Power Ranking Every Coaching Staff Heading into the 2019 NFL Season

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystJune 27, 2019

Power Ranking Every Coaching Staff Heading into the 2019 NFL Season

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    NFL rosters are still a long way from being finished. There are still training camps and the preseason left to go. But the coaching staffs that will guide those players through the summer and into the regular season are already set.

    Some teams have a collection of (relatively) young guns looking to make their marks as coaches in the pros. Others are led by a group of grizzled veteran warhorses with decades of experience who have been there, done that and bought the T-shirt.

    Young and old, good and bad—we're here to rank them all.

    Since we are ranking staffs, the assistants play a part, especially if those assistants include veteran coordinators with track records of success at the game's highest level.

    But to an even larger extent, this is about the big kahunas. The head coaches. What they've done in the pros. What they might be capable of doing. And thanks to the folks at Head Coach Ranking, how they stacked up against one another in a number of categories in 2018.

    Bet you can't guess who's No. 1.

    Actually, you probably can—but I won't spoil it.

    *Career head-coaching records are in parentheses.


32. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Zac Taylor (0-0)

    Offensive Coordinator: Brian Callahan

    Defensive Coordinator: Lou Anarumo

    After over a decade-and-a-half, more playoff trips than you can count on one hand and zero postseason victories, the Marvin Lewis era is over in Cincinnati.

    Like so many NFL teams this year, the Bengals went with a young offensive mind with limited pro experience, bringing in 36-year-old Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor to run the show.

    Taylor spent just one year in that role in L.A. after working as an offensive assistant with the wide receivers the year before. He has ties to his new city after a season as an assistant at the University of Cincinnati, and he was part of the Miami Dolphins' staff from 2012-15, serving as interim offensive coordinator for five games in 2015.

    Taylor's coordinators have followed similar trajectories, in that they have coaching experience but not in their present positions.

    There are a lot more questions than answers in the Queen City in 2019.

31. Arizona Cardinals

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Kliff Kingsbury (0-0)

    Offensive Coordinator: Kliff Kingsbury

    Defensive Coordinator: Vance Joseph

    You have to say this for the Arizona Cardinals. They didn't shy away from a gamble.

    In a modern NFL in which offensive innovation is all the rage, the Cardinals tabbed Kingsbury as their new head coach after one disastrous season under Steve Wilks, and they're hopeful that the 39-year-old will have success both with his Air Raid offense and No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray.

    Kingsbury's offenses regularly accumulated yardage at Texas Tech. But what he didn't do was win—his career record in six seasons with the Red Raiders is five games under .500, and Kingsbury made it to just three bowls over that span.

    Passing game coordinator Tom Clements will aid the new head coach on offense, and Kingsbury hired a veteran defensive coordinator in Vance Joseph, who is coming off a two-year stint as the head coach of the Denver Broncos.

    But whether this hire is a success or a disaster depends almost entirely on how Kingsbury's scheme translates to the pros.

30. Miami Dolphins

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Brian Flores (0-0)

    Offensive Coordinator: Chad O'Shea 

    Defensive Coordinator: Patrick Graham

    On one hand, new Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has already had more success in the pro ranks than many ever do. With a decade-and-a-half under Bill Belichick (most recently as the de facto defensive coordinator), Flores has been part of four Super Bowl championship runs.

    On the other hand, the Belichick coaching tree hasn't borne a lot of fruit. Out of Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels, Bill O'Brien, Matt Patricia and Mike Vrabel, only O'Brien (42-38) and Vrabel (9-7) have winning records as head coaches, and Vrabel's mark is just over one season.

    Flores isn't likely to break that string either—at least in 2019. The Dolphins have freely admitted that the franchise is in the opening stages of a rebuild, and it's going to take time to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

    Flores' past successes as an assistant are enough to keep him out the basement here. But that shine could wear off quickly.

29. New York Giants

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Pat Shurmur (15-34)

    Offensive Coordinator: Mike Shula

    Defensive Coordinator: James Bettcher

    The New York Giants are Pat Shurmur's second bite at the head coaching apple—the third if you count his single game as interim HC with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015.

