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Hot Seat Update for Every NFL Head Coach This Offseason

Russell S. BaxterContributor IMay 8, 2013

Hot Seat Update for Every NFL Head Coach This Offseason

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    Free agency is settling down, the draft is history and the rookie free agents are in place.

    So the only thing left to do is to see where all 32 NFL head coaches are ranked these days in terms of job security.

    We’ll stick to some basic terms in terms of temperatures and give you an idea how these men stand in terms of their immediate or long-term futures.

    So from 10-1, from fiery or arctic, here’s a gauge of what the head coaching landscape looks like in the league in 2013.

    And here’s hoping one of these years, there won’t be any changes of this group when we open 2014.
    There’s nothing wrong with being idealistic.

Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions: Fiery

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    In four seasons in the Motor City, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz owns a 22-43 overall record with the team, which includes the team’s playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints in 2011.

    Speaking of 2011, it’s worth noting that 10 of those 22 wins came that year. It was a season in which the Lions opened 5-0, the franchise’s best start since 1956.

    Since then and including the postseason loss at the Superdome, Detroit is 9-19 and enters 2013 riding an eight-game losing streak. And the club’s 4-12 finish a year ago marked the third time in four years under Schwartz that the Lions lost at least 10 games.

    The heat is on, indeed.

Rex Ryan, New York Jets: Fiery

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    It’s been a Noah’s Ark-like tenure for New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan with the franchise.

    A pair of appearances in the AFC Championship Game has been followed by consecutive non-winning seasons.

    And Ryan’s quarterback, Mark Sanchez, has had two straight seasons in which he’s committed exactly 26 turnovers.

    Now the Jets are hoping that a pair of first-round draft choices in cornerback Dee Milliner and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson as well as rookie quarterback Geno Smith (a pick in Round No. 2) can keep the rebuilt Jets afloat.

    So Year No. 5 with the Green and White could indeed by a trying one for the Jets and Ryan, who hopes that it doesn’t end with a toodle-oo from management.

Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys: Sizzling

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    It is about that time, isn’t it?

    When we start wondering if Dallas Cowboys head honcho Jerry Jones may be contemplating a head-coaching change with his team.

    It’s interesting to note that for the first 29 years of its existence, this franchise had one head coach in the form of Pro Football Hall of Famer Tom Landry.

    Jason Garrett is the seventh head coach under Jones which dates back to 1989. And to make matters even more intriguing, none of the previous six men lasted more than five years on the job.

    Since the Cowboys finished 11-5 and won the NFC East in 2009, the team is 22-26 and hasn’t had a winning season since.

    Think Garrett has his feet in the fire? Stay tuned.

Mike Munchak, Tennessee Titans: Hot

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    In 2011, Mike Munchak replaced Jeff Fisher as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans and led the club to a 9-7 record, three games better than his predecessor the year before.

    A year ago, the team fell back to 6-10, and not only did the Titans allow a league-high 471 points, that total was the highest in the 53-year history of the franchise dating back to the days of the Houston Oilers.

    So why would Munchak, in just his third year on the job, be facing so much heat? The club was extremely active in free agency this offseason, adding guard Andy Levitre (Buffalo Bills), strong safety Bernard Pollard (Baltimore Ravens) and tight end Delanie Walker (San Francisco 49ers).

    A lack of improvement given the investment may make for a short stay for Munchak, despite his Hall of Fame resume as a player.

Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers: Hot

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    The Carolina Panthers are now two seasons removed from the 2-14 nightmare of 2010.

    But are they really any closer to winning the NFC South for the first time since 2008?

    Yes, head coach Ron Rivera has led the team to 6-10 and 7-9 finishes, respectively, in his first two seasons. But the thing that has to be driving Panthers’ management crazy is the back-to-back awful starts by the club. Carolina has opened 2-8 in each of those aforementioned campaigns.

    Many will say it’s not how you start but how you finish. Led by quarterback Cam Newton, the Panthers won four of their last six games in 2011 and won four straight and five of their last six games a year ago.

    But you can’t keep digging holes like Rivera and the Panthers have the last two Octobers plus. And another sluggish start may not end well this time around.

Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans: Warm

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    The Houston Texans first took the field in 2002 and four seasons later, Gary Kubiak took over as head coach.

    After five more seasons of frustration, the team finally broke through in 2011, winning the first of what are now two straight AFC South titles.

    But while there’s cause for celebration, there’s also the feeling of it’s now time to take the next step. In each season, the team won a playoff game over the Cincinnati Bengals only to fall in the divisional round a week later.

