Final Regular-Season NFL Head Coach Power Rankings

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystJanuary 3, 2017

Final Regular-Season NFL Head Coach Power Rankings

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    Associated Press

    While some may be basking in the afterglow of the holidays, the NFL's bleakest day came and went. 

    Black Monday influences so many around the league. Coaches are fired, general managers are dismissed and teams reset.

    Yet the league continues to chug along like a sandcrawler on Tatooine. As of this week, six organizations will have new head coaches next season due to dismissals and an unexpected retirement. 

    Only 12 of the league's coaches have been with the same team for longer than three seasons.  As such, a 63 percent turnover rate occurred before the 2014 NFL draft class could even renegotiate their rookie contracts. 

    Consistency remains the key to success.

    Familiarity with a staff, an understanding of systems and ability to build off each of those allow teams like the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers to remain at or near the top of the league. 

    Throughout the regular season, Bleacher Report evaluated the NFL's 32 head coaches on a weekly basis. This final set of power rankings represents their performances for the entire campaign. 

    Click through the slideshow to find out how each coach performed during the 2016 regular season. 

32. Chip Kelly, San Francisco 49ers

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Last Week: 27

    Quote of the Week: "Despite my feelings for Trent (Baalke) and Chip (Kelly), I felt the decision to change our football leadership was absolutely necessary. The performance of this team has not lived up to my expectations or those of our fans, and that is truly disappointing. We all expected to see this team progress and develop as the season went on, but unfortunately that did not happen. That is why now is the time to find a new direction for this team."

    The San Francisco 49ers are stuck in a cycle of despair after CEO Jed York dismissed general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Chip Kelly, per the team's official site

    "One thing we talk about here all the time is: 'Don't complain,'" Kelly said after Sunday's 25-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks to finish 2-14 overall, per the San Jose Mercury News' Daniel Brown. "We're all privileged to play this game and to coach this game. So every time you get an opportunity to do it, go out and do it."

    Whoever is hired to take over the franchise will be the fourth head coach in four years after a dispute with Jim Harbaugh drove him to Michigan, Jim Tomsula didn't receive a full calendar year at the helm and Kelly performed below expectations. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter (via, the 49ers still owe $69 million to dismissed personnel. 

    Inspired hires and a determined general manager-head coach duo is needed to turn around this once-proud franchise. 

31. Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Last Week: 31

    Quote of the Week: "Mike McCoy is a man of high character, and we thank him for his dedication to the Chargers. The decision to dismiss Mike was made in the best interests of our franchise. Our team’s disappointing performance has not matched this team’s potential and has fallen short of the demanding standards that we seek to impose throughout our organization."

    A once-promising start for former San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy devolved into an unsustainable situation.

    After a 9-7 regular season and a playoff appearance in 2013, the Chargers never improved under McCoy. The team's lack of success became the primary reason behind his dismissal after Sunday's 37-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, as stated by president of football operations John Spanos, per the team's official site 

    Ultimately, a coach is defined by his body of work in the win-loss column. This is where McCoy failed. The Chargers finished 9-23 over the last two seasons. But his team never gave up on him. 

    "He instilled a culture of work ethic and togetherness that we can build on for years to come," general manager Tom Telesco said in the organization's statement.

30. John Fassel, Los Angeles Rams (interim)

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Last Week: 32

    Quote of the Week: "We just need to change the culture, man. We have to create a winning culture around here. That's what we're lacking right now."

    The Los Angeles Rams will cast a wide net to find Jeff Fisher's replacement. Interim head coach John Fassel doesn't appear to be part of those plans. The team is looking for someone who can change its culture, as veteran defensive end William Hayes stated, per's Alden Gonzalez. 

    Fassel did nothing as interim coach to change the locker room or spur interest in retaining him as the permanent head coach. Sunday's 44-6 throttling at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals showed why he isn't the answer. 

    Instead, the Rams are preparing for multiple interviews among the top candidates.

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay and New England Patriots coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia should be counted among the candidates. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the team issued requests to interview Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Buffalo Bills interim head coach Anthony Lynn, too. 

    The players are desperate for a positive change. 

    "I've been here several years and still haven’t had a winning season," offensive lineman Rodger Saffold said. "I know I've worked hard to deserve better."

29. Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars (interim)

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Last Week: 29

    Quote of the Week: "It's frustrating for all of us, but hopefully it's complete, complete change. (A) complete flip will serve us good."

    A lot has yet to be decided, but Doug Marrone could be the Jacksonville Jaguars' next permanent head coach. According to Rapoport, Jaguars owner Shahid Khan received advice to promote Marrone. 

    During his two-game trial run, the Jaguars split their games but played better overall. However, the players don't seem too receptive to the idea. 