    With a career record that has 19 fewer wins than losses, it could also mark his last.

    There are at least a couple of reasons for optimism. James Bettcher's defense in 2018 wasn't especially good (24th overall), but it did improve in several statistical categories relative to the year before. Mike Shula's offense spurred an increase in scoring, with 123 more points than in 2017. That's Big Blue's largest such increase in 85 years.

    But the Giants aren't an especially talented team. They traded away their best player in Odell Beckham Jr. And at some point during the 2019 season, New York will likely hand the reins from Eli Manning to rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.

    If Shurmur is still in the Big Apple at the beginning of the 2020 season, it will be something of an upset.

28. Denver Broncos

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Vic Fangio (0-0)

    Offensive Coordinator: Rich Scangarello

    Defensive Coordinator: Ed Donatell

    It's about time that Vic Fangio got a chance to run an NFL team. Over the last two-plus decades, Fangio has developed a reputation as one of the best defensive minds in the game. He was the first defensive coordinator the Carolina Panthers ever had. He also had stints in Indianapolis, Houston, Baltimore, San Francisco and, most recently, Chicago.

    The nightmare of the Bears defense in 2018? Fangio was the conductor for that symphony of destruction.

    His fingerprints will no doubt be all over the Denver defense as well. But in Ed Donatell, who has several pro seasons as a coordinator, Fangio got a veteran assistant to take care of the day-to-day defensively.

    The question mark will be on the other side of the ball. Offensive line coach Mike Munchak has over two decades of experience, but the rest of the offensive staff—including quarterbacks coach T.J. McCartney and wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni—have short resumes at the professional level.

27. New York Jets

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Adam Gase (23-25)

    Offensive Coordinator: Dowell Loggains

    Defensive Coordinator: Gregg Williams

    The history of the NFL is littered with coaches who make excellent coordinators but struggle in the big chair.

    Call it Wade Phillips syndrome.

    If Adam Gase's three years with the Miami Dolphins are any indication, he may suffer from that malady. In his first year in South Florida, the Dolphins went 10-6 and made their only playoff appearance of the past decade. But Miami went 13-19 the next two seasons, Gase reportedly clashed with players, and the team showed him the door this offseason.

    It didn't take long for the 41-year-old to find work with Miami's AFC East rivals, and he has some things working in his favor. He brought in a pair of veteran coordinators to help lead his staff, and the Jets were aggressive in adding talent in free agency.

    But the pressure is going to be on Gase and the Jets to turn things around. If the team doesn't start winning pretty damn quickly, it's going to be a short honeymoon.

    Welcome to the Big Apple.

    And for God's sake...blink, man.


26. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Doug Marrone (31-35)

    Offensive Coordinator: John DeFilippo

    Defensive Coordinator: Todd Wash

    Like many of the veteran head coaches toward the bottom of this list, Doug Marrone will be pressured in a big way in 2019. He led the Jags to the AFC title game in 2017, but the team fell apart last year.

    That collapse led to quite a few changes on the offensive side of the ball.

    There's a new starting quarterback in Nick Foles and a new coordinator in John DeFilippo. The former is all but certainly a step in the right direction. The jury is out on the latter, who didn't make it a full season as OC in Minnesota last year before the Vikings showed him the door. It marked his second single-season stint in that capacity after serving as offensive coordinator for the 3-13 Browns in 2015.

    Heading into his fourth season as Jacksonville's DC, Todd Wash's defense, which was top-five the past two campaigns, is essentially a known commodity.

    The offense will determine whether we see the 2017 Jaguars or the 2018 iteration this fall.

    Marrone ranked 31st in play-calling last year, according to Head Coach Ranking, so letting DeFilippo take a crack at it may not be the worst idea.

25. Detroit Lions

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Matt Patricia (6-10)

    Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Bevell

    Defensive Coordinator: Paul Pasqualoni

    Matt Patricia's first year as the head coach in Detroit was an up-and-down affair. His team beat the Green Bay Packers twice and smoked the New England Patriots at Ford Field. But beside those wins over Green Bay and the Super Bowl champs, the Lions struggled offensively for much of the season, and those victories included two of the team's three home wins.

