NFL Power Rankings: Top 15 Coaches Through Week 6
"Chuckstrong" is helping to carry the Colts along.
After six weeks of the 2012 NFL season, teams are starting to separate themselves from the pack, and so are some of the head coaches.
Some of the best coaching going on in the league right now isn't necessarily coming from teams with winning record. Although, if you are a head coach in the AFC, the chances are only 2 in 16 that you even have a winning record.
Some coaches are leading teams to the top of their divisions as expected, and they haven't really had to do much other than let their players run the games as planned. Other coaches have their teams in quite surprising places in the standings.
One thing is certain, you can't underestimate the importance of a good head coach in the NFL, as being demonstrated by the 1-4 New Orleans Saints right now. Even with all the stars and talent on that roster, without head coach Sean Payton, the Saints are a team in disarray.
Earlier in the season we looked at some of that could be on the hot seat, and not surprisingly enough, some of those same coaches happened to appear on this list.
So after six weeks, where are the best coaching jobs going on right now? We'll rank them 1-15 here. Have a different opinion or think there is a coach missing from the list (or one that shouldn't be on there), be sure to comment down at the bottom of the page.
15. Greg Schiano - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Schiano may only have Tampa Bay at 2-3, but you can already see a huge difference in the attitude of this team. They are playing physical ball, being competitive, and finishing the drill (just ask Tom Coughlin). Schiano has that infectious enthusiasm that comes with a college coach. How long it lasts remains to be seen.
14. John Harbaugh - Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are one of only two teams in the AFC with a winning record, but even at 5-1, Baltimore looks mortal. Even before the season-ending injuries to Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb, the Ravens defense didn't look like what most would consider to be a Ravens defense. They allowed over 200 yards of rushing in two consecutive games, and just didn't seem to be playing with their typical swagger. With a few defensive stars gone, and QB Joe Flacco having a typically up and down season, we should get a good idea of just how good John Harbaugh is in the coming weeks.
13. John Fox - Denver Broncos
If you are a head coach and you have Peyton Manning as your quarterback, you had better be in the top 15 coaches in the league. Fox has done a great job of trying to completely change the Broncos offensive philosophy now that they have a quarterback that can actually throw the ball. The Broncos are becoming synonymous with 4th quarter comebacks this season, and as each week passes, they look better and better. Watch out for this team in the last few weeks of the season.
12. Gary Kubiak - Houston Texans
Kubiak has the Texans pretty much were most people assumed they would be, leading their division and looking strong on both sides of the ball. Still, the true strength of this team is their defense, and most of that credit goes to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The Texans epic flop on Monday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers left some scratching their heads. As Houston's schedule gets more difficult, the true measure of Kubiak's coaching will be seen more clearly.
11. Ken Whisenhunt - Arizona Cardinals
Arizona started off the season 4-0...with John Skelton and Kevin Kolb as their two quarterbacks rotating in and out of injury. That fact alone is enough to land Whisenhunt on this list. The Cardinals are playing tough defense, but their lack of depth at running back and continued problems at offensive line are going to present a lot of coaching challenges for Whisenhunt. As tough as the NFC West is this season, exceptional coaching may be the only thing that can help get Arizona into the playoffs.
10. Jeff Fisher - St. Louis Rams
Jeff Fisher, his starter mullet, and his hall of fame moustache, have the Rams playing like contenders this season. Fisher has brought his tough defensive philosophy to St. Louis, and the Rams are buying into it in a hurry. He's got QB Sam Bradford playing like the number one overall pick that St. Louis was looking for when they drafted him, and the Rams have already won more games this season than they did in all of 2011.
9. Joe Philbin - Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins were a team that most picked to drop back into the FCS just so they could win more than two games this season. With a rookie quarterback - Ryan Tannehill - that most considered to be a project, and with very little surrounding the rookie other than Reggie Bush, expectations were quite low in Miami. So far the Dolphins are 3-3 and head coach Joe Philbin is not only making his mark in Miami, but his absence from his old post as offensive coordinator in Green Bay is just as noticeable. The Dolphins may look to surprise a lot of teams this season.