    This year's first-round pick, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, spoke out against the current coaching staff and previous head coach Gus Bradley, per's Mike DiRocco. 

    "Every week, we ran the same defense," said Ramsey after the team's 3-13 finish. "We never changed defenses. We never changed plays. ... Nothing ever changed."

    Adjustments are a big part of coaching. Coaches are adamant about their systems, but being able to tweak certain aspects to fit a roster's talent is vital to success. Apparently, the Jaguars under Bradley weren't capable of making these changes. 

    As such, Marrone's potential hire might not achieve what the Jaguars need the most: an innovative coach who can get the most out of the franchise's young talent. 

28. Anthony Lynn, Buffalo Bills (interim)

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Last Week: N/A

    Quote of the Week: "This is where I want to be, is right here with the Buffalo Bills. So, this would be my No. 1."

    Among those pressed into head coaching positions during these final weeks, Anthony Lynn is the most attractive option among other teams. Lynn wants to remain with the Buffalo Bills, per Pro Football Talk's Josh Alper. But he has options. 

    Sunday's 30-10 loss to the New York Jets has no bearing on how the Bills interim head coach is viewed. According to Schefter, the Los Angeles Rams already requested an interview with Lynn.

    This means the Bills should move quickly if they plan to hire Lynn as their permanent head coach. It doesn't appear the organization will, though. 

    USA Today's Tom Pelissero reported the Bills will conduct a coaching search. As such, the possibility exists Buffalo could miss out on hiring its potential No. 1 candidate even when he already stated his preference to stay. 

    "I think if you want to be a head coach in this league, I think you'd have to (consider all opportunities)," Lynn said, per's Mike Rodak.

27. Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns

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    Associated Press

    Last Week: 28

    Quote of the Week: "I could not be more pleased with the job Hue and his staff are doing. You wouldn’t think this was a team that was 1-14 and out there battling and playing 70-plus minutes of football. And I’m really pleased with our personnel group. I think we have the right people in place. It took us a while to get there and I’ll take all the responsibility there as I’ve said in the past. I think this time last year I said this is going to be a multi-year rebuild. It is."

    Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is finally committed to a regime and going all-in with head coach Hue Jackson, per the team's official site

    This is an important step for an organization that experienced constant turmoil. Since taking over the franchise four years ago, Haslam already churned through three head coaches before Jackson. Some still wondered if Jackson was on the hot seat during a 1-15 campaign. 

    Instead, Haslam reiterated his commitment to the coach. It's the right move. Jackson is a highly respected coach, the Browns own the league's youngest roster and neither showed any quit during a torturous regular season. 

    "I think that if people would look at our team, they'd see a young team that fights hard and some veterans that play hard, and a team that's together," Jackson said. "I don’t think there's any faction within what we do or how we do it. We just need to continue to get better in all areas."

26. Todd Bowles, New York Jets

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    Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

    Last Week: 30

    Quote of the Week: "That happens in locker rooms all the time. I don't think that was a problem as far as us winning and losing and playing hard. Arguments are going to happen."

    Friction surfaced in the New York Jets locker room when veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall clashed with some of his teammates. As head coach Todd Bowles stated, per's Rich Cimini, arguments among players happen. It's how the team responds that's important. 

    For Bowles, his status looked to be in danger, especially in the face of what appeared to be a fractured locker room. Instead, the team announced the coach will return after a 5-11 campaign. 

    "That's great," cornerback Darrelle Revis said, per Cimini. "It was a disappointing season this year, and next year coach can get another stab at it and change some things around."

    The coach will need to check some of the personalities on his squad, though. Marshall is the starting point. 

    "Brandon can be volatile at times, but his message is correct, what he's saying," Bowles said. "He's a very passionate player, and he cares. He works his tail off, and he'd like everybody to do that in the same fashion."

    It falls on Bowles to set the tone. Otherwise, the chances he'll receive a fourth season in New York are slim.

25. John Fox, Chicago Bears

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    Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

    Last Week: 26

    Quote of the Week: "I think John’s done a good job in leading our team and his staff in assisting that development. I also think he’s done a good job with just instilling the right culture we want in the locker room. Those aren’t small things."

    John Fox is a coach who builds programs. But he failed in his duty during his first two seasons with the Chicago Bears. After going 6-10 in his first season, the Bears regressed to 3-13 in Year 2. Although, general manager Ryan Pace identified positives despite the lackluster record, per's Jeff Dickerson. 

    While the organization should be disappointed after another poor campaign, continuity is being prioritized.  

    "One thing I really want to stress is, in order for us to develop these younger players, you really need a coaching staff that’s on board with preparing them and playing them," Pace said Sunday before the team's 38-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. 