    All the pieces are in place for a Super Bowl run for the Texans. Free agency solidified some spots via the additions of safety Ed Reed, fullback Greg Jones and punter Shane Lechler. And rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins figures to contribute as well.

    But failure to reach at least the AFC title game this time around may make things more than uncomfortable for Kubiak, who has more years as the head coach in Houston than Mike Munchak (Tennessee Titans), Chuck Pagano (Indianapolis Colts) and Gus Bradley (Jacksonville Jaguars) do at their current positions.

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants: Warm

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    Not again?

    Sorry. The hot seat is just a natural part of being the head coach of the New York Giants.

    But for Tom Coughlin, despite a pair of Super Bowl wins with the franchise, it’s been a long and sometimes strange run with Big Blue.

    Great starts are often followed by lackadaisical finishes. The team has won Super Bowls following 10-6 and 9-7 finishes in 2007 and 2011, respectively. The Giants also failed to reach the postseason following 10-6 (2010) and 9-7 (2012) campaigns.

    And the ability to “turn it on when they had to” just didn’t fly a year ago for this team, which missed the playoffs for the third time in four years.

    It’s an interesting dynamic and one that could perhaps bear some watching.

Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars: Warm

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    Didn’t Gus Bradley just take over the head coaching job with the Jacksonville Jaguars?

    So how could he possibly be this high on the list?

    It may have nothing to do with Bradley at all, but it’s interesting to note the recent head-coaching history of the team.

    Meaning it hasn’t taken long for someone to become history in terms of the job. Longtime head coach Jack Del Rio was let go with five games remaining in the 2011 season and then-defensive coordinator Mel Tucker took over. Last season, Mike Mularkey led the team to a 2-14 finish, the worst in franchise history.

    That means that when Bradley takes the field in Week 1 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, the Jaguars will have their fourth head coach in their last 23 games.

    Safe to say there’s plenty of work to be done here. 

Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons: Cool

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    Since Mike Smith arrival in 2008, the Atlanta Falcons own a 56-24 record in the regular season. Only the New England Patriots (60-20) have been better over that span.

    But the Falcons also own a 1-4 mark in the playoffs the last five years despite being the NFC’s top seed in 2010 and 2012.

    This was franchise that had never enjoyed either consecutive winning seasons and/or playoff berths prior to Smith’s tenure. The Falcons have finished above .500 each year under Smith and been to the postseason three straight and four of the last five campaigns.

    Hot seat for Smith? No. But the chair in his office may be a bit warm.

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints: Cool

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    How on earth could Super Bowl winning head coach Sean Payton be somewhere on the middle of this list?

    Could he be blamed for the team’s disappointing 7-9 showing in 2012? After all, he wasn’t even with the club, busy serving a one-year suspension for his role in the “Bounty Gate” scandal.

    But could that also be a part of why Payton, who led the team to a win in Super Bowl XLIV and four playoff appearances in his first six seasons, may be feeling a little pressure.

    Last year’s unprecedented offseason aside, he’s still the man in charge. And who could imagine that the Saints would not only be without him for an entire season but wound up fielding the worst defensive unit in NFL history in terms of yards allowed in a season in 2012?

    No one’s giving Payton the boot. But until the Saints rediscover that opportunistic touch on the defensive side of the ball similar to 2009, all of Drew Brees’ yards and all of Drew Brees’ touchdown passes won’t be enough to put a Super Bowl title back together again.

Rob Chudzinski, Cleveland Browns: Chilly

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    For goodness sake, let the man take off his coat and allow him to stay awhile.

    No, this is not to say that new Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski is already in trouble. Hardly.

    In fact, he along with the additions of offensive coordinator Norv Turner and defensive coordinator Ray Horton give the Browns as tremendous trio in terms of leadership.

    But this is a franchise that has lacked continuity since reappearing in 1999. Chudzinski is the team’s seventh different head coach over that span. And the Browns have enjoyed just two winning seasons and one playoff appearance in 14 years.

    And in a division that has produced at least two playoff teams each of the last five seasons, as well as three AFC champions over that span, Chudzinski has his work cut out for him.

Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cold

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    It was going pretty well for head coach Greg Schiano and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012.

    Then again, you have to play out the entire season.

    The former Rutgers University sideline leader had his new team off to a 6-4 start. And that was pretty impressive considering the Bucs stopped winning altogether in 2011 after opening 4-2.

    Still, playoff contention turned into descent-ion. As in falling out of the postseason picture via a five-game losing streak, hence a 7-9 record and a second straight last-place finish in the NFC South.

    Could Schiano actually be on tenuous ground in only his second season? Not really. But it will be interesting to see how the Buccaneers respond as the team continues to acquire top-flight talent (aka cornerback Darrelle Revis).

Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins: Cold

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    You may have seen a buzzard or two circling the nation’s capital last November.

    That’s because Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, off two losing seasons in as many years with the club, saw his team open with six losses in nine games.

    But rookie quarterback Robert Griffin was one of the catalysts that turned “III” wins into a season-ending seven-game winning streak and the team’s first division title since 1999.

    Of course, following last season’s divisional playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Griffin’s health and availability at the start of 2013 has been one of the more discussed topics for football fans this offseason.

    But regardless of Griffin's status, can Shanahan survive a third losing season in four years should that indeed be the case?

John Fox, Denver Broncos: Cold

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    Two years at the helm and two AFC West titles for John Fox and the Denver Broncos.

    So is the one-time Carolina Panthers head coach (who led the team to Super Bowl XXXVIII) feeling any pressure in the Mile High City?

    It’s hard to imagine. But following last season’s enormously disappointing home playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Fox and Co. know they must do better in 2013.

    Anytime Peyton Manning is your quarterback, expectations are high. And with offseason additions such as wide receiver Wes Welker, a gain for the Broncos and a loss for the rival New England Patriots, the pressure to win it all will increase.

    We’ll soon find out just how sly Fox can be.

Dennis Allen, Oakland Raiders: Cold

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    It wasn’t exactly a scintillating debut for head coach Dennis Allen with the Oakland Raiders in 2012.

    In his first year at the helm, the Silver and Black finished 4-12 following back-to-back 8-8 seasons in 2010 and 2011. It’s safe to say that it was yet another step backwards for a franchise that has been headed in reverse for 10 straight years.

    Perhaps what made last season’s showing so disappointing was the fact that the Oakland defense was a major issue. And that was Allen’s forte, given the fact that he was the Denver Broncos’ defensive coordinator prior to being hired by the Raiders.

    He’ll get a chance to make amends this season with a new-look defense rebuilt through free agency. And the addition of quarterback Matt Flynn figures to help as well.

    It will be interesting to see how much patience will be exercised by general manager Reggie McKenzie.

Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers: Cold

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    What to make of the Green Bay Packers these days?

    Since winning Super Bowl XLV with a 10-6 record in 2010, head coach Mike McCarthy has led the team to consecutive NFC North titles and a combined 26-6 record.

    In the 31 games that quarterback Aaron Rodgers has played, the 2011 league MVP has thrown 84 touchdown passes and just 14 interceptions.

    And yet, the Pack hasn’t even gotten back to the NFC title game the last two years.

    So is McCarthy in trouble with the team? Or could defensive coordinator Dom Capers be on the hot seat? The Packers have allowed a combined 82 points in their last two playoff losses.

    Since we’re talking Wisconsin, expect a little extra blue cheese with this order. For this team’s sake, let’s hope that 2013 doesn’t turn out to be a season of the blues.

Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings: Frosty

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    Leslie Frazier inherited the Minnesota Vikings late in 2010 when head coach Brad Childress was relieved of his job.

    And given the start of his era in the Twin Cities, he didn’t figure to be long for the job as well. Frazier posted a 6-16 record in his first 22 contests. That included a 3-13 record in 2011, tied for the most losses in a season in Vikings’ history.

    But in one of the better turnarounds of the season, Minnesota was a 10-6 club in 2012 and captured a wild-card berth. The team fell short in the playoffs at Lambeau Field but the future appears to be bright for the Purple Gang. The club has added five first-round picks to the roster in the last two drafts, including three in April.

    Moving up in the very competitive NFC North is a tall order but the Vikings appear primed to pull it off. But what happens if the team falls on its face?

    The headlines in Minneapolis could indeed read “Down Goes Frazier.”

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals: Frosted

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    Want to know one of the better kept secrets around the league? Cincinnati Bengals Marvin Lewis is the second-longest tenured head coach in the league with the same team, surpassed only by New England’s Bill Belichick.

    The Bengals have also been in the playoffs two straight years and three of the last four seasons, a fact that may also surprise some.

    But the franchise also hasn’t tasted success in the postseason since 1990, when Cincinnati defeated the then-Houston Oilers in the Wild Card Playoffs.

    That’s not all Lewis’ fault. But the head coach is 0-4 in the playoffs with this team. And if the Bengals made it back to the playoffs for what would be a franchise record third straight year, a lot will be expected.

Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins: Frosted

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    By all accounts, head coach Joe Philbin did an outstanding job in his first year at the controls of the Miami Dolphins.

