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Ranking NFL's Top 10 Coaching Staffs

Kristopher KnoxFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2014

Ranking NFL's Top 10 Coaching Staffs

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Sometimes in the NFL, a team's success can be attributed to the savvy of its coaching staff just as much as it can be to the talent on the field. 

    A good cadre of coaches can find ways to cover the flaws of a mediocre team. A great coaching staff can make a good team great—and sometimes into a champion.

    Over the next few pages we will examine and rank the top coaching staffs the National Football League has to offer. While win-loss records will play a role in our rankings, special consideration will be given to longevity, recent and sustained success (don't be surprised if more than a few recent or multiple Super Bowl champions make the cut) and to the ability to overcome adversity.

    Teams entering the 2014 season with a rookie head coach will not be eligible since a unit that appears impressive on paper doesn't always live up to expectations.

    Instead, we will focus on coaching staffs that have been around for at least a season or two, and who have created higher expectations on their own. 

10. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    2013 Record: 11-5

     

    Analysis

    The coaching staff of the Kansas City Chiefs deserves a ton of credit for masterminding one of the greatest single-season turnarounds in league history. Last season, the Chiefs earned an 11-5 record and a playoff spot just one year removed from a 2-14 campaign.

    Standing at the forefront of the group is head coach Andy Reid, who produced six division championships and nine playoff appearances with the Philadelphia Eagles prior to arriving in Kansas City. However, offensive coordinator Doug Pederson and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton certainly provided plenty of their own expertise to the equation.

    Pederson spent time with four NFL teams as a quarterback before embarking on a coaching career in 2005. His experience at the position may have played a role in the success of Alex Smith, a player Pederson seemed excited to work with, according to The Kansas City Star.

    Sutton, who began his coaching career back in 1972, brought a wealth of defensive experience. Last season, he helped transform the Chiefs defense into a top-10 scoring unit (ranked sixth, allowing 19.1 points per game).

    The only thing keeping this impressive staff from placing higher on our list is the fact that it has yet to prove it can sustain success over the long haul. 

9. Indianapolis Colts

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    2013 Record: 11-5

     

    Analysis

    Like the coaches of the Chiefs, the coaches of the Indianapolis Colts make our list due to more recent success.

    Head coach Chuck Pagano has only been in Indianapolis since 2012, but he has already helped produce two 11-5 campaigns and two playoff appearances with a division title coming last season.

    Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, who spent 12 years as an NFL linebacker, certainly helped. Manusky has been coaching in the National Football League since 2001.

    Another boon to Indianapolis' efforts has been offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, who joined the team last season. Hamilton served as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Stanford in 2011. Stanford, in case you were not aware, produced current Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

    While Hamilton has been a big help for the Colts, Indianapolis' staff might rank a bit higher if 2012 offensive coordinator Bruce Arians had not left to take over as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals last season. Arians won 2012 Coach of the Year honors for guiding the Colts to a playoff season during Pagano's battle with cancer. 

    Another recent addition who may prove dividends is tight ends coach Rob Chudzinski, who served as head coach of the Cleveland Browns a season ago. 

8. Denver Broncos

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    2013 Record: 13-3

     

    Analysis

    Since adding head coach John Fox in 2011, the Denver Broncos have compiled a 34-14 regular-season record and have made the playoff in each of Fox's three seasons.

    This is certainly enough production to earn the Broncos staff a place on our list, though the presence of one Peyton Manning at quarterback is going to keep them toward the lower end.

    Fox and Co. do deserve some credit for turning the Tim Tebow-led Broncos into a playoff team in 2011, but anything short of a playoff appearance with Manning under center would have been an utter disappointment. 

    Helping Fox since 2012 has been defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Del Rio, a former All-Pro linebacker, spent nine seasons as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars before coming to Denver.

    It is also worth praising offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who was pursued by the Cleveland Browns for a head coaching job this past offseason, before politely declining. Of course, it is also worth wondering exactly how much coordinating a Manning-led offense needs. 

7. Baltimore Ravens

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    2013 Record: 8-8

     

    Analysis

    While the Baltimore Ravens did take a step back in 2013, their coaching staff makes the list due to sustained and overall success.

    Since head coach John Harbaugh took over the team in 2008, the Ravens have made three appearances in the AFC title game and have won a Super Bowl. Last year marked the first time the team did not reach the postseason since Harbaugh joined the franchise.

    Harbaugh has been aided mightily by defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who joined him in 2012 and helped craft a championship defense that same season.

    Joining the party is new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, who spent the past seven years as head coach of the Houston Texans. Kubiak helped guide the Texans to the first two playoff appearances in franchise history.

    It is also worth mentioning offensive line coach Juan Castillo, who has been coaching since 1982 and has served as both an offensive assistant and a defensive coordinator at different times during his career. Castillo served as a Ravens consultant during the lead-up to their last Super Bowl victory. 

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    2013 Record: 8-8

     

    Analysis

    The Pittsburgh Steelers coaching group finds itself on our list due to past accolades more than it does for recent success.

    Head Coach Mike Tomlin has taken the Steelers to two Super Bowls with four total playoff appearances and one Lombardi Trophy since arriving in 2007.