    Those struggles led to a change in the offensive coordinator, with Darrell Bevell taking over for Jim Bob Cooter after sitting out the 2018 season. Prior to that, Bevell spent over a decade running offenses in Minnesota and Seattle, where he developed a reputation for a power-running style.

    There were reports early last season that some veterans were unhappy about the intensity of practices in training camp, although that situation appeared to improve as the year wore on.

    In other words, it was a typical first campaign—a mixed bag as Patricia and his staff tried to put their stamp on the team.

    If the Lions lose double-digit games again in 2019, though, Patricia could be in trouble.

24. Oakland Raiders

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    Eric Risberg/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Jon Gruden (99-93)

    Offensive Coordinator: Greg Olson

    Defensive Coordinator: Paul Guenther

    Among head coaches with a Super Bowl win, Jon Gruden is easily the lowest-ranked HC on this list. And to his credit, his next win in that capacity will put him at 100 regular-season victories.

    The problem is that after posting the second 4-12 season of his career in 2018—the second such mark in his past four years of coaching—Gruden's record is starting to near the .500 mark.

    That's not so super.

    The Raiders added players galore in the offseason, including veterans like star wideout Antonio Brown and a trio of first-round picks (defensive end Clelin Ferrell, running back Josh Jacobs and safety Johnathan Abram). And Gruden's staff has no shortage of experience at the NFL level—over 50 years just between Gruden and his coordinators.

    But we're still talking about a head coach who was away from the sideline for nearly a decade before re-joining the Raiders last year.

    At least that 10-year, $100 million contract offers him some job security—for better or worse.

    Given that Gruden tied Doug Marrone for the worst among head coaches not named Steve Wilks in 2018, according to Head Coach Ranking, it might be the latter.

23. Cleveland Browns

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Freddie Kitchens (0-0)

    Offensive Coordinator: Todd Monken

    Defensive Coordinator: Steve Wilks

    Expectations are higher in Cleveland than they've been in years. And a good portion of the reason is Freddie Kitchens, who was the Browns' running backs coach at the outset of the 2018 season.

    After shining as the interim offensive coordinator last year, Kitchens was handed the keys to the franchise in the offseason. The players appear to have rallied around him. And the Browns were as good a team over the second half of the last campaign as they've been since rejoining the NFL in 1999.

    Kitchens also had the sense to surround himself with an experienced staff. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken ran the league's top unit in terms of passing yardage in Tampa last year. Steve Wilks was a hot mess as a head coach in Arizona, but his ability to run a defense is what got him the opportunity.

    Kitchens had best be a good manager of both expectations and personalities. 

    But the potential for early success is there.

22. Green Bay Packers

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Matt LaFleur (0-0)

    Offensive Coordinator: Nathaniel Hackett

    Defensive Coordinator: Mike Pettine

    Matt LaFleur receives the distinction of being the highest-ranked rookie head coach—for a few reasons.

    The first is the work he's done as the offensive coordinator in Los Angeles and Tennessee over the past two seasons. The Titans didn't exactly light the world on fire last year, but it had as much to do with personnel as coaching. That he's a branch of the Sean McVay tree is partly how he got this gig to begin with.

    The second is that like Kitchens, LaFleur had the sense to hire veteran coordinators—one of whom (Pettine) has been a head coach (albeit a bad one).

    Whereas other first-time head coaches were saddled with rebuilding franchises or perennial tomato cans hoping for turnarounds, LaFleur inherited one of the league's most storied franchises and a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Aaron Rodgers.

    Of course, that's a double-edged sword. While a better team and great quarterback in theory offer a greater chance at success, said quarterback (allegedly) has a Hall of Fame-sized ego, and the Packers will be expected to contend right away.

21. Buffalo Bills

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Sean McDermott (15-17)

    Offensive Coordinator: Brian Daboll

    Defensive Coordinator: Leslie Frazier

    A year ago at this time, Sean McDermott's Bills appeared to be headed in the right direction—and then some. In his first season in charge, the Bills won nine games and ended the league's longest postseason drought.