    Pace and Fox will continue to reshape the roster with the third overall pick in April's NFL draft. The team already relied heavily on rookies this past season in running back Jordan Howard, center Cody Whitehair, linebacker Leonard Floyd and cornerback Cre'Von LeBlanc.

    A veteran coach like Fox can maintain an even keel as these young men continue their development—which should help the team's long-term prospects. 

24. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Last Week: 23

    Quote of the Week: "I just look at things. It's always half-full. I don't have any reason to believe why I wouldn't be."

    Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano remains optimistic about his team and job status despite evidence to the contrary, per the Indianapolis Star's Gregg Doyel

    After establishing themselves as the AFC South's premier program, the Colts slipped into mediocrity. A 16-16 record over the last two seasons kept the team out of the postseason after Indianapolis made three straight playoff appearances in Pagano's first three seasons. 

    The coach remains steadfast in his approach, though. 

    "I know we’ve got the right staff," Pagano said. 

    In some ways, Pagano is a victim of his early success.

    But the Colts underwhelmed the last two seasons. Eventually, someone will be held accountable. It may not be this offseason, but owner Jim Irsay's patience could start to wear thin a year from now if the Colts continue to squander Andrew Luck's talent with such a poor supporting cast and overall direction.

23. Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Last Week: 25

    Quote of the Week: "I think as a coach, I've grown this season in the play-calling realm and utilizing some personnel and getting some young players on the football field. I'm still the same guy as when I started back in September, and maybe just a little thicker skin dealing with (the media). But other than that, nothing much has changed."

    The Philadelphia Eagles' Doug Pederson experienced the ups and downs expected of a first-time head coach. His team started strong with a 3-0 record, faded between Weeks 8-15 and won their final two contests. 

    The coach provided a self-evaluation, per the Philadelphia Inquirer's Zach Berman. But this season was all about building a foundation and expunging Chip Kelly's influence. Pederson accomplished both. 

    Developing first-round quarterback Carson Wentz and leaning on the team's veteran leaders became the two biggest takeaways. 

    "It helps you as a coach to get a true pulse of what's going on in the locker room," safety Malcolm Jenkins said, per the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane. (Pederson's) got to lean on his leaders. If you lose the leaders you lose the locker room. And the way you stay with the leaders is you've got to give them that open voice."

    After a 7-9 campaign, Pederson's next goal is building upon what he established in 2016. 

    "I'm going to evaluate everything," the coach said, per Berman. "Obviously right now, nothing, but we're just going to get into the offseason and we're going to take some time to evaluate, but I don't anticipate (any changes to the staff)."

22. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Last Week: 21

    Quote of the Week: "There's a lot of things that went wrong, a lot of things we can correct, a lot of things we're going to fix, a lot of things we can get better at. As far as I'm concerned, the less it's dwelt on the better."

    It's hard to imagine a faster fall than the one the Carolina Panthers experienced in 2016. After going 15-1 and making an appearance in Super Bowl 50, Ron Rivera's squad didn't answer the bell and fell to 6-10 after Sunday's 17-16 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  

    As Rivera stated, a lot went wrong, per's David Newton. According to the coach, he and the team may have "overthought a lot of things."

    "You get to the point where you worry about things, probably worried about the wrong things," Rivera admitted. 

    The biggest worry going into the offseason is how to get quarterback Cam Newton back to his MVP level of play. Certain things such as injuries and poor offensive line play are out of the quarterback's hands, but the former No. 1 overall pick needs to be smarter in his approach. 

    "He's not as young and nimble as he used to be, and we have to be smart about that," Rivera said. "We have to think about other ways to use him, other ways to use his athleticism."

    Carolina shouldn't be as bad as it was this past season. The team obviously isn't as good as it was in 2015. Rivera needs to find a happy medium where Carolina can be competitive next fall. 

21. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    Last Week: 22

    Quote of the Week: "Mike (Brown) and I have not talked since Friday about my future. I've gone into the last year before, and everything has worked out fine. We’ll see what happens this year, I expect it will be fine. Either way—one way or another—I'm not concerned about that. My biggest concern is me taking care of the football team."

    Despite a disappointing season, the Cincinnati Bengals ended the season on a good note with a 27-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. However, the performance came too little, too late. 

    Cincinnati finished with a 6-9-1 record, and Marvin Lewis' status as the team's head coach remains undecided. According to's Katherine Terrell, the coach has yet to discuss his future with owner Mike Brown. 

    After 14 seasons, 118 victories and seven playoff appearances, Lewis established a new culture in Cincinnati after serving as the league's doormat. Bengals players truly love their coach. 

