NFL Head Coaches: Jack Del Rio and the 5 Most Overrated Coaches in the NFL
Belichick, it was announced, averages $7.5 million a year on his current contract. Steep numbers, but given his results, it's hard to argue that he's not worth it.
Are all coaches worth the exorbitant salary exchanged for their services, though? Even if they're not approaching $8 million a year, every NFL head coach is compensated well for his role. Unfortunately for most NFL franchise payroll departments, not every NFL head coach is Bill Belichick.
Here's a look at the five most overrated NFL head coaches heading into the 2011 NFL season.
5. Gary Kubiak
If you put a finger to the pulse of the Houston Texans fanbase following their team's absence from the 2010 NFL postseason, you would have found that most Texans fans wished Kubiak would politely depart from the team so Houston could welcome in a new head coach and turn a new page in Texans history.
But that didn't happen.
Instead, the Texans welcomed Kubiak back for the 2011 season. And I'm sure pundits will act accordingly and predict an AFC South championship for Houston as they always do, insisting that this is the year the Texans make it over the hump, this is the year the Texans make the postseason field, this is the year the AFC South rival Indianapolis Colts enter a tailspin and finally succumb to the pressure applied from Kubiak's Houston squad.
But that won't happen.
Kubiak will undoubtedly have the Texans prepared for the first game of the season (or as well-prepared as possible given their transition to Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense and the obstacles presented by the NFL lockout in having sufficient time to adapt to that scheme) and maybe even the first quarter of the season, but as always, long-term focus will be an issue with this team as long as Kubiak is coach.
They will falter down the stretch of games, down the stretch of the season. They'll relinquish leads in any number of methods best designed to drive Texans fans to the madhouse.
And ultimately, the Texans will be where they always are under Kubiak: looking up at the "big brother" Colts and wondering why Houston's talent isn't quite enough to trump them.
Until Kubiak can realize the talent and potential of his squad and finally start making some of these talking heads sound smart, he's one of the league's most overrated head coaches.
4. Norv Turner
The only shock here, I'm sure, is that he's not higher on this list.
There is no way, no way, an NFL head coach should field the league's best offense and defense in terms of yards gained and allowed...and promptly miss the playoffs.
Absolutely no way.
But San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner seems to have made an art form out of postseason duds. For as much as folks talk about teams like the Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens choking in the playoffs, they sure seem to give considerable slack to San Diego, which is a perennial underachiever under Turner.
What makes Turner's coaching failures even more pitiable is the fact that he has one of the top five—yes, top five—quarterbacks in football leading his team, sometimes playing through torn ACLs to do so. When you have Philip Rivers and a top five defense, you just shouldn't miss the postseason.
Injuries or not (and I would point to the way in which the Colts and Green Bay Packers responded to injuries and still made the postseason field in 2010), you should not find yourself sitting at home in January with that combination.
Turner somehow always manages to get less out of more with the Chargers, and committed a cardinal sin in 2010 by hanging on to much-maligned special teams coordinator Steve Crosby far longer than he had any reason to.
I'm sure Norv's well-documented postseason flops have drawn the ire of more than a few Bolts fans, and I honestly think with anyone else at the helm of this team, they'd be the most-feared team in the NFL heading into 2011.
3. Jim Caldwell
Jim Caldwell, the Indianapolis Colts' head coach and former quarterback coach to Peyton Manning, has one of the easiest jobs in professional football: stand expressionless on the sideline (taking caution not to blink) while allowing Manning to essentially act as the gameday coach, taking charge of seemingly all on-field decisions.
Mention Caldwell to Colts fans and you're likely to elicit more than a few groans and eye-rolls. His infamous timeout strategy arguably cost the Colts both a regular season game (at Jacksonville) and postseason game (versus New York Jets) in 2010.
And his personality, for the most part, rivals that of a dead horse. Whereas his predecessor Tony Dungy was quiet and effective, Caldwell is just quiet and blank.
He has unceremoniously dumped former coaching staff mainstays like Gene Huey and Tom Moore, only to usher in replacements who have been comparably less effective than the men they have replaced.
His lone big coaching staff "upgrade" was defensive coordinator Larry Coyer, whose insistence on blitzing while playing off coverage still boggles the mind (Braylon Edwards says thanks, though.)
Caldwell is still early in his NFL head coaching career, but it doesn't look good. Yes, he led Dungy's team to the Super Bowl in 2010, but made no useful in-game adjustments as Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints picked his cushion-happy secondary apart on the way to their first Lombardi trophy.
I can't quite figure where—if anywhere—Caldwell is supposedly effective as a head coach.
Other than doing exactly what Bill Polian tells him to do.
2. Mike Shanahan
I'm sure this inclusion already has droves of Washington Redskins fans furiously searching for their "F" key, presumably not to call me a "friend", but come on guys.
Mike Shanahan is one of the most overrated coaches in the NFL.
Yes, he led the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 1997 and 1998. But those were over 10 years ago. Since then, he's been to one AFC Championship game (2005, Denver) and three AFC wildcard games (2000, 2003, 2004, Denver) and has lost all four of these contests, absolutely embarrassed in two of them.
In 2010, Shanahan led the Redskins to a 6-10 record. But that wasn't the extent of his damage. He also managed to trade for, and shortly thereafter ruin, former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, forking over valuable draft picks to NFC East rivals in the process.
He managed to help turn Albert Haynesworth from underperforming contract albatross to non-performing contract albatross (have fun eating that cap hit, Dan Snyder, because he's not getting moved.)
And most impressively, he managed to scapegoat former Redskins and Indianapolis Colts punter Hunter Smith for a series of special teams error, prompting Smith to say "playing the last two years in Washington, man, it's something else...you'd never be short of columns. It's amazing. I can't say enough about the contrast between the two franchises (Indianapolis and Washington)."
Shanahan builds his reputation on being a disciplinarian, but unfortunately, he's often just as short-tempered and haphazard as the players he condemns for the same behavior.
Most members of the media initially thought Shanahan was a much needed warden for a Washington franchise in need of some policing, but if 2010 was any indication, Shanahan's presence has actually harmed the team.
1. Jack Del Rio
Without question, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio is the most overrated head coach in the NFL.
It's a shame for the Jaguars, too, because they're a good—not great—team that just needs consistent leadership from both the head coach and quarterback to take that next step.
If you only listen to sports radio and never watch the Jaguars play, you would think Del Rio is a coaching phenom tasked with rounding up a motley crew of marginally-skilled replacement players and leading them into AFC South contention year in and year out.
But if you actually watch the Jaguars, you see a different story: overagressive and undisciplined. Del Rio never saw a fourth down conversion try he didn't like, and I can't even count how many times his decision to leave punter Adam Podlesh on the bench has come back to haunt him.
Perhaps more detrimental than his overagression, though, is the lack of discipline he fails to instill in his squad.
The Jaguars seem to be good for one key unnecessary penalty per game, usually in games that matter the most. They have a habit of giving games away at the most inopportune times, and that's entirely reflective of the head coach and the lack of composure he has managed to instill upon the club.
Del Rio has worked with some good squads, and figures to work with even better teams going forward should he not succumb to the hot seat. The problem is, more often than not, he fields dumb teams, rosters known for penalizing themselves out of contention.
I would think it's fairly telling that three AFC South coaches are three of the most overrated coaches in the NFL. The division should probably be better than it is, as roster talent is not being maximized.