10 NFL Coordinators Who Are Ready For A Team Of Their Own

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Josh McDaniels-Offensive Coordinator-New England Patriots


The natural evolution from football flunky to head coach of an NFL team often takes a familiar path. Hopeful students of the game spend years climbing the sideline ladder, moving from position to position, hoping to earn the respect of the league, and a shot at leading a team of their own.

Often we see the coordinator position being the last stop before future head coaches reach the top of the mountain. In all actuality, being the offensive, or defensive, coordinator of a team is like presenting a resume to the NFL on a weekly basis. Most head coaches rely on their coordinators to design the plays and implement a plan that ends up defining a team.

An offensive genius is a top commodity in the NFL, and teams are willing to take risks to find the next superstar coach. Just look at the Denver Broncos in 2009. After releasing two time Super Bowl winning coach Mike Shanahan, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen went out and enlisted the mind behind the New England Patriotsoffense, Josh McDaniels.

McDaniels turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes in Broncos history, but regardless of the result, a message was sent when he was hired. When Bowlen hired McDaniels he became the youngest head coach in NFL history, which was, without a doubt, the direct result of having his brilliance put on display with every Patriot win.

Lovie Smith, Rex Ryan, Marvin Lewis, and Chuck Pagano are just a few of the current NFL head coaches who were top defensive coordinators in the league before being offered a team of their own.

The following offensive and defensive coordinators are at the top of the list for any NFL owner or GM looking for a new captain to right their ship. Take a look at the list and see who on the list you know, and who you need to know. A special thanks goes out to Christopher Batchelder (@Coachcbatch), whose input was crucial to the development of this list.

One last thing before you begin, it should be noted that Wade Phillips was left off of this list. This was not because Phillips is not worthy, but rather because of the home he has found for himself as the defensive coordinator of the Houston Texans. He has excelled in this position, and seems to be very happy where he is. Having already been the head coach of several NFL teams, it is doubtful the defensive guru will be leaving Texas anytime soon, especially if he can guide his defense to the Super Bowl.

Now with no further ado, click the next and let the list begin...

Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.

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Rick Dennison-Offensive Coordinator-Houston Texans


Our list starts with Rick Dennison, who is currently in his third year as the offensive coordinator of the Houston Texans. Dennison followed in the footsteps of his head coach Gary Kubiak, starting as a player for the Denver Broncos, ascending to the offensive coordinator in Denver, and then signing on with Houston. The only thing Kubiak has accomplished that Dennison has yet to do is take control of the whole show, and with the Texans offense looking nearly unstoppable, it won’t be long before someone gives him a chance.

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Mike Sullivan-Offensive Coordinator-Tampa Bay Buccaneers


A newcomer to the coordinating tree is Mike Sullivan, first year man for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs were 27th in the NFL in points scored last season, averaging just 17.9 per contest. Within Sullivan’s system Tampa Bay is now third in scoring, averaging 28.9 points per. That kind of turnaround is exactly what interested GM’s are looking for.

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Kevin Coyle-Defensive Coordinator-Miami Dolphins

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The Miami Dolphins have been one of the more interesting stories of the NFL season, thanks in large part