    "For myself, the man saved my life," cornerback Adam Jones said, per the Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner Jr. "He's an unbelievable leader and truly cares about each individual in here."

    Brown exercised patience earlier in Lewis' tenure when the team missed the postseason from 2006-08. Retirement may be an option, but it doesn't seem likely. 

    "I haven't thought about how long I see myself going," Lewis said. "So I don't know."

    A lot of uncertainty surrounds the coach and the organization as both attempt to decide their future. 

20. Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Last Week: 20

    Quote of the Week: "I honestly don't care about individual awards or statistics." 

    So much went wrong for the Minnesota Vikings this season.

    Head coach Mike Zimmer had to deal with his franchise quarterback blowing out a knee during a non-contract preseason drill, running back Adrian Peterson only played in three games due to injury and the team's offensive line was in shambles. All the while, the coach suffered through a medical condition. 

    So, a feel-good story like Adam Thielen's breakout campaign provided some hope. But Thielen fell just short of 1,000 yards, and Zimmer didn't care, per the St. Paul Pioneer Press' Chris Tomasson. 

    What mattered is the team's final 8-8 record after Sunday's 38-10 victory over the Chicago Bears. All things considered, the Vikings should be happy to finish with a .500 record. 

    Yes, a 5-0 start skewed expectations, but the Vikings couldn't overcome their faults.

    As head coach, Zimmer needs to look at the big picture. Getting Thielen the ball for personal achievement would have been nice, but it's not essential in the grand scheme of things. 

    "You can’t look at that stuff as a receiver because there are so many factors that lead into that kind of stuff," the 26-year-old wide receiver said. "You just got to play the game and try to win."

19. Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Last Week: 16

    Quote of the Week: "You have to assess both (the players and schemes). That's what we’re going to do. We got a lot out of the players we had. The players played hard. We had injuries to key players. But we still have to evaluate everybody, player and coach alike."

    The face of the Washington Redskins organization could dramatically change this offseason. 

    After Sunday's 19-10 loss to the New York Giants with a playoff berth on the line, the franchise needs to reassess where it stands on a few issues. Head coach Jay Gruden understands things can't remain the same after an 8-7-1 campaign, per's John Keim. 

    Of course, the team's biggest offseason decision will come at quarterback. Kirk Cousins wants a long-term contract, but the organization might place the franchise tag on him a second time.

    "The ball was in the court of the team last year, and they chose to tag me, and then the same is true this year," Cousins said, per the Washington Post's  Jerry Brewer. "So if they don’t choose to tag me, then I think that question (of staying in Washington is) valid at that point. But right now, you know, the ball's not in my court."

    Meanwhile, Gruden will contemplate making a change at coordinator after Joe Barry's defense finished 28th overall and surrendered 377.9 yards per game. 

    "I was the main reason we brought him in here," Gruden said, per Keim. "Ultimately, I would think it's my call. I will have a lot of pull on that one."

    Depending on certain decisions, Washington could look very different next fall.

18. Mike Mularkey, Tennessee Titans

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    James Kenney/Associated Press

    Last Week: 19

    Quote of the Week: "The things I saw in Mike last year are things that everyone else has seen this year. He was in a really hard position coming in as interim head coach. It's a thankless job. You can't make your changes. You don't have your people."

    The Tennessee Titans' 2016 campaign didn't end quite like the team wanted, but plenty of progress was seen during Mike Mularkey's first season as head coach. 

    Mularkey became a rare case of an interim head coach hired to a full-time position and succeeding. The organization's controlling owner, Amy Adams Strunk, saw something in the two-time failed head coach that resonated with her, per's Paul Kuharsky. 

    Strunk's instincts were correct. Mularkey provided an atmosphere of accountability. 

    "The things he says, he actually means," defensive back Jason McCourty said. "When the coach stands in front of you on Wednesday and says, 'This is the game plan, this is the way to beat a team, we're going to run the ball, we've got to do this and that on defense,' those are the exact things we go out and do. For us here in the past, we haven't had that."

    Of course, the franchise would have liked to keep quarterback Marcus Mariota healthy throughout the year and make the postseason, but the team still finished with four victories in its last five contests and a 9-7 record—the same as the division-winning Houston Texas. 

17. Bill O'Brien, Houston Texans

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Last Week: 18

    Quote of the Week: "Yeah, we want to be better than 9-7. I mean, there's no doubt about it. I think it's a league, based on the rules and the way that the draft is set up and free agency, it's like what I always say, it's an 8-8 league. We've been a little bit better than that, but we're not aiming for 9-7."

    What the Houston Texans have done under Bill O'Brien's direction isn't sexy, yet it's successful. In the head coach's three seasons, Houston finished 9-7 each time and captured the past two NFC South titles. 