    However, 2018 was backslide city. The team pitched and lurched its way to a 6-10 record, raising questions about whether it was just a blip or the same old Bills.

    Still, there were a couple of reasons for a slip, not the least of which was the installation of a rookie quarterback in Josh Allen. The Bills may have only won six games, but they weren't an easy out—they went 4-3 in their last seven games.

    In Daboll and Frazier, McDermott has a pair of veteran coordinators, the latter of which has head coaching experience.

    As often as not in the last two years, this club has played over its head—and that's a testament to the staff.

20. Washington Redskins

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Jay Gruden (35-44-1)

    Offensive Coordinator: Kevin O'Connell

    Defensive Coordinator: Greg Manusky

    Based just on his record, Jay Gruden looks overranked here. In five seasons in Washington, he has never won 10 games. He's made the postseason just once—back in 2015.

    But with the exception of a miserable first year, Gruden has also never lost 10 games in a season. Over the first half of the 2018 campaign (before Alex Smith got hurt), the Redskins looked like the best team in the NFC East. And Gruden was a respectable 13th in overall ranking last year, per Head Coach Ranking.

    He's a better coach than his record—a coach who has been saddled with flawed rosters and hit hard by injuries who manages year in and year out to keep the Redskins competitive.

    There's one assistant in D.C. who bears a mention of his own as well. The Redskins have arguably the best O-line in the game when everyone is healthy, and quite a bit of the credit there belongs to the venerable Bill Callahan, who was Oakland's head coach the last time the Raiders made the Super Bowl.

19. Tennessee Titans

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Mike Vrabel (9-7)

    Offensive Coordinator: Arthur Smith

    Defensive Coordinator: Dean Pees

    The Tennessee Titans' staff is one of the more difficult ones to peg.

    In Mike Vrabel's first season in charge, the Titans won nine games and narrowly missed the playoffs despite a roster that wasn't chock-full with talent. In the team's Week 17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts—the game that put Indy in the postseason and knocked the Titans out—Blaine Gabbert was the starting quarterback.

    The Titans were also a sneaky-good eighth in total defense last year under the tutelage of Vrabel and coordinator Dean Pees.

    Opponents may not be terrified of the Titans, but they surely don't look forward to the matchup either.

    Tennessee did miss the playoffs last year, though. And there are big questions on offense after LaFleur bolted for Green Bay and Vrabel made the occasional gaffe in his rookie season, including an ill-advised two-point try against the Chargers in London that cost the team a chance at overtime.

    So while Vrabel's staff sneaks inside the top 20, it's just barely.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Bruce Arians (49-30-1)

    Offensive Coordinator: Byron Leftwich

    Defensive Coordinator: Todd Bowles

    Actually, that record of 49-30-1 isn't entirely accurate. Arians led the Indianapolis Colts to a 9-3 mark in 2012 while Chuck Pagano was receiving treatment for and recovering from leukemia, but those wins officially belong to Pagano.

    Arians did win the Coach of the Year award that campaign, though. He won another in Arizona. 

    In six seasons as an NFL head coach (counting 2012), Arians has posted a losing record just once—and that was a 7-8-1 mark. He's won double-digit games three times.

    Yes, Leftwich was the OC for the league's worst offense last year, but not even the legendary Bill Walsh could have fixed the 2018 Cardinals. And while Todd Bowles' tenure as head coach of the Jets wasn't especially impressive, he's long been considered an excellent defensive mind.

    All in all, this ranking might be a little low.

17. San Francisco 49ers

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    Josie Lepe/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Kyle Shanahan (10-22)

    Offensive Coordinator: Kyle Shanahan

    Defensive Coordinator: Robert Saleh

    It may seem odd that a staff that has won just 10 games over two seasons is ranked this highly.

    But this is a testament to how good of an offensive coach I'm convinced Kyle Shanahan is.

    For most of Shanahan's first campaign, the San Francisco 49ers had no quarterback. They acquired one in Jimmy Garoppolo, handed him a fat extension after a hot streak to close the 2017 campaign and then watched him tear his ACL three games into last season.

