RF365’s head coach power rankings: Offseason 2008
With most major free-agent deals inked, the NFL draft in the can, and with all 32 seats filled (we’ll assume Lane Kiffin is still head coach on Opening Day in Oakland), RealFootball365.com today releases the first head coach power rankings of the season.
The positions are based on each coach’s recent performance, draft doings, reputation and player rapport. Rookie coaches tend to start at the bottom of the list, but a few guys are entering 2008 at below ground zero and thus place below the newbies.
Presenting the poll! (Regular season-ending ranking in parentheses.)
1. (10) Tom Coughlin, New York Giants. Last season was a campaign for the history books for Coughlin. After undergoing a little sensitivity training and/or Vulcan mind therapy in the offseason, Coughlin called swell games all year up to and especially the Pyrrhic loss to the Patriots in Week 17.
2. (2) Tony Dungy, Indianapolis Colts. Anyone notice the Colts went 13-3 in 2007, the team’s sixth consecutive double-digit-win season?
3. (4) Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers. Over the past two seasons, McCarthy has quietly built a team in his image; with no question about the QB position, his team could go far indeed.
4. (3) Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers. A high ceiling of expectation has been set for Mr. T, and after his excellent rookie campaign, why not?
5. (5) Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars. Del Rio was given the authority to go all-in during the draft this year and manipulated his way into a monster defensive set of Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves. If this pays off, the Jags have a ridiculous ‘D’ and Del Rio’s called a genius.
6. (1) Bill Belichick, New England Patriots. Chants of “cheaters” on draft weekend; the greatest column in the world, TMQ, calling for Belichick’s suspension; the Pats odds-on favorites to take the Super Bowl at 7/2. In short, no respect for “Belicheat.” It’s like last season never happened.
7. (8) Jon Gruden, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gruden’s had some say over his team for some time. He’s made his bed and now must lie in it; his back’s against the wall; it’s all or nothing for Tampa Bay in 2008; insert your favorite pressure cliché here.
8. (7) Mike Holmgren, Seattle Seahawks. Decent team, conservative offseason including the probably prudent waiving of Shaun Alexander, no major changes to his coaching staff ... way early on, it sounds like Holmgren has his guys rolling over the NFC West and perhaps into the NFC championship again, doesn’t it? (Despite going, say, 3-5 on the road, that is.)
9. (6) Wade Phillips, Dallas Cowboys. Surely Jerry Jones’ line goes something like this: “You’re not paid to think, Phillips, you’re paid to coach. Now, Pacman, meet Wade. Wade, this is Pacman."
T10. (T13) Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings. This is next year for the Vikings.
T10. (T13) Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans. Ditto.
12. (22) Herm Edwards, Kansas City Chiefs. After a monster draft featuring Glenn Dorsey and 11 others, most of whom appear to be actual real additions, Edwards has charted the Chiefs’ course for years. We’ll see about chosen helmsman Brodie Croyle.
13. (11) Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans. Interesting sawed-off shotgun approach to the draft: Seven picks, each at a different position, including the intriguing tandem of California’s WR Lavelle Hawkins and TE Craig Stevens. In potentially supplying a lot of much-needed assistance, Fisher may yet see the Super Bowl with his No. 10.
14. (16) Mike Shanahan, Denver Broncos. Losing popular and key players Javon Walker, Ian Gold and Jason Elam came at the cost of some in-team grumbling; Shanahan did a good job in the draft, though, picking up a lot of size on both sides in Ryan Clady (6-foot-6, 320 pounds), OT Kory Lichtensteiger (6-3, 310), and DT Carlton Powell (6-3, 300). "We have a better team, no question about it," proclaimed Shanahan in the post-draft glow.
15. (19) Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints. Positive or no, 2008 will determine how much of a fluke Peyton and the Saints’ 2006 was. After the brutal 0-4 start, the Saints looked good much of the rest of the way, albeit against marginal competition; New Orleans was just 2-4 against playoff teams.
16. (12) Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers. Nope, still not believing it, even with a reasonable draft performance.
17. (20) Romeo Crennel, Cleveland Browns. Solid roster, decent draft, two high-potential quarterbacks, the momentum of a 10-6 season. Crennel can’t lose, right? Um, right?
18. (T17) Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles. A benefit-of-doubt placement after his family’s personal problems reportedly carried over into the offseason. And on the field, Reid’s loyalty to Donovan McNabb may yet kill him professionally.
19. (25) Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals. One wonders how long Whisenhunt will survive in Glendale with a .500 season on his resume. Too bad he’s not in a certain other frustrating football city.
20. (29) Rod Marinelli, Detroit Lions. The good news: The Lions drafted rationally. The bad news: Most pundits don’t think much of the assembled talent. But Marinelli has GM Matt Millen’s full confidence; that’s good, right? Right? Anybody...?
21. (23) Dick Jauron, Buffalo Bills. What’s the over/under on Jauron’s on-camera meltdown and/or firing this season? The easy money: Just after the Week 10 loss at New England, putting Buffalo at 2-7 for the season and that much closer to Toronto.
22. (24) Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals. For his future employment’s sake, Lewis better hope his formula of “Bengals minus defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan plus Keith Rivers” works, because he may need results now.
23. (28) Scott Linehan, St. Louis Rams. Linehan only gets this high on the assumption that his tiffs with his marquee players have been forgotten and forgiven over the long offseason.
24. (T17) Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears. So Lovie & Co. give Rex Grossman a new contract but opt to alienate Brian Urlacher. Interesting strategy.
25. (15) Lane Kiffin, Oakland Raiders. Still no public vote of confidence from Al Davis, still no answer for the resignation-letter rumors, the possibility that the Darren McFadden drafting was against his will ... poor Kiffin: He seems like a decent coach. Prediction: Raider Nation is going to lament the day Kiffin is forcibly ousted; figure that to come after the 2009 season after Oakland sneaks into the playoffs at 9-7.
26. (n/a) Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins. Hey, he may have a 1-15 team, no quarterback and no Jason Taylor, but he’s got Bill Parcells in his corner. And Parcells still has a few neurons firing. We think.
27. (n/a) Jim Zorn, Washington. Whoa, .
28. (n/a) Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons. What are the odds that they’ll ever remember the Mike Smith Era in Atlanta?
29. (21) Eric Mangini, New York Jets. Player dissension, contracts reworked randomly, draft choices taken personally ... can we drop the “ManGenius” thing yet?
30. (26) John Fox, Carolina Panthers. Most NFL observers have been trying to figure out the mystery of the Panthers since late 2005; fingers are starting to point in Mr. Fox’s direction.
31. (30) Mike Nolan, San Francisco 49ers. This year’s archetypal Coach On The Hot Seat has indeed earned that distinction, going 16-32 in his three years as head coach. Gee, the 49ers sure could’ve used that first-round draft pick for 2008...
32. (n/a) John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens. After the team-wide throwdown at minicamp, it’s nowhere to go but up for Harbaugh. Unless detoured by a trip to the morgue, of course.