From The Top: Ranking The 2009 NFL Coaches

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From The Top: Ranking The 2009 NFL Coaches
(Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

With six of the top 20 winners in NFL history leaving the game in the past two or three years, the league's coaching landscape looks a lot different as the 2009 season approaches.

Marty Schottenheimer, Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren, Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan and Tony Dungy are out—leaving Bill Belichick, Jeff Fisher, Andy Reid and Tom Coughlin as the senior members of the current NFL coaching fraternity.

Schottenheimer is sixth on the all-time list with 200 wins. Parcells (172) is 10th, Holmgren (161) is 11th, Cowher (149) is 15th, Shanahan (146) is 16th and Dungy (139) is 18th. That's a lot of wins leaving the league in such a short time.

Holmgren, Cowher and Shanahan will be back as soon as next year, but in the meantime a lot of younger or less experienced coaches will have a chance to prove themselves. There are 11 new coaches in 2009, including second-timers Jim Mora and Eric Mangini and interim-turned-permanent coaches Mike Singletary and Tom Cable.

Not counting the rookies and inexperienced Singletary and Cable, here's a look at how the NFL's coaches stack up entering the 2009 season:

1) Bill Belichick, New England: Belichick is the undisputed master of coaching. His systems work on offense and defense, and his numbers prove it. He's 19th on the all-time win list (138-86) and fifth in playoff wins (15-4), with a .789 winning percentage that is second only to Vince Lombardi (9-1) among coaches with at least 10 playoff games. Belichick's three Super Bowl titles are second only to Chuck Noll's four with the 1970s Steelers; Joe Gibbs and Bill Walsh also won three.

2) Jeff Fisher, Tennessee: Fisher has long been the most underrated coach in the NFL. He does more with less than almost any coach in the league. In 230 games over almost 15 seasons with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Oilers/Tennessee Titans, Fisher has had just four losing seasons.

3) Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh: He's entering only his third year, but you can't argue with a guy who won the Super Bowl in his second season and is 22-10.

4) Andy Reid, Philadelphia: 97-62-1 in 10 seasons, with a 10-7 playoff record, four straight NFC title games and a Super Bowl loss. Criticized at times for out-thinking himself with his offense, he was smart enough to pick a great defensive coordinator, Jim Johnson, who has given the Eagles the balance needed to win consistently.

5) Tom Coughlin, N.Y. Giants: Coughlin's Giants haven't had a losing season in five years, and they won the Super Bowl two years ago. He's 47-33 with the Giants and 115-93 overall in 13 seasons with the Giants and Jacksonville.

6) Lovie Smith, Chicago: Smith has two playoff appearances in his five seasons, but one of them resulted in a Super Bowl berth. He's 45-35 overall with the Bears and could be better if he did something about his offense.

7) John Fox, Carolina: In seven seasons, Fox is 63-49, with one Super Bowl appearance in three playoff years. His teams have never been worse than 7-9, but he has yet to put together back-to-back playoff seasons.

8) Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona: Whiz's regular-season record is nothing special (17-15 in two years), but he makes the top 10 based on Arizona's improbable run to the Super Bowl last season.

9) Tony Sparano, Miami: This Parcells disciple pulled out all the tricks in his first year with the Dolphins, using the Wildcat offense to shockingly win the AFC East with an 11-5 mark a year after Miami went 1-15. A 10-win turnaround merits a spot in the top 10.

10) Mike Smith, Atlanta: In his first year, Smith used rookie quarterback Matt Ryan and an improved defense to flip the Falcons' record from 4-12 to 11-5.

11) John Harbaugh, Baltimore: Like Smith, Harbaugh used a rookie QB to lead his team to the playoffs in his first year. Of course, Harbaugh had the luxury of a solid defense, but he kept the game manageable for QB Joe Flacco.

12) Wade Phillips, Dallas: He's taking some heat now because the Cowboys have underachieved in his two seasons despite a 22-10 record. In seven full seasons as an NFL coach—in Denver, Buffalo and Dallas—Phillips has had only one losing season. But he also has not won a playoff game, going 0-1 in Denver, 0-2 in Buffalo and 0-1 in Dallas.

13) Norv Turner, San Diego: Turner inherited a supremely talented Chargers team in 2007 and immediately took it to the AFC title game. Last season, the Chargers were knocked out in the divisional round. After seven years coaching the mediocre Redskins and two in charge of the horrible Raiders, Turner finally has a team he can do something with. Overall, he's 77-95-1 in 11 seasons as a head coach, with three playoff appearances.

14) Jim Mora, Seattle: In Atlanta, Mora was 26-22, with an appearance in the NFC title game. Of course, he was hamstrung with a bad quarterback named Michael Vick.

15) Mike McCarthy, Green Bay: In three seasons with the Packers, McCarthy has had mixed success. He was 8-8 in 2006, a surprising 13-3 in 2007 and 6-10 in 2008, Green Bay's first year without Brett Favre.

16) Sean Payton, New Orleans: Payton is 25-23 in three seasons with the Saints. He led the Saints to the NFC title game in his first year but has not gotten them back to the playoffs the past two seasons.

17) Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville: After steady progress in his first three seasons, going from five wins to nine to 12, Del Rio's teams have been incredibly inconsistent. The past three seasons, he's 24-24, with one playoff appearance.

18) Brad Childress, Minnesota: Childress has made steady progress with the Vikings, from six wins to eight to 10. After losing his first playoff game last season, he's expected to win this time.

19) Gary Kubiak, Houston: Kubiak is 22-26 in Houston, with .500 finishes the past two years. It's time to move up the list or get taken off it.

20) Eric Mangini, Cleveland: In three seasons with the Jets, Mangini had two winning records. But he led them to only one playoff game, in his first year. It was still enough to get him hired in Cleveland, where he has a chance to move up (or down) in the rankings.

21) Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati: Lewis is 46-49-1 with the Bengals, with one playoff spot in six years. His team has had a winning record just once and has just 11 wins the past two seasons.

22) Jim Zorn, Washington: Zorn was a shaky 8-8 in his first season, and he'll likely need to do a lot better in Year 2 if he is to make it to Year Three.

23) Dick Jauron, Buffalo: Jauron is simply not a good coach. In nine years as manager of the Bears and Bills, he has one winning season to his credit. And the Bears went one and out in the playoffs that year (2001). The Bills have gone 7-9 for three straight years under Jauron, which makes some wonder how he has kept his job.

Rookies:
Tom Cable, Oakland (4-8 as interim in 2008)
Mike Singletary, San Francisco (5-4 as interim in 2008)
Jim Caldwell, Indy
Todd Haley, Kansas City
Josh McDaniels, Denver
Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay
Rex Ryan, N.Y. Jets
Jim Schwartz, Detroit
Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis

 

"From the Top" is a weekly look at issues involving coaching, management and ownership of the NFL's 32 franchises at Football.com.

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