    It's been a theme with Shanahan's 49ers—the team's been hit as hard by injuries as any over the past two years. By the end of the 2018 season, San Francisco was rolling out undrafted rookie Nick Mullens under center—and competing.

    Shanahan made the most of what he had, finishing as a top-10 play-caller, per Head Coach Ranking.

    This year, Garoppolo should be healthy, and Saleh's defense will feature five first-round picks with the addition of rookie Nick Bosa and veteran Dee Ford.

    The breakout so many expected a year ago may just have been tardy.

16. Houston Texans

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Bill O'Brien (42-38)

    Offensive Coordinator: Tim Kelly

    Defensive Coordinator: Romeo Crennel

    Depending on who you ask, the Houston Texans either succeed because of Bill O'Brien's coaching or in spite of it.

    O'Brien's supporters point to four winning seasons and three playoff trips in his five years running the show—including an 11-victory 2018 that won the AFC South.

    Detractors point to a 1-3 playoff record (including a thumping at the hands of the Colts last January) and a talent-laden roster on both sides of the ball that can't seem to get over the proverbial hump.

    Frankly, they're both right. O'Brien's staff has done a good job of keeping the Texans competitive and in the postseason hunt year after year. But two of those playoff defeats were at home by at least two touchdowns.

    Among last year's playoff teams, O'Brien is easily the coach under the most pressure in 2019.

15. Carolina Panthers

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    Mike McCarn/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Ron Rivera (71-56-1)

    Offensive Coordinator: Norv Turner

    Defensive Coordinator: Eric Washington

    When Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is good, he's really good. In eight years running the Panthers, Rivera has guided Carolina to three 11-win (or more) seasons and a berth in Super Bowl 50. "Riverboat Ron" owns a pair of Coach of the Year awards.

    He also benefits from having an offensive coordinator in Norv Turner who has been around since the days of leather helmets. In fact, Turner has almost twice as much head-coaching experience as Rivera—15 years over three teams.

    Here comes the "but."

    But when Rivera's bad, he's really bad. The Panthers have more losing seasons than winning ones under Rivera after last year's second-half collapse dropped the team to 7-9. Rivera owns some of the blame for that collapse as well, tying for the worst clock-management grade in 2018 at Head Coach Rankings.

    If the Panthers aren't back in the playoffs in 2019, he won't get a 10th year.

14. Minnesota Vikings

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Mike Zimmer (47-32-1)

    Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Stefanski

    Defensive Coordinator: George Edwards

    A year ago at this time, the Minnesota Vikings were a Super Bowl contender. But that never happened. Thanks mainly to an inconsistent offense that struggled to run the ball, the Vikings went 8-7-1 and missed the playoffs.

    Changes were made to Mike Zimmer's staff even before last season ended. Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo was fired, replaced by quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski. Stefanski got to keep his new title in 2019, but there's been another cook added to the kitchen: veteran head coach Gary Kubiak, who was hired as an assistant head coach/offensive advisor.

    Given the talent on Minnesota's roster and Zimmer's three winning seasons in five years (including a 13-3 mark two years ago), last season's expectations will likely carry over to 2019.

    And that leaves the seat under the no-nonsense Zimmer a tad on the warm side.

13. Atlanta Falcons

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    John Amis/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Dan Quinn (36-28)

    Offensive Coordinator: Dirk Koetter

    Defensive Coordinator: Dan Quinn

    On one hand, in his four years at the helm of the Atlanta Falcons, Dan Quinn's had a fair amount of success. He's won eight more games than he's lost and has made two playoff trips and a Super Bowl appearance.

    On the other hand, Quinn's Falcons are coming off the worst season of his tenure (7-9), that Super Bowl appearance ended with the worst collapse in the title-game's history, and he ranked a so-so 13th in 2018, according to Head Coach Rankings.

    There are big changes afoot in 2019. The Falcons brought back fired Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter as offensive coordinator—a position he held with Atlanta from 2012 to 2014. And Quinn has taken over as the team's defensive coordinator, harkening back to his days with the Seattle Seahawks.