    Of course, O'Brien wants to improve and not hover near the .500 mark, per the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson. Even so, the team will be quite content playing in the postseason. 

    "We've got a home playoff game," O'Brien said about the the Texans' upcoming meeting with the Oakland Raiders. "Great opportunity for our fans and for our players, especially to go out and play well and try to win a playoff game. It's going to be very difficult to do that, but I'm glad for the opportunity."

    The coach has done an absolutely remarkable job this season. The Texans rank first overall in total defense despite losing the game's best player, J.J. Watt, to a season-ending injury. Houston also won in spite of its horrific quarterback play. 

    O'Brien continues to do just enough to keep his team's proverbial head above water. The Texans are limited, but back-to-back division crowns and postseason berths show the staff is getting the most out of its roster.

16. Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Last Week: 17

    Quote of the Week: "We will go back and research why we didn't play well in those five minutes that cost us games that took us out of the playoffs. That will be the research we do as a coaching staff—if we asked them to do things that they couldn’t do too much, why (we) weren’t successful, because we had been successful in those scenarios for two to three years."

    The Arizona Cardinals' Bruce Arians is one of the NFL's best head coaches, but his team didn't live up to expectations in 2016.

    The league is a meritocracy that demands accountability. Arians will be searching for the same during the offseason, per's Josh Weinfuss. He views it as a challenge.

    "If you can put a finger on an individual, you replace him. If you can put a finger on something, you fix it right away," Arians said. "But this was different scenarios each week and that's why this will be fun as a coaching staff to go back and review it all."

    At 7-8-1, the Cardinals never established any consistency. At no point in the season did they win or lose more than two games in a row. After losing three of its first four, Arians' squad tried to do too much instead of just playing their game. 

    "I think maybe everybody started pressing a little bit more," the coach said. "Those will be the critical areas of games lost." 

    Thus, everyone should expect the Cardinals to come out strong to open the 2017 campaign. Arians is too good of a coach to experience back-to-back losing seasons. 

15. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Last Week: 14

    Quote of the Week: "I definitely plan on being back here."

    The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. 

    New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton might want to return, per Rapoport. But he'll be one of the hottest head coaches on the market if the organization is serious about trading him and unloading his contract. 

    "All this is very speculative," quarterback Drew Brees said of the Payton trade rumors, per's Mike Triplett. "So we're talking hypotheticals here. Listen, we deal with things as they come, but I just don't expect that to happen."

    While Payton's departure seems unlikely, a change of scenery could be good for the 53-year-old head coach. After all, the Saints haven't posted a winning record since the 2013 campaign. Three straight 7-9 campaigns aren't encouraging as Brees gets older and the defense can't find a way to slow opponents. 

    A clean break from their head coach just might be what the Saints need. If not, no one will complain considering the success Payton experienced during his 10 seasons with the franchise. 

    "Shoot, I've got four more years on my contract here," the coach said Monday on WWL Radio (via Triplett). "And I plan on honoring that."

14. Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Last Week: 15

    Quote of the Week: "Only one team takes home the ring, and it's not going to be us. The bar has been raised but we need to improve."

    For those who wondered if the Buccaneers made the right decision by dismissing veteran coach Lovie Smith and promoting Dirk Koetter last offseason, the answer is obvious. 

    At 9-7 in his first year, the team's current head coach won more games than Smith did during his two seasons at the helm. 

    Granted, the team fell short of the playoffs even with Sunday's 17-16 victory over the Carolina Panthers, but this team now knows it can compete with the league's best. That's what Koetter referred to when he stated that "the bar has been raised," per Scott Smith of the team's official site. 

    Expectations have been raised, too. 

    "We want to make the playoffs," quarterback Jameis Winston said, per's Jenna Laine. "That's going to be our 'normal' pretty soon."

    Next year, a winning record isn't good enough. This season became a stepping stone for a first-time NFL head coach as he established the type of culture the Buccaneers lacked since Jon Gruden patrolled the sideline. 

13. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens

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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    Last Week: 10

    Quote of the Week: "On the emotional level, (the team) wasn't where it had been in the past."

    Since the Baltimore Ravens began their operations in 1996, only three head coach have led the team. Despite some uncertainty surrounding the organization during the last two seasons, John Harbaugh is prepared to become the longest-tenured head coach in the franchise's short history. 

    But he knows his team experienced a letdown late in the season, per the Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston

    Harbaugh will enter his 10th season once the 2017 campaign officially starts. However, he might not make it to an 11th if the team continues to miss the playoffs. 

    "We have to address some issues," linebacker Terrell Suggs said, per's Jamison Hensley. "We have to be honest with ourselves and address those issues if we don't want to be on the outside looking in."

