently stands at 3-4.
If the Bengals have a talented team, they will play up to their performance. However, Lewis will not lead the team to play above its talent level. It will simply play as well as it should.
At this point, it's quite clear that Lewis is a perfectly average coach. He'll never be anything more or anything less.
John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
Since John Harbaugh took over the Baltimore Ravens, the team has been quite successful. Obviously, the talent level on the team has helped, but Harbaugh certainly hasn't hurt the team.
Some of Baltimore's elite talent has aged, but the team has still managed to consistently compete. General manager Ozzie Newsome deserves most of the credit here, but Harbaugh gets some too.
Harbaugh isn't among the NFL's truly elite head coaches; he is, however, better than most. Baltimore could do a lot worse at head coach.
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
For the past few years, the Pittsburgh Steelers have seemed to be on a slight downward spiral. Now, in 2012, we're starting to see it, as the team's 3-3 record indicates.
Mike Tomlin has found some success with Pittsburgh, but it's hard to say that it's been because of his own coaching ability. Tomlin has benefited from excellent assistant coaches and an excellent roster.
With that said, Tomlin does a great job of managing his coaches, and his players seem to respect him. In other words, Tomlin doesn't have a negative impact on his team.
Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
Surprisingly, the Minnesota Vikings currently stand at 5-3. It's difficult to come up with one singular reason as to why this is the case, but the team's success has been a surprise.
Minnesota has some talent, but its performance thus far was still unexpected.
Leslie Frazier has made some mistakes, but his team is playing hard and performing well. The Vikings defense has been particularly good, which Frazier has no doubt influenced.
In 2012, Frazier has been a pleasant surprise for many after a terrible 2011 season.
Jim Schwartz , Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are perhaps 2012's most disappointing team. After a brilliant 2011 campaign, the team's offense has struggled.
Detroit's talent level hasn't changed since last year, but the team's performance has. Frequently, coaching is an issue in these situations, and Jim Schwartz deserves his share of the blame.
There's no way to categorize the Lions' season thus far as anything but a failure. Schwartz is to blame for much of this.
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers haven't been quite as good in 2012 as they were last year, but they are slowly picking up their play. Even so, Green Bay is one of the better teams in the NFL.
Mike McCarthy has coached one of the league's best teams throughout the past few years, but he rarely receives the credit he deserves. Even as the Packers struggle some, McCarthy is doing a good job of leading the team.
Green Bay may have gotten off to a slow start, but the team didn't play poorly. Now, as they rebound, both the Packers and McCarthy are in prime form.
Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears
For the first time in years, the Chicago Bears are one of the NFL's best teams. Chicago's defense has been superb, and Lovie Smith has no doubt had an impact on the unit.
Sitting at 5-1, the Bears have clearly been dominant. Teams have struggled to score on them, and they are even scoring a little themselves.
Smith has done a fantastic job of managing Chicago's coaches and players throughout the year.
He has secured his job after a couple tremulous seasons in recent years.
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
The New York Giants offense is more dominant than ever in 2012, and Tom Coughlin is finally starting to receive the recognition he deserves. For once, the longtime head coach is being named as one of the league's premier coaches.
Even after winning the Super Bowl last year, the Giants entered 2012 a bit under the radar. The team's offensive success has reversed this perception, and Coughlin's influence has directly contributed to the offense's dominance.
There are few, if any, coaches better than Coughlin right now. His presence is consistently overlooked when evaluating the Giants.
Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
Despite a top-ranked offense and defense, the Philadelphia Eagles sit at just 3-3.
Philadelphia has bordered on mediocrity for years, and that seems to be the case yet again in 2012. This time, though, the issue certainly is not a lack of talent.
Reid isn't a bad coach by any means, but by now, it's time for a change. He isn't doing much good for the Eagles.
Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins
The story of the Washington Redskins in 2012 is quite clearly Robert Griffin III.
However, Mike Shanahan's presence should not be overlooked, as his scheme has had a significant impact on Griffin's success. Without Shanahan, Griffin would not have been nearly as effective this year.
Though the Redskins haven't been great, Shanahan has done a fantastic job with the Redskins offense. He has greatly benefited the entire Washington team, as well as the offense, however.
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have an incredibly talented roster, yet they consistently underachieve. This could be the result of the players on the team but often is because of a distinct lack of coaching ability.
Jason Garrett hasn't created a winner in Dallas yet, despite the incredible talent on the roster. At this point, there is significant reason for skepticism regarding his actual coaching abilities.
The Cowboys currently stand at 3-3, but their talent is far greater than that record. Coaching appears to be a significant issue here.
Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills defense is horrific, and the offense is merely average.
In his third year with the Bills, Chan Gailey has failed to make much happen.
Gailey's offensive scheme has some value, but it isn't working right now. And to date, nothing Gailey has done in Buffalo has worked for the benefit of the team.
After this much time, Gailey has had a chance to prove himself. He's been hindered some by personnel, but he clearly isn't getting the job done.
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Per the usual, Bill Belichick is among the NFL's best coaches. No other coach contributes as much in every aspect of the game or is as smart as him in any aspect of the game.
The New England Patriots defense has continued to struggle in 2012, but his offense has dominated. Although New England isn't the best team in the NFL, Belichick is among the best coaches.
When New England's talent level is deficient, Belichick picks the team up. He continues to run a team better than anyone else in the league.
Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins
Despite having an offensive talent level well below most teams, the Miami Dolphins are 3-3. This shows how good of a job Joe Philbin and his staff have done at developing young players.
Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has played impressively, largely due to Philbin's work. The team hasn't been great yet, but it is considerably better than it was a year ago.
There is still plenty of work to do in Miami. However, Joe Philbin and Co. have the team on the right track to success.
Rex Ryan, New York Jets
The New York Jets have been awful in 2012. Recent years have given New York high expectations, but the team has fallen far short in 2012.
The Jets aren't as talented as many other teams, but they are better than their record suggests.
Rex Ryan exceeded the hype in his first year with the Jets; however, he has not performed at that same level since then. Ryan had his chance as a head coach in the NFL. He succeeded at first, but he is currently failing. It's time for the Jets to move on.
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