    In addition to Quinn and Koetter, two other members of Atlanta's staff have head coaching experience. Assistant head coach Raheem Morris was head man in Tampa from 2009 to 2011, and tight ends coach Mike Mularkey has run three different NFL teams (Buffalo, Jacksonville and Tennessee).

12. Dallas Cowboys

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Jason Garrett (77-59)

    Offensive Coordinator: Kellen Moore

    Defensive Coordinator: Rod Marinelli

    For the first two-thirds of his head coaching career, Jason Garrett was considered a punchline. Over his first six seasons, Garrett had one playoff trip and was an annual fixture on "hot seat" lists.

    Garrett's still on those lists. But the last three years, it's been a different story. Since Dak Prescott hit Dallas, Garrett's 32-16, has made the postseason twice and has won a Coach of the Year award.

    Maybe he can coach after all.

    Garrett's complemented by some of the better defensive coaches in the game. Rod Marinelli's been his coordinator since 2014, and defensive backs coach Kris Richard would be a coordinator on more than a few teams.

    To his credit, Garrett's only had one losing season in eight full years in Dallas. But as the team's gotten better, the expectations around it have become Texas-sized.

    Like quite a few of the veteran head coaches in the middle of these rankings, it's likely playoffs or bust in 2019.

11. Indianapolis Colts

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Frank Reich (10-6)

    Offensive Coordinator: Nick Sirianni

    Defensive Coordinator: Matt Eberflus

    Frank Reich's mantra has got to be "it ain't over until it's over."

    In 1984, while playing quarterback at the University of Maryland, Reich came off the bench to erase a 31-0 deficit against Miami. At the time, it was the biggest comeback in NCAA history. Then, in the 1992 NFL playoffs, Reich came off the bench to replace Jim Kelly against the Houston Oilers, bringing the Buffalo Bills back from a 35-3 deficit in the largest comeback in NFL history.

    But wait, there's more.

    In his first year as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts (a job the team originally thought it filled with Josh McDaniels), the team started 1-5—only to reel off nine wins over their last 10 games to become the third squad in league history to make the playoffs after a 1-5 start. The Colts even won a road playoff game over the rival Texans before Indy bowed out against the Chiefs.

    It's that ability to keep his team from falling apart that lands Reich just outside the top 10 after one year on the job.

10. Chicago Bears

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Matt Nagy (12-4)

    Offensive Coordinator: Mark Helfrich

    Defensive Coordinator: Chuck Pagano

    Deciding between Nagy and Frank Reich of the Colts here was essentially a toss-up. But Nagy had several things going for him.

    For starters, Nagy's Chicago Bears had a better regular season. Whereas Reich's Colts went 10-6 and needed a late surge to get into the postseason, it didn't take long to see that the Bears were the real deal—with a stifling defense and an innovative offense.

    Then there's his offensive scheme. After a season as offensive coordinator in Kansas City, Nagy brought his attack to Chicago, and it was an instant hit. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's play advanced by leaps and bounds, and the unconventional goal-line formations were a smash with fans.

    The loss of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was almost as big of a blow as Cody Parkey's double-doink, but the team did a good job of replacing him with another established coordinator in Chuck Pagano.

    These are heady days in the Windy City, and Nagy deserves quite a bit of the credit.

9. Los Angeles Chargers

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Anthony Lynn (21-12)

    Offensive Coordinator: Ken Whisenhunt

    Defensive Coordinator: Gus Bradley

    Anthony Lynn didn't exactly get off to the best start as head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, losing his first four games. However, since that stumble in 2017, Lynn's gone 21-7 in the regular season, including a 12-4 record in 2018. He also posted a playoff win last year.

    Also, while Lynn's still building his experience as a head coach, both of his coordinators have plenty. Ken Whisenhunt, who ran L.A.'s 11th-ranked offense last season, spent eight years as a head coach with the Cardinals and Titans. He even led the Redbirds to a Super Bowl XLIII berth.

