NFL Head Coaches Power Rankings for Week One

Michael Ielpi@ielpiCorrespondent ISeptember 17, 2009

SAN DIEGO - AUGUST 25:  Coaches headsets are placed on the San Diego Chargers bench in preparation for the game with the Seattle Seahawks on August 25, 2008 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  The Chargers won 18-17.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

There are so many who do a great job with the team power rankings, I thought it would be interesting to size up each NFL coach and rank them based on record, decision-making, past performance in big games and even Coors Light press conference moments.

The rankings take past performance in to heavy account. Just because a team has a bad week that does not move a coach off one of the pedestals, although, he could lose or a spot or two. It takes a streak of either good decisions or poor decisions to move a coach to a new level.


1. Bill Belichick – PATRIOTS

There is no question that Patriots got lucky on Monday night. What separates the good from the bad is how you take an advantage of those breaks. Leodis McKelvin did not lose the game for the Bills by himself. The defense had two opportunities to keep Tom Brady and the Patriots out of the end zone and they failed both times.

What I loved is that while the Patriots appear to have problems on defense, they still followed the old blueprint of taking away the other team’s best weapons. The Bills wide receivers only caught five passes on Monday.

While, the Bills ate up yards running the ball and with short passes, they could never hit the home run ball and that is a specialty of the Bills offense.

2. Tom Coughlin – GIANTS

The Giants defense did what is always does to the Redskins. They make Washington’s day miserable. Big Blue’s offense took care of the rest. One thing I will tell you with certainty, do not expect this team to fall victim to a fake field goal or punt the rest of the season. The Giants biggest test comes on Sunday night at the new Cowboys Stadium.

3. Mike Tomlin – STEELERS

The defending champ’s team did what most defending champions do on opening night; they win their opener. It was not pretty, and it certainly came at a cost, as the Steelers All-Pro Troy Polamalu was lost to an injury.

While, not much of the Steelers award-winning cast changed from last season, not having Troy Polamalu for a few weeks is definitely something Mike Tomlin did not want to have in his plans.

4. Jeff Fisher – TITANS

If not for a loss of the coin flip, it might be the Titans who are 1-0. Even without defensive tackle, Albert Haynesworth, this defense is as good as ever. If its offense can make the most of their opportunities and not squander them like did last Thursday, this team should be the class of the AFC South again.


5. Andy Reid – EAGLES

It can never be all good news for Andy Reid, can it? The Eagles devour the Panthers by 28, but Donovan McNabb is injured running in a touchdown with the Eagles up by 21 late in the third quarter. It will be interesting not only who starts at quarterback this Sunday, but especially next Sunday in week three, where Michael Vick returns from his suspension.

6. Mike Smith – FALCONS

Smith is turning into one of the better coaches in this league. He goes under the radar. This Falcon team should be mentioned at one of the top contenders in the NFC. The Falcons were very impressive against the Dolphins.

The Wildcat was shut down and the defense forced four turnovers and had four sacks to keep the Dolphins off the scoreboard for 56 minutes. Their schedule is daunting, but I do not see this team getting out coached much this season.

7. John Harbaugh – RAVENS

This may be a misprint but the Ravens appeared to have 501 yards of offense on Sunday. Joe Flacco threw for over 300 yards and Ray Rice ran for over 100 yards. The team scored 38 points. All of that being said you would have thought the Ravens would have beaten the Chiefs by 30, but it did not turn out that way.

The fact that Brodie Croyle had a QB rating of 116.1 makes me think that the Ravens defense has more work to do than its offense.

8. Ken Whisenhunt – CARDINALS

Last season the Cardinals were 6-0 against the NFC West. This year they are already 0-1. Everyone knows the plight of the Super Bowl loser the following season usually struggles. This team will need to be at least 3-3 after week six if they want to repeat as division champions.

The offensive line needs to protect Kurt Warner better than they did on Sunday against the 49ers. 


9. Mike McCarthy – PACKERS

A wonderful call on 3rd-and-1 fools the Bears and the Packers win the game. The defense was excellent. The Packers held Matt Forte to only 2.2 yards per carry and they made Jay Cutler’s first game in the NFC North a night he will not forget, intercepting him four times. The Packers have a great chance to improve to 2-0 with a win over the Bengals.