    A big part of Tomlin's success likely comes from the presence of longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who coached with the team from 1992 to 1996 and rejoined the team in his current role in 2004. LeBeau has been coaching since 1973 and owns two Super Bowl rings.

    Prior to his coaching career, LeBeau spent 14 seasons as a defensive back with the Detroit Lions.

    While he has only been with the team since 2012, offensive coordinator Todd Haley has spent time as an NFL head coach. So has new offensive line coach Mike Munchak.

    If not for producing back-to-back 8-8 seasons, this staff would rank much higher on our list.

5. New Orleans Saints

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    2013 Record: 11-5

     

    Analysis

    To understand just how important some of the New Orleans Saints coaches are to the franchise, one must only examine the picture without them.

    The Saints franchise had only made five playoff appearances with one postseason win prior to the arrival of head coach Sean Payton in 2006. Since then, the team has equaled those five appearances and won an NFL title following the 2009 season. 

    When Payton was suspended in 2012, the team went just 7-9. The team also fielded a historically bad defense that season, allowing 7,042 yards on the year.

    In 2013, however, the defense improved to fourth in the league (305.7 yards per game allowed). The 2013 season also marked the arrival of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who began coaching in 1987.

    Also of note are assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who served as interim head coach for the majority of the 2012 season, and tight ends coach Terry Malone. Malone helped transform Jimmy Graham into one of the game's most dangerous tight ends.

4. San Francisco 49ers

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    2013 Record: 12-4

     

    Analysis

    The coaching staff of the San Francisco 49ers ranks higher on our list than some recent Super Bowl champions due to one simple fact. While the 49ers' success has been recent, it has been extremely consistent.

    San Francisco has made an appearance in the NFC Championship Game every single season since head coach Jim Harbaugh arrived in 2011. The team has also made one Super Bowl appearance in that span.

    Making the 49ers' recent run all the more impressive is the fact that Harbaugh and Co. have maintained a high level with two very different quarterbacks under center in Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.

    Harbaugh, of course, is a former Pro Bowl quarterback and served as head coach of the Stanford Cardinal before arriving in San Francisco.

    Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has been coaching since 1995, while defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has been in the business since 1979. Fangio's defense has ranked in the top five in each of his three years with the 49ers.

    Special teams coordinator Brad Seely has been coaching since 1978 and tight ends coach Eric Mangini has previously served as a head coach with the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns. 

3. Green Bay Packers

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    2013 Record: 8-7-1

     

    Analysis

    Although the Green Bay Packers didn't have a tremendous season in 2103, their coaching staff ranks higher on our list due to a variety of factors.

    For starters, the Packers have missed the playoffs just twice (2006, 2008) since head coach Mike McCarthy took over in 2006. Green Bay has also earned a recent Super Bowl title, defeating the Steelers to take home the Lombardi Trophy following the 2010 season.

    Perhaps more impressive is the fact that the Packers staff has managed to endure its share of trials over the years and still come out looking impressive. McCarthy and Co. helped steer the Packers through the quarterback transition from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers and helped produce a playoff season in 2013 despite missing Rodgers for seven games due to injury

    While McCarthy gets most of the national attention, it is worth giving a nod to offensive coordinator Tom Clements and his defensive counterpart, Dom Capers.

    Capers has coached in the NFL since 1986. Clements, a former CFL quarterback, has served as either quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator for the Packers since 2006. 

2. Seattle Seahawks

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    2013 Record: 13-3

     

    Analysis

    The coaching staff of the Seattle Seahawks earns a spot on our list for being defending Super Bowl champions. It ranks high on our list for a number of reasons.

    First and foremost is the fact that the Seahawks are young and appear poised to contend for the foreseeable future. Guiding a young team to a 43-8 Super Bowl victory is a little more impressive than, say, taking a team led by a future Hall of Famer to the big game and then falling flat.

    The fact that head coach Pete Carroll is one of only three coaches to win a championship in both the NFL and the NCAA is also noteworthy. The Seahawks have made the postseason in three out of four years since Carroll arrive.

    Carroll, of course, hasn't acted alone. He has received tremendous help from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, special teams coach Brian Schneider and offensive line coach Tom Cable.

    Don't be too surprised if Bevell and Quinn are snatched away to fill head coaching vacancies in the near future. Cable has already been a head coach, spending three years in that capacity with the Oakland Raiders.  

1. New England Patriots

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    2013 Record: 12-4

     

    Analysis

    Though some of the pieces in the coaching staff have changes throughout the years, the New England Patriots have had one constant since 2000 and that is the presence of head coach Bill Belichick.

    Winning has also been a constant for the Patriots during Belichick's tenure. New England has not experienced a losing season since Belichick's inaugural campaign and has only missed the postseason three times under his leadership.

    Under Belichick, the Patriots have experienced 11 division titles, five Super Bowl appearances and three Super Bowl victories.

    This combination of success and consistency is why Belichick's coaching group remains the gold standard in professional football, regardless of any changes that have come.

    Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has held his current role sine 2012, but has coached in New England since 2004. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels served as coordinator from 2006 thorough 2008 before returning in 2012. 

    McDaniels spent two seasons as head coach of the Denver Broncos during his time away from New England.

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