    Gus Bradley was the coordinator for the Chargers' ninth-ranked defense in 2018. Bradley spent four seasons running the defense in Seattle before he got a head coaching job in Jacksonville, where he worked from 2013 to 2016.

    Combined, Lynn's top two assistants have a quarter-century of experience as either a coordinator or head coach.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (125-66-1)

    Offensive Coordinator: Randy Fichtner

    Defensive Coordinator: Keith Butler

    For most of Mike Tomlin's tenure as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team has been as consistently good as any in the AFC, aside from the Patriots. He's won over 65 percent of his regular-season games, made the playoffs eight times and won a Super Bowl.

    However, the Steelers missed the postseason last year with a 9-6-1 record—just the fourth time that Tomlin's Steelers have won fewer than 10 games. The locker room drama that began with Le'Veon Bell's holdout last year intensified over the offseason, culminating in the departures of both Bell and Antonio Brown. Tomlin's regular-season record is impressive, but he's just 8-7 in the postseason. And he ranked outside the top 10 overall at Head Coach Rankings in 2018.

    Still, given that the Steelers ranked inside the top six last year in both total offense and defense, it's not that difficult to imagine a rebound season—one that would help get Tomlin's staff headed back toward the league's top five.

7. Seattle Seahawks

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Pete Carroll (122-85-1)

    Offensive Coordinator: Brian Schottenheimer

    Defensive Coordinator: Ken Norton Jr.

    Pete Carroll's a member of an exclusive club. There are just three head coaches in history who have won both a collegiate national championship and a Super Bowl: Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson and Carroll.

    As a matter of fact, the Seattle Seahawks fell one play shy of winning back-to-back Super Bowls in 2013 and 2014. Of course, that one play was an ill-conceived pass that resulted in a game-losing interception, so…not Carroll's best moment.

    The Seahawks faced a lot of questions heading into 2018—the team missed the playoffs in 2017 and featured a pair of new coordinators in Brian Schottenheimer (offense) and Ken Norton Jr. (defense), neither of whom had experienced much success at their last stops.

    But Schottenheimer coordinated a run-heavy attack that led the league in rushing, Norton's defense allowed the 11th-fewest points per game in the league, and the Seahawks won 10 games and got back to the postseason.

6. Baltimore Ravens

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Head Coach: John Harbaugh (104-72)

    Offensive Coordinator: Greg Roman

    Defensive Coordinator: Don Martindale

    John Harbaugh's a perfect example of how quickly things change in the NFL. A year ago at this time, Harbaugh was on the hot seat with the Baltimore Ravens. But now, after his team won the AFC North in 2019, Harbaugh saw his contract extended and is on more solid ground.

    Over his career, Harbaugh's had considerable success in Baltimore—seven playoff trips in 11 seasons, a 10-6 record in the postseason and a Super Bowl win in 2012. He also graded out (per Head Coach Rankings) as the best head coach in the NFL at clock management in 2018.

    Last year's playoff run didn't prevent some changes on Harbaugh's staff. Former offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is out, replaced by veteran offensive coach Greg Roman, who worked with the tight ends last season.

    Don Martindale heads into his second season as defensive coordinator after six years of coaching the linebackers, further cementing the consistency and continuity that has marked Harbaugh's tenure.

5. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Doug Pederson (29-19)

    Offensive Coordinator: Mike Groh

    Defensive Coordinator: Jim Schwartz

    Doug Pederson hasn't been an NFL head coach for many seasons—just three. But it hasn't taken the 51-year-old long to make a sizable impression. In just his second year on the job, Pederson led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl LII win. Despite again losing starting quarterback Carson Wentz to injury in 2018, the Eagles got back to the postseason and knocked off the Bears in Chicago on Wild Card Weekend.

    Pederson is the driving force behind an Eagles offense that was middle-of-the-pack statistically in 2018, while Philly's 4-3 defense is the purview of Jim Schwartz, who has been coordinating NFL defenses since the dawn of the 21st century.

    Pederson didn't receive especially good marks in 2018 from Head Coach Rankings. In fact, he slotted outside the top half of the league in overall ranking, behind the likes of Jay Gruden and Mike Vrabel.