10. Brad Childress – VIKINGS

Dear Brad: Please use that same formula on offense every week. Signed, the fans of the Minnesota Vikings. Adrian Peterson sure made the most of his 25 carries against the Browns, and Brett Favre only threw 21 passes and did not turn the ball over. If the Vikings can keep that up they should be in the playoffs again this year.

11. Tony Sparano – DOLPHINS

The Wildcat should not surprise anyone this season. But, I still think the Dolphins can be effective using that formation. Too many turnovers were the reason the Dolphins start the season with a loss.

The Dolphins host the Colts on Monday Night Football, should they lose they will fall to 0-2. But, Sparano should not worry about going 0-2; he has an executive and former coach that knows a thing or two about turning around an 0-2 and making it to the playoffs.  

12. Sean Payton – SAINTS

The offense was practically flawless. Drew Brees made a nice opening statement and Mike Bell came off the missing persons report with his best outing as a pro. But, all of this is taken with a grain of salt as this came against the Lions. This week’s test in Philadelphia may be a totally different story.


13. Jim Caldwell – COLTS

He probably has the most difficult job in the league. He has replaced one of the most popular player’s coaches in history. On Sunday, Caldwell did something very reminiscent of Tony Dungy; he won. 

14. Rex Ryan - JETS

This was as impressive of a debut as you will find. The Jets completely dominated the Texans. The Jets had 10 successful third-down conversions. Starting their season on the road with a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach and pull off that kind of team effort gets you noticed. I am sure that the Jets week two opponent, the Patriots took notice.

15. Mike Singletary – 49ERS

Singletary’s defensive game plan against the Cardinals was very smart. The 49ers defense was able to put pressure on Kurt Warner and forced two interceptions. But, the real beauty was the way they played the passing game. Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald only combined for 93 yards.

While Tim Hightower had a field day with 12 catches for 121 yards, the 49ers took away the strengths of the Cardinals and that is how you win big games in the NFL. 

16. Jim Mora, Jr. - SEAHAWKS

If it had not been for the three turnovers, the Seahawks would have pitched a perfect against the Rams on Sunday. As long as their offense can stay healthy, the Seahawks should be contenders for the NFC West title. They have a big divisional showdown this Sunday in San Francisco.

17. Todd Haley – CHIEFS

Not many gave his Chiefs a chance going to Baltimore in week one. Few gave them a shot when quarterback Matt Cassel would not suit up and Brodie Croyle would be the starter. But, this team came back to tie the Ravens at 24 late in the fourth quarter.

That is saying a lot since this team was outgained by 313 yards. The Chiefs will look to improve upon that as they return home to face the Raiders.

18. Raheem Morris – BUCCANNEERS

It was a pretty solid debut for Raheem Morris’ offense on Sunday. Having an excellent day on the ground with the return of Cadillac Williams and newly acquired Derrick Ward. The problem was the Bucs defense was abysmal. The defense gave up three passing touchdowns of over 40 yards in length and was not very effective in stopping the run.

19. Josh McDaniels – BRONCOS

After the game, McDaniels’ next stop was not to the locker room, it was to one of those riverboat casinos on the Ohio River. If you get that lucky, you just want to test your luck in other things. If the Broncos play as poorly as they did on Sunday, this team’s luck will run out fast.

Besides, the miraculous touchdown, the Broncos never had the ball past the Cincinnati 24-yard line. I do not have the numbers on me, but how many teams have ever won a game when they never had a play inside their opponents’ red zone.

20. Steve Spagnuolo – RAMS

Many of us have something in common with Steve. We all have the same number of points scored as Steve as an NFL head coach. Unfortunately, after 60 minutes Spagnuolo and the rest of us are still tied. This Rams team is a mess on offense. I think Spags can be a very good head coach in this league, but this offense is brutal.

21. Jim Schwartz – LIONS

This may be my favorite job to have in America. You cannot go any lower than last year. I am quite sure that Jim Schwartz wishes he still had that Titan defense that he led to be one of the NFL’s best last season.

