NFL: Bill Cowher Tops Ranking of NFL's 10 Best Unemployed Coaches
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As we ponder the hopeful 2011 season, I was thinking about why five coaches with Super Bowl rings are currently unemployed, especially since there was a seven-team coaching turnover last year.
Well, from those five, I thought about other notable coaches that are currently unemployed who should soon be back in the NFL, or are at least at the top of owners' and general managers' lists.
Nowadays, it seems that there are anywhere from four to seven changes per year, so it is conceivable that some names on this list will be back on the sidelines in a year or two.
The ranking is based on record, most notably, Super Bowls, playoff appearances and consistency. Not included are former coaches who are now coordinators like Jim Haslett or Mike Nolan; not that they would make the list anyway.
Coaches are also ranked from least likely to most likely to get several phone calls next year.
10: Jim Mora, Jr.
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I think if he could concentrate on being more of a coach and less of a friend to the players, he might actually get somewhere. I believe being the son of a coach, rather than a son of a b*****, he was not able to keep the locker room under control. If you look at all great coaches, they kept the locker room under wraps and don’t get too cozy even with their top players.
He’s only had four years of head coaching experience, and perhaps this period of unemployment will help him mature and educate himself on what makes a successful head coach.
His best bet would be to get back in as a coordinator, then pursue a head job in a few years.
It is tough not to do that in today’s cozy, hug-crazed society, but a head coach has to be very smart in addition to being a good X’s and O’s guy. Look at the head coaches from the last four years Super Bowls and how they handle a team and the locker room.
9: Herm Edwards
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Is it me, or does Herm make you feel like he’s the guy in the corner of a room who is ready to give advice, but nobody really pays attention to him?
Edwards has had a pretty successful coaching career. From his first job with the Jets in 2001 where he led them to a 10-6 record and a playoff appearance, to his sudden demise in Kansas City in 2008, Edwards would be an interesting choice for a very young team.
In six years with the Jets, they appeared in five playoff games, but only one division championship. But that’s hard when some team up there in “Bawston” is putting together the team of the decade.
I think the knock on Edwards would be the yo-yo seasons. You go to the playoffs two years in a row, 2001-2002, and then go 6-10 in 2003, then 10-6 in 2004, then 4-12 in 2005.
As for his dismissal in New York, many can understand that justification, and what happened in Kansas City is just simply bizarre.
Edwards was taking over for a team that hadn’t done much since Montana attempted to prolong his career and led them to the playoffs in 1994 then the team had a brief revival under Dick Vermeil.
In 2008, Edwards’ last year with the Chiefs, they lost eight games by seven points or less, and that was with Tyler Thigpen and Brodie Croyle at quarterback.
8: Dennis Green
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Great coach until something happened that made him unable to keep it going. I hate to say this about any coach, but I seriously believe that arrogance brought down Green.
All coaches have egos the size of Montana, but for Green, I think it was more about arrogance, and maybe even a certain belligerence toward management that ran him out of Arizona.
After a successful career in Minnesota as the franchises second winningest coach, Green was rightfully fired due to several circumstances, and I was not surprised to see him wind up in Arizona when he did.
Green spent 13 years in the NFL as head coach, 1992-2001 with Minnesota, and 2004-2006 with Arizona. His record with Minnesota was 97-62 with two NFC Championship losses, otherwise he had a modest playoff record at 4-8.
With Arizona things just didn’t get going with consecutive records of 6-10, 5-11 and 5-11. In fairness to Green, he didn’t have a whole lot to work with in Arizona, and you would have to think that Arizona’s success just after Green left could have been a result of personnel decisions made by him. And no offense to Whisenhunt, but he was definitely the benefactor of those decisions, but with last year’s 5-11 record and debacle at quarterback, maybe he’s not as good as some would think.
Will Green wind up as a head coach again in the NFL, I don’t know. But if a franchise gave him some flexibility in terms of personnel decisions, he just might be capable of creating a perennial playoff team.
7: Steve Mariucci
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Personally, I love Mooch. He is one funny guy, and to listen to him on tape during the games is nothing short of Comedy Central. As a coach, I think Mooch is a good coach, good enough to get plenty of phone calls. Here is why he is on the list.
Set aside his tenure in Detroit. Isn’t that where coaches’ careers go to die? Sorry Lions fans, but seriously, you all haven’t had any type of success since Wayne Fontes and Barry Sanders. Maybe that tide has turned though.
Mariucci coached for nine years, six in San Fransisco, three forgettable in Detroit. While in San Fransisco, he had a record of 57-39, and was 3-4 in the playoffs. We shouldn’t place a great emphasis on the fact that a coach has a playoff losing record, even the most successful hover in the .500 area.
Most critics will say that Mariucci inherited a great 49ers team, but also understand that he inherited an aging team, a 36-year-old quarterback at the end of his career and young players that were not his draft choices.
In his last year with the 49ers in 2002, he went 10-6 (they were expected to go 8-8), took his team to the playoffs, and lost a tough road game to the eventual Super Bowl winning Buccaneers.
His tenure in Detroit was mostly due to poor drafts. How much he played a role in that is unsure, but one or two bad drafts in a row will set a team back five years. It was a nightmare homecoming for the Michigan native, and one I am sure he would love to have the opportunity to go back and re-do.