    But last we checked, those gentlemen don't have Super Bowl rings—at least as head coaches.

4. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Andy Reid (195-124-1)

    Offensive Coordinator: Eric Bieniemy

    Defensive Coordinator: Steve Spagnuolo

    Were these rankings just about regular-season success or offensive success, Andy Reid would rank higher. The Kansas City Chiefs finished the 2018 season first in the league in total offense and scoring offense, averaging 35.3 points per contest. It marked the 12th time in 20 seasons as a head coach that Reid oversaw a top-10 scoring unit.

    Kansas City won 12 games and the AFC West, and it was the 14th time that Reid-coached teams made the postseason. When 70 percent of the squads you coach make the playoffs, you're doing something right.

    However, Reid's 2018 Chiefs came up short of the Super Bowl (again), and Kansas City's defense was terrible—31st in total defense and 24th in scoring defense.

    That porous unit led to a switch in Reid's staff, with Steve Spagnuolo replacing Bob Sutton as coordinator.

    Getting that defense untracked is the key to another Super Bowl trip for Reid. And getting that first ring is the key to a climb up the list.

3. New Orleans Saints

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Sean Payton (118-74)

    Offensive Coordinator: Pete Carmichael

    Defensive Coordinator: Dennis Allen

    Some will argue that as high as this ranking is, Sean Payton's New Orleans Saints staff is still being low-balled. Payton's a Super Bowl-winning head coach who led the league's head men in both overall ranking and in-game adjustments last year, per Head Coach Rankings.

    The Saints won 13 games and were the NFC's top seed in the playoffs, and were it not for the blown call to end all blown calls against the Rams, Payton likely would have gotten to his second Super Bowl.

    But Payton's Saints are 8-6 in the postseason over 12 years, with just two playoff wins the past five seasons. And while the Saints are annually among the NFL's best offensive teams, Allen's tenure as defensive coordinator (both in New Orleans and elsewhere) has been up-and-down.

    That's enough to keep Payton behind the next young gun on this list, even if has a piece of gaudy jewelry that youngster doesn't yet.

2. Los Angeles Rams

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Sean McVay (24-8)

    Offensive Coordinator: Aaron Kromer/Shane Waldron

    Defensive Coordinator: Wade Phillips

    In 2017, Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams became both the youngest head coach in NFL history and the youngest man to ever be named Coach of the Year.

    In 2018, McVay managed to one-up that, becoming the youngest coach in Super Bowl history. That Super Bowl trip ended in disappointment, but there's no shame in losing the championship to Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

    It's happened to many before them.

    In two short seasons, McVay has established himself as one of the best head coaches and brightest young offensive minds in the game. Head Coach Ranking slotted McVay second in the league in 2018 in both total ranking and game-planning.

    The Rams don't have an offensive coordinator per se, with McVay calling the shots while Kromer (run game) and Waldron (pass game) each oversee one facet of the offense.

    The Rams most assuredly do have a defensive coordinator, though, with the venerable Wade Phillips entering his 25th season as a DC at the professional level.

1. New England Patriots

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Head Coach: Bill Belichick (261-123)

    Offensive Coordinator: Josh McDaniels

    Defensive Coordinator: Bill Belichick

    There was zero question which coaching staff would occupy the top spot after the New England Patriots held up yet another Lombardi Trophy last February as the champions of Super Bowl LIII.

    In 19 years as head coach of the Patriots, Belichick has established himself as not just the best coach in franchise history but also the best in the history of the NFL. Belichick owns the record for most Super Bowl wins (six), most Super Bowl appearances (nine) and most playoff wins (31). Belichick's .738 postseason winning percentage trails only Vince Lombardi (.900) among head coaches with 10 or more playoff games.

    The 2019 season will bring with it a new challenge, though, as the Pats try for an 11th straight division title. The sudden departure of Greg Schiano leaves the Patriots without a defensive coordinator, so Belichick will serve in that capacity as well.

    Like Belichick hasn't been the de facto DC for years, anyway.


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