The Saints had a total of 515 yards of offense and went 9-for-13 on third down conversions. The Lions will get a win this season, but it will take a better effort than they had on Sunday to get it.

22. Eric Mangini – BROWNS

Mangini’s mentor and best enemy, Bill Belichick once said, “Don't give me a defensive player who can't tackle, I've got no use for them.” It appears that Mr. Mangini has inherited some of those players. It’s okay, Eric, I cannot tackle Adrian Peterson in the open field either.


23. Wade Phillips – COWBOYS

You know this team always starts off well. It will start off extremely well if they can christen their new stadium with a win over the Giants on Sunday night. Wade Phillips had to smile a little as Roy Williams, now on the Bengals pretty much watched Brandon Stokley run away with the game-winning touchdown for Denver last week.

I cannot imagine that he was smiling much that his own defense allowed 5.6 yards per carry to Tampa Bay on Sunday.

24. Norv Turner – CHARGERS

That defense sure looked vulnerable on Monday night. The Raiders were able to have an average of 4.6 yards per carry and the nightmarish coverage on that fourth-down bomb where they gave up the lead makes me think that this team is very lucky to be in a very weak division.

One thing I will say about the Raiders-Chargers game, if that Oakland touchdown catch turned incomplete pass does not happen in the last two minutes of the half, does Norv Turner challenge the ruling?

25. Tom Cable – RAIDERS

The go-for-broke bomb on 4th-and-14 from your own 43 was the equivalent of doubling down on 16 in blackjack and hitting a four. The only problem was the Raiders left the Chargers with too much time and one too many cards in the deck and the Chargers pulled out with a 21 just in time.

It appears that Richard Seymour not only will just show, he will show up to play. Seymour had two sacks on Monday night.

26. John Fox - PANTHERS

Jake Delhomme appears to be in the Mark Wohlers stage of his career. It is very tough to recover from giving away a big one from the prior season. The road for Fox and the Panthers gets no easier as they travel to Atlanta this week and then Dallas the following week. 

27. Jim Zorn – REDSKINS

When does it appear that you are probably not going to Disney World with Jason Campbell as your quarterback? Your owner spent $100 million on a defensive tackle but has left you with a quarterback from the discount rack. The fake field goal was a thing of beauty. The poor tackling and the runs on third-and-long were ugly.

28. Lovie Smith – BEARS

A couple more games like that out of new arrival Jay Cutler and Bears fans will recall the glory years at quarterback and I don’t mean Sid Luckman or Jim McMahon, they will talking about Rex Grossman’s era. The Bears defense without Brian Urlacher has made the Bears softer and cuddlier, which is not good in terms of playing football.

I am wondering if any of the Bears coaches were saying to watch for the play-fake on 3rd-and-1 that led to the Packers’ 50-yard game winning score.


29. Jack Del Rio - JAGUARS

The Jaguars averaged 3.9 yards per play in last week’s loss to the Colts. That means if the Jaguars start a drive on their own 20, it will take them 21 plays to score a touchdown.

The team has a defense that is good enough to win it some games, but if its offense especially with its mediocrity at the receiver position cannot make plays the Jaguars and Del Rio’s future is doomed.

30. Gary Kubiak – TEXANS

For a coach who is squarely on the hot seat, an opening day home dud is absolutely no way to instill any confidence in your ownership or the fans. The Texans visit Tennessee on Sunday, which may mean a 0-2 start before their schedule lightens up a little.

31. Dick Jauron – BILLS

For 55 minutes the Bills looked like they could be this year’s Miami Dolphins and be the surprise out of the AFC East. I was really upset at Jauron for not having a Denny Green-style press conference after the game.

The Patriots were who we thought they were and we let ‘em off the hook! Can he get this Bills team to find that consistent play they had for most of the game or will this team not be able to shake the memory?

32. Marvin Lewis – BENGALS

Why did I watch Hard Knocks this year? Marvin, I wanted to believe that this team had truly made strides to get better and not live up to the Bungles nickname. As bad as the loss was for the Bengals, did they really play that well? They did not score a point for the first 59 minutes.

All that being said, I do not know how you recover from a loss like that. It looks like it only gets worse with the Bengals traveling to Green Bay this week and then home for the Steelers in week three.


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