Mooch will be 56 in November, so he is still young enough to lead a team for eight to ten years. He is another guy who I believe if he wants to coach, will coach again.
6: Brad Childress
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I believe that Childress has been one of the best coaches in the last five years who has been fired.
First of all, let’s look at what he was able to accomplish…I had ya didn’t I?
Next slide, please!
6: Brian Billick
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I thought for sure that Billick would have been hired this past year with so many coaches being fired. I actually thought the Panthers or Bengals would look at Billick, but the Panthers stuck with a defensive coach, and Lewis must have something on the ownership in order to still have a job.
Billick is a Super Bowl winning coach with Baltimore taking it all in 2000. Billick spent all nine years as a head coach in Baltimore from 1999-2007.
The problem with some coaches is that they have enormous success early on, but have difficulty maintaining that success for the remainder of their career. A closer look at Billick indicates that he won the Super Bowl in his second year, but only managed playoff appearances three more times (2001, 2003, 2006).
Billick is considered an offensive innovator, but for some reason was unable to have the offensive success in Baltimore than he had as OC with the Vikings. Then again, it always helps to have offensive talent like Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Robert Smith, etc.
Billick had only two bad years in Baltimore, 6-10 in 2005, and 5-11 in 2007, his final year. He finished his career with 80 wins and 64 losses, eight playoff games, five playoff wins and one Super Bowl; not a bad resume.
I believe that if Billick does want to work again, he would have no problem getting a franchise back on its feet.
5: Jeff Fisher
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Confession. As a player, I wasn’t a fan of this guy, but then again, when you are a Vikings fan, it’s hard to have favorites on other teams. As a coach though, I think he is an excellent one.
The situation in Tennessee got out of control, and when it did, Fisher saw the writing on the wall and said enough is enough. He will definitely wind up somewhere next year, and will assuredly be at the top of most owners or GM’s list.
Fisher just turned 53 in February, so he is definitely young enough to stay gamefully employed for years to come.
At Tennessee, Fisher had a record of 142-120. He was the head man for 17 years, giving him the longest consecutive single tenure since Don Shula.
The argument could be made that Fisher was not so much successful as he was a coach who was able to hang around for a long time, but his record of relative success warrants his place on the list. Fisher will be employed next year.
4: Bill Parcells
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Parcells has won two Super Bowls, losing another, and has a playoff record of 11-8. He will be 70 in August, but trust me, if he wanted to, he would be a head coach again in the NFL.
Parcells has had a checkered career, but there is no doubt he is one of the better ones to come down the line in the last 30 years.
Despite coaching four teams over those 19 years, he led all four to the playoffs at some point, and took his teams to the playoffs in 10 of those 19 years.
It is doubtful that Parcells will return to coaching, but it doesn’t hurt to keep him in the conversation
3: Jon Gruden
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Why Gruden is unemployed is beyond me? If it was anything, I think it would be his ideas and attitude more than anything else. It’s no great mystery that Gruden is his own cat-although he would hate that comparison because he says he hates cats. Sometimes he puts himself out there for criticism, some of it justified, but there is no doubt the man is one hell of a coach.
Resume: Super Bowl winner with the Bucs
From 1998-2001 with Oakland he was 38-26 with four playoff appearances and two division championships. Since Oakland dispatched Gruden, they are on their sixth coach and are 48-96 since 2002.
The only reason the Raiders went to the Super Bowl under Callahan is mostly due to Gruden’s personnel, and the fact that Callahan was Gruden’s OC.
From 2002-2008, Gruden won three division titles, and led the Bucs to a victory in Super Bowl XXXVII over his former team, which must have been either bittersweet, or absolute payback.
Gruden will have a job next year when yet another handful of teams decide to “go in a different direction.” Gruden will most likely have competition from Cowher.
2: Tony Dungy
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Come on, who wouldn’t take this guy in a heartbeat? Dungy is one of the most respected coaches in the NFL and the only reason he is number two on my list is it is doubtful he has any desire to return to coaching, but if he did, he would be numero uno.
Dungy’s long NFL career as a player and coach is one marked by many successes. I was so happy to see him finally win a Super Bowl, and his spot in the Hall of Fame as a coach is assured.
The Bucs are an off franchise. Dungy marks the second guy they fired who had success with them. Why the Buccaneers fired Dungy is beyond me, but he would most likely admit it was a blessing in disguise. Plus, it helped to have a guy like Peyton Manning as your signal caller.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Dungy’s coaching is that he went to the playoffs in 11 of his 13 years as a coach, and the last ten years consecutively. That is remarkable in today's game.
1: Bill Cowher
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See Tony Dungy. Seriously, who wouldn’t offer this guy tens of millions to return to the field? Cowher is the number one sought after coach for several reasons. He is a true motivator, has won a Super Bowl, is a no nonsense guy, and just has that aura around him.
In his 15 years as head coach, Cowher compiled a record of 149-90-1 with a 12-9 playoff record, and one Super Bowl win in 2005.
Also, in those 15 years he took his team to the playoffs 10 of those 15 years. Not to mention only having two losing seasons.
Cowher does it right. He commands with authority and has the respect of players, opponents and other coaches. There is no doubt he is at the top of the list, and would almost appear to choose the time and place when ready.
And as always, your thoughts are welcome and encouraged.