    Over the last two seasons, the Ravens own a 13-19 record. Injuries played a big role in the team's downturn, but those only served as an excuse. 

    "We're definitely not a .500 or losing-season-type team," fellow linebacker C.J. Mosley stated. "With the talent we have, the way we play and the way we prepare ourselves, we should definitely be in the playoffs every year."

12. Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Last Week: 11

    Quote of the Week: "It's a huge quantum shift mentally and, you know, we’ve got to play like we’re capable of playing."

    The Detroit Lions backed their way into the playoffs courtesy of a Washington Redskins loss. But the team and head coach Jim Caldwell don't care. 

    After his early success with the Indianapolis Colts, Caldwell understands his current team can't let the way it played to end the season permeate into its mindset as the players prepare for the postseason, per's Michael Rothstein

    Detroit lost its last three games, including Sunday's 31-24 meeting with the Green Bay Packers. 

    "Losing is not a good taste at all. Of course, you don't want to lose going into the playoffs, but it's a whole new season when you get into the playoffs," veteran linebacker Josh Bynes said. "Despite what you do or whatever happens during the season, that's all that matters."

    For all the hubbub that surrounded this year's campaign—specifically the lingering questions about Caldwell's job status—the Lions still have an opportunity to do something in the playoffs. Their 9-7 record and cardiac-inducing campaign no longer matter. 

    The team's coach can solidify his standing with a strong showing. After all, the team has now made the second season twice in his three seasons. 

11. Ben McAdoo, New York Giants

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Last Week: 13

    Quote of the Week: "I don’t have any kryptonite."

    A tough task lies ahead of the New York Giants. Ben McAdoo's squad travels to Green Bay to face the red-hot Packers in Sunday's wild-card playoff matchup. 

    As McAdoo stated, he doesn't have any kryptonite to slow quarterback Aaron Rodgers, per the New York Post's Steve Serby. The coach's respect for Rodgers is mutual. 

    "How he earns your respect is that he's a grinder," Rodgers said earlier in the season before these two teams first met. "He's great at X's and O's, he's great with the ball. He cares about it, and when you see somebody who cares about it as much as Ben does, you can't help but have respect for the guy."

    Even if the Giants don't find a way to slow the Packers offense, the performance shouldn't overshadow what McAdoo accomplished in his first season at the helm. 

    After the team missed the playoffs in each of the last four seasons, the fact the first-time head coach led them back to the postseason is an awesome feat considering the team still has issues throughout the roster. 

    Tom Coughlin left a lasting legacy that could have been difficult to follow, but his former offensive coordinator already showed he's up to the task. 

10. Gary Kubiak, Denver Broncos

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Last Week: 12

    Quote of the Week: "As I told our team last night, this is an extremely difficult decision to step down as head coach. I love to work and I love football, but ultimately the demands of the job are no longer a good fit for me." 

    When these power rankings began nearly four months ago, a simple adage defined the top coaches: "To be the man, you gotta beat the man." 

    At the time, Gary Kubiak and his Denver Broncos were the baddest dudes on the block after winning Super Bowl 50. Now, he's stepping down as head coach, per the team's official site

    "I gave everything I had to this team the last two seasons, but this year, in particular, has been tough on me," Kubiak said. "As hard as it is to leave this position, I know that it's the best thing for myself, my family and the Denver Broncos." 

    The Broncos performed below expectations this season with a 9-7 campaign and missed the playoffs, but he can walk away with his head held high and his ring finger adorned with a large diamond-encrusted chunk of gold. 

    Even if Kubiak's team took a step back this season, he remained one of the league's top coaches.

9. Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Last Week: 9

    Quote of the Week: "The regular season is over. We know we still have a lot to play for. We know (Pittsburgh), we're going to be ready for them. It's a playoff game, win or go home. Go get it."

    When Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi spoke about the playoffs, per's James Walker, he indirectly praised Adam Gase. The first-year head coach is a legitimate candidate for NFL Coach of the Year after turning a 6-10 squad into a 10-6 contender. 

    Gase did so by leaning on the ground game and allowing the Boise State product to run wild. The second-year runner amassed 1,272 yards and provided the Dolphins with an offensive focal point. 

    "This is my first playoff in my career, so it's exciting," Ajayi said after Sunday's 35-14 loss to the New England Patriots. "We didn't get the result we wanted today, but we get the opportunity to keep playing. Every game after this is elimination. We still have a chance to go get it."

    The 38-year-old coach will have a big decision to make in his first postseason at the helm. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill's status for Sunday's meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers has yet to be decided. 

    "I need to know what his movement skills are, where we are as far as the structure of his knee and things like that," Gase said, per Walker. "Once I get that update, I will have a better idea of what we're going to do moving forward."