    After a frustrating 1-3 start, the team split its final 12 games to finish 7-9. And while in marked the fourth straight losing season for the ‘Fins, it was evident that progress has been made.

    But Philbin faces a different kind of pressure in 2013 and it’s called high expectations. The Dolphins were one of the league’s most aggressive teams during both free agency and the draft.

    The team signed coveted players such as wide receiver Mike Wallace and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. And in April, general manager Jeff Ireland moved up nine spots in the first round to grab talented pass-rusher Dion Jordan from the University of Oregon.

    No one may be expecting the Dolphins to unseat the New England Patriots in the AFC East. But a failure to reach the playoffs may be considered a big disappointment.

Doug Marrone, Buffalo Bills: Frosted

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    Head coach of the Buffalo Bills. It’s become a daunting task indeed.

    The franchise that made an unprecedented four straight Super Bowl appearances and eight trips to the playoffs in the 1990s hasn’t been back to the postseason since.

    Enter Doug Marrone. The longtime coach, late of Syracuse University, has made his way around the NFL but this is his first job as a head coach in the league.

    The Bills have finished in last place in the AFC East in each of the last five seasons. The team also have new quarterbacks in veteran Kevin Kolb and rookie first-rounder EJ Manuel.

    Let’s see if Marrone finally proves to be the difference for this once-proud franchise.

Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs: Frosted

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    What are the odds that the head coach of a team that finished with 37 turnovers, 13 takeaways and a minus-24 turnover differential would take over a club with those identical statistics as well in 2012?

    Welcome Andy Reid, late of the Philadelphia Eagles and now with the Kansas City Chiefs.

    The highly-regarded sideline leader never delivered a Super Bowl championship in 14 seasons in the City of Brotherly Love. But he’s hoping to not only grab his first Lombardi Trophy as a head coach; he’d love to do it for a franchise that hasn’t won a league title since 1969.

    Still, Reid’s last two seasons with the Eagles saw him fail to post a winning campaign. Will the leash be a little tighter in Kansas City?

Marc Trestman, Chicago Bears: Frosted

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    Despite a 10-win season in the Windy City last season, there was no love for the Chicago Bears as they failed to reach the playoffs.

    And now, there’s no Lovie in Chicago as well.

    Lovie Smith was let go after posting an 84-66 overall record (including playoffs) with the franchise dating back to 2005. Only George Halas and Mike Ditka managed more wins as head coach for this storied franchise.

    Enter Marc Trestman, who’s made the rounds in professional football but will be an NFL head coach for the first time.

    We’re going on nearly 30 years since the Bears shuffled their way to a Super Bowl title in New Orleans. And Trestman knows that knocking off the Packers is priority one for the team if they intend on recapturing the NFC North, something the Bears did in 2010.

    At the very least, it will be interesting to watch quarterback Jay Cutler’s performance under Trestman in 2013.

Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles: Frozen

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    So how will new head coach Chip Kelly fare in his first season at the helm of the Philadelphia Eagles?

    More importantly, how will new head coach Chip Kelly fare in his first season at the helm of the Philadelphia Eagles?

    The former University of Oregon sideline leader takes over a talented team that will have a lot of new faces on the defensive side of the football. On offense, we’re not truly sure if Michael Vick will be the starting quarterback but there’s plenty of talent at the skill positions with running back LeSean McCoy, wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, and tight end Brent Celek.

    Now we’ll just have to wait and see if Kelly’s offense will actually take wing in the NFL. As we all know, ducks fly but eagles soar.

Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers: Frozen

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    After a steady diet of Norv Turner, the San Diego Chargers opted to change the menu and go with some local cuisine.

    Local as in their AFC West neighbors as Mike McCoy takes over as the Bolts’ head coach after a stint as offensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos.

    McCoy inherits a team that has missed the playoffs each of the last three seasons after San Diego won four straight division titles.

    The focus for the new head coach has to be veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, who is entering his 10th NFL campaign. The Chargers have committed 54 turnovers in their last 32 games and Rivers is responsible for 47 of those miscues.

    If McCoy can fix the former Pro Bowl quarterback and what ails him in terms of ball security, it could be a pleasant debut season for the first-time NFL head coach.

Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals: Frozen

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    How much of a hot seat can the 2012 NFL Coach of the Year be on?

    A year ago, then-Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians took over the interim reins while first-time head coach Chuck Pagano dealt with leukemia.

    The Colts went from 2-14 to 11-5 and reached the playoffs in 2012. It was one of the great stories of last season, a testament to how much emotion remains a part of this great game.

    Now Arians gets his first NFL head-coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals, a team that is a combined 18-30 the last three seasons after winning back-to-back division titles in 2008 and 2009.