8. Leslie Frazier - Minnesota Vikings
Frazier has the Vikings being competitive in the ultra-tough NFC North again, and it's obvious he's having some great influence on second year QB Christian Ponder. The Vikings have made great strides on both offense and defense this season, and you can see a lot of belief in Frazier and his game plans coming from the players. Of course, it never hurts to have a freak of nature like Adrian Peterson on your roster, but knowing how to use a guy like him is all a part of being a good coach.
7. Lovie Smith - Chicago Bears
It always seems like the more detractors Lovie Smith has, the better his teams start to play. Perhaps the good people of Chicago should start calling for Smith's head every season. The defense looks as good as any Chicago defense we've seen in years, and the Bears may have finally taken that next step on the offensive side of the ball. Not to mention, you have to put any coach who can handle Jay Cutler in the Top-10.
6. Pete Carroll - Seattle Seahawks
Pete Carroll is just doing what Pete Carroll does. Walking into what many think is an unwinnable situation, taking all the negativity and spinning it into gold. The Seahawks boast one of the best defenses in the league, and have a rookie quarterback who is already playing like a seasoned pro. Much of this comes from Carroll's influence and his what can look like childlike enthusiasm at times.
5. Mike McCarthy - Green Bay Packers
Yes, the Packers are only 3-3 (or, is it 4-2), but McCarthy will not give up on this team and they certainly don't look like they are quitting on him. The Packers have been dealt some pretty cruel blows already this season, but have showed a lot of tenacity and toughness in the process. The Packers look like they've gotten back on track offensively, and McCarthy knows how to use the various weapons he has. Top notch job of coaching going on in Green Bay.
4. Jim Harbaugh - San Francisco 49ers
Jim Harbaugh isn't near the top of this list because the 49ers look impervious. He's near the top of this list because he never gives up and he never allows his team to give up either. San Francisco has the top defense in the league, and a healthy (although aged) Frank Gore. If Harbaugh can continue to bring QB Alex Smith along as he did in 2011, the 49ers are only going to get better. Don't let the drubbing suffered at the hands of the Giants fool you. This is a solid, well coached team.
3. Chuck Pagano/Bruce Arians - Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are in a "rebuilding year", or so they say. With new faces all over the roster, and a rookie quarterback at the helm, nobody gave first year coach Chuck Pagano much of a chance to have a lot of success in Indianapolis this season. And then came the terrible news that Pagano was suffering from a treatable form of leukemia, and would probably be lost for most of the season. So what did the Colts do? Just went out and had an emotional and stirring comeback win against the Packers. Bruce Arians is acting as interim coach in Pagano's absence, and he's got a tough job indeed. But if you are in the personnel situation that the Colts are in, and then your head coach is lost to serious illness, there is absolutely no shame in 2-3
2. Tom Coughlin - New York Giants
How it is that anyone ever questions whether or not Tom Coughlin is one of the top coaches in the NFL year in and year out is beyond me. Coughlin is an old school no-nonsense coach who places the blame squarely on his own shoulders when appropriate, and isn't afraid to lay down the law to ANY of his players. The Giants have stumbled a couple of time this season, but still look like one of the toughest teams in the league. The one unmistakable trait this team has is that if a man goes down with injury, someone else just seems to get plugged in and perform. That is simply a result of quality coaching.
1. Mike Smith - Atlanta Falcons
If anyone said that the Atlanta Falcons would be sitting at 6-0 and have the best record in the NFL after six weeks, they would have been subjected to a strip search and drug dogs. Mike Smith has his team believing in themselves, and has them winning the types of games that the Falcons used to just give up on themselves in past years. His is one of the only true mixes of a disciplinarian tempered with the personality of a player's coach that you'll see. Being surrounded by upgrades at the two coordinator positions has also done a lot to make him look good, but the unparalleled success he's had in Atlanta can't be denied.