    Of the seven head coaches hired this past offseason, none made a bigger difference within his organization than Gase, and he quickly established himself among the league's best. 

8. Jack Del Rio, Oakland Raiders

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    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Last Week: 7

    Quote of the Week: "We'll see. We'll see. We'll see how the week goes. Between Connor (Cook) and Matt (McGloin) we'll see who ... can get the most reps and who we feel the most comfortable (with) going into the game."

    The Oakland Raiders might not be thrilled with their quarterback situation, but 20 teams would love to be in their position after qualifying for the playoffs. Even with Sunday's 24-6 loss to the Denver Broncos, the Raiders still finished 12-4. 

    Of course, head coach Jack Del Rio isn't going to divulge which of his quarterbacks will start Saturday against the Houston Texans, per's Paul Gutierrez. Either Connor Cook or Matt McGloin will likely struggle against the Texans' top-ranked defense, so the coach is trying to manufacture some type of edge. 

    "The quarterbacks are going to give us what they have, do the best they can, and we've got to play well around them," Del Rio said. "And we can't expect them to come in and put us on their shoulders." 

    Del Rio is in a good position whether the team wins or loses.

    The coach can show how good of a job he's done if the Raiders find a way to win with a backup quarterback. If Houston wins, Derek Carr's injury provides Oakland with an excuse why the team faltered in the postseason. 

    The fact Del Rio's squad is in the playoffs at all speaks to a massive cultural change since the franchise last experienced the postseason in 2002.

7. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Last Week: 8

    Quote of the Week: "We have bigger aspirations. So this is the first step."

    Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers know what it's like to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. They've felt the weight of it in their hands. They probably even kissed it. 

    The goal in Green Bay isn't to make the playoffs; it's to win a Super Bowl. Those are the aspirations McCarthy spoke of, per's Rob Demovsky. 

    Prior to Thanksgiving, those goals appeared to be out of reach. Green Bay sat at 4-6 overall before Rodgers inspired his team by proclaiming it could win out. The group did, finished 10-6 and enters the playoffs as the NFC's fourth seed. 

    "I believe in myself and my abilities, but I also believe in this team," Rodgers said. "This wasn't just a shot in the dark. It was an optimistic belief in my teammates that we were going to start handling adversity better."

    McCarthy deserves credit for being a steadying hand and taking over the offensive play-calling duties. Also, he developed a comfort level with Ty Montgomery at running back and Davante Adams as a bigger part of the scheme. 

    Only four other coaches who made the playoffs understand what it takes to win a Super Bowl. This experience makes them dangerous. The Packers can rely on the past, but they've peaked at the right time. 

6. Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons

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    David Goldman/Associated Press

    Last Week: 6

    Quote of the Week: "We have a term 'trust your training, trust your teammate, and trust yourself.' That’s how we put it all into the week and then at the end of the week we try to empty that bucket out and go for it in every single fashion."

    Atlanta Falcons faithful can now trust head coach Dan Quinn, because the team has bought into his message, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. 

    Quinn's squad is dynamic on the offensive side of the ball and ranks seconds with an average of 415.8 yards per game. Quarterback Matt Ryan is considered one of the favorites to be named MVP, too. 

    "At the end of the day, I think the most important thing is we have given ourselves a chance," Ryan said, per Ledbetter. "We have an opportunity in front of us now. It'll be fun."

    With Sunday's 38-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons finished 11-5 and captured their first AFC South division title since 2012, a year after experiencing a midseason collapse. 

    Now, the Falcons are the NFC's No. 2 seed and counted among the top Super Bowl challengers. 

    "Well when you win games, it's funny how that correlates to having fun," Ryan said. "For sure, though, it's been a fun year. We've done some good things on the offensive side of the ball, but the most important thing is all of the things we've done have given us the opportunity that we have now."

5. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Jared Wickerham/Associated Press

    Last Week: 5

    Quote of the Week: "The fight is real. The fight has been on display all the way back to Latrobe with this bunch. Respect that element of it. That can only carry you so far. We have to execute better moving forward."

    It may not have been the prettiest season in Pittsburgh Steelers history, but there's something about this year's squad that continues to respond to adversity. Head coach Mike Tomlin saw the team's character dating back to training camp, per's Jeremy Fowler. 

    After starting 4-5, the Steelers rattled off seven straight victories, including Sunday's 27-24 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown or running back Le'Veon Bell. 

    In doing so, Pittsburgh finished with an 11-5 record, another division crown and the AFC's No. 3 seed. 

    "We have to remember it's about usto get our stuff together before we worry about other people," linebacker Lawrence Timmons said.