    Don’t bet against Arians and Co., even in the rugged NFC West. The Cardinals’ defense is solid and quarterback Carson Palmer could thrive under the head coach.

Jeff Fisher, St. Louis Rams: Frozen

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    Once upon a time not so long ago, Jeff Fisher’s was the NFL’s longest-tenured head coach with the same team.

    Late in 1994, Fisher inherited the Houston Oilers and a few cities and a name change later, he coached the Tennessee Titans through 2010, leading the club to Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999.

    After a one-year hiatus, the defensive-oriented coach took over the struggling St. Louis Rams, who finished 2-14 in 2011. Fisher led the team to a 7-8-1 finish and perhaps more significantly, owned a 4-1-1 record vs. his division rivals. The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers spent 10 quarters in 2012 trying to beat the Rams and managed a tie and a loss.

    Fisher intends on making it even harder on all opponents this season.

Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts: Frozen

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    In his first season as an NFL head coach, Chuck Pagano helped lead the Indianapolis Colts to an unexpected playoff berth in 2012.

    Of course, Pagano dealt with the unexpected for most of the year. But love and desire was enough for the highly-regarded gentleman to battle and overcome a much bigger opponent…leukemia.

    Now Pagano is back at the helm as the Colts look to follow up with bigger and better things in 2013. Led by second-year quarterback Andrew Luck and a revamped defense, the team hopes to make the two-time defending AFC South champion Houston Texans sweat a little this season…a season that Pagano figures to enjoy from start to finish.

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks: Frozen

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    The third year in the Pacific Northwest proved to be pretty charming for Pete Carroll.

    After consecutive 7-9 finishes with the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 and 2011 (the former resulting in a stunning division title), Carroll and Co. won 11 games this past season and returned to the playoffs.

    And with young quarterback Russell Wilson at the controls, along with allowing the fewest points in the NFL in 2012, the Seahawks figure to be in the mix for Super Bowl XLVIII.

    Then again, should the team digress this season; it will be interesting to see what the ramifications could actually be…

    That is…for Pete’s sake.

Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers: Arctic

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers have had three head coaches since 1969.

    It started with Chuck Noll, winner of four Super Bowls in the 1970s. Bill Cowher took over in 1992 and lasted 15 years, taking the club to a pair of Super Bowls, including a win in XL.

    Mike Tomlin inherited the job in 2007, won a division title his first season and a Lombardi Trophy in 2008. Two years later, the Steelers were back in the Super Bowl, although they fell short in XLV.

    Now Tomlin and his club comes off an disappointing 8-8 campaign, the first time in six years that the head coach did not lead the team to a winning record.

    Panic in the Steel City? I think we all know better than that.

Bill Belichick, New England Patriots: Arctic

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    He now owns the title of the NFL head coach with the longest current tenure with the same team.

    Of course, New England Patriots sideline leader Bill Belichick owns a lot more than that.

    While some like to focus on what the Pats haven’t done as of late, the dynasty continues in Foxboro. The franchise has enjoyed a winning season in each of the last 12 years, tied for the seventh-longest such streak in league history.

    And unless the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills intend to do something surprising in 2013 (certainly not an impossibility), the Patriots continue to own the AFC East.

    Just remember. Another Super Bowl appearance by Belichick ties him with Don Shula for the most in league annals. And another Super Bowl victory ties him with Chuck Noll for the most ever as well.

    Enough said.

Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers: Arctic

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    Two years on the job and if the natural progression continues, it could be a happy 2013 for San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.

    Two years after falling short in the NFC Championship Game and one season removed from a loss in Super Bowl XLVII, an NFL title may be on the horizon for the intense head coach and the franchise.

    Not to be a killjoy, but the last team to lose the Super Bowl, then win the Super Bowl the following season was the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Don Shula’s team lost in Super Bowl VI then went 17-0 en route to winning Super Bowl VII.

    Can Harbaugh and the Niners end put an end to that dubious statistic? It seems that he and the franchise will have plenty of opportunities over the next few seasons to earn a Lombardi Trophy.

John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens: Arctic

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    How secure is Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh with the club?

    Five seasons with the franchise and five playoff appearances, including back-to-back division titles. Since Harbaugh arrived in 2008, the team has won at least one postseason game each year. And it all culminated in 2012 with a magnificent playoff run and the club’s first NFL championship since Super Bowl XXXV.

    Obviously there are challenges ahead. Retirement, free agency and trades have robbed the team of veterans such as linebacker Ray Lewis, free safety Ed Reed and wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

    But in Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome the Ravens trust. Few teams are in better hands.

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