    Now the Steelers are the proverbial team no one wants to face. They own a potent offense and continue to improve on the other side of the ball. 

    Tomlin may be nothing but a cheerleader, but he knows how to push the right buttons since Pittsburgh is poised for another playoff run. 

4. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys

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    Corey Perrine/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3

    Quote of the Week: "The only thing that matters is what we do now. We have put ourselves in a great position, and it’s time to get back to work."

    The Dallas Cowboys have an upcoming bye, so they can take a step back and enjoy the moment even if head coach Jason Garrett doesn't want to, per's Jean-Jacques Taylor. 

    No one can blame Garrett for wanting to get back to work and prepare after the team's 13-3 campaign ended in a 27-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. 

    A little context is needed, though.

    It doesn't seem too long ago when Garrett was considered Mr. 8-8 after finishing with a .500 record for three consecutive seasons. Now, the Cowboys just tied their best regular-season mark in franchise history. The team owns the NFC's No. 1 playoff seed. Plus, quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott are the NFL's most exciting duo. 

    "If you're a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, you see the chemistry, you see a camaraderie," owner Jerry Jones said. 

    Garrett is no longer the face of mediocrity. He's now one of the league's best coaches, and he deserves to be recognized as such. 

3. Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Last Week: 4

    Quote of the Week: "We're really, really proud of that. I think it speaks to a lot of facets to our program—the job that John (Schneider) has done to keep our roster strong and competitive, our core players who have led this thing for years. They're the ones who have done this, and that's a great accomplishment for these guys."

    It's hard to win in the NFL at a consistent level. For instance, both of last year's Super Bowl squads failed to make the playoffs this season. Thus, the Seattle Seahawks' string of success over the last five years stands among the league's most impressive runs. 

    With Sunday's 25-23 victory, the Seahawks improved to 10-5-1 overall, clinched another divisional crown and secured the NFC's No. 3 playoff seed. 

    Every year since the 2012 campaign, Seattle won at least 10 games in the regular season. As head coach Pete Carroll stated, per the team's official site, the organization is quite proud of of the achievement. 

    "It comes down to consistency, hard work, players playing for one another, our coaching staff is unbelievable, and then having the best fans in the National Football League," quarterback Russell Wilson said. 

    Carroll's influence continues to be a positive at every level of the franchise even if the team isn't as dominant as seen in recent years.

2. Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Last Week: 2

    Quote of the Week: "I'm glad we have a rest, as far as a little time here with the bye, but you want to stay hungry—that's something that the guys felt last year. They got a little taste of it and they want to keep playing."

    On the last day of the regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs secured a division crown and the AFC's No. 2 playoff seed with a 37-27 victory over the San Diego Chargers. 

    Despite the team's performance, head coach Andy Reid is concerned with his team becoming too lax during the bye week, per the team's official site

    Due to the lackluster lineup of quarterbacks among the AFC's playoff-bound teams, the Chiefs are positioned well as a legitimate Super Bowl contender alongside the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers. 

    Alex Smith doesn't receive enough credit for his consistency and play-making ability. 

    "I will say the great thing about our team is as much celebrating (as we're doing), and obviously, the guys feel good in there, this team has a great understanding that this is just an opportunity right now," the quarterback said. "We have to make the most of it."

    A first-round bye speaks to the consistency Reid brought to the franchise. The Chiefs are 43-21 during his tenure, including a 23-9 record in the last two seasons. The only coach with a better record since the start of the 2015 campaign claims Bleacher Report's No. 1 spot...

1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

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    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    Last Week: 1

    Quote of the Week: "I'm in a good place. I’m not looking back at the past. It’s all about moving forward. I’m glad I’m here with the people around me. I feel wanted. That’s a good feeling."

    The little things separate great coaches from the rest of their profession. The New England Patriots' Bill Belichick is arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history. 


    Because he identifies and concentrates on the little things other teams overlook. Two examples can be found among the Patriots personnel. 

    The rest of the league wrote off running back LeGarrette Blount after being unceremoniously dumped by the Pittsburgh Steelersthe most stable organization in American professional sports. Blount returned to New England. This season, the running back eclipsed 1,000 yards for the second time and first since his rookie campaign and led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns. 

    Wide receiver Michael Floyd became the coach's latest project after being released by the Arizona Cardinals following a DUI arrest. Within two weeks, he's already made an impact. During Sunday's 35-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins, the former first-round pick caught three passes for 36 yards and a touchdown. The 27-year-old target now feels wanted, per the Boston Herald's Karen Guregian

    The Patriots coach saw something in both and nurtured their talent instead of shunning them. To steal from the great Tina Turner, Belichick is simply the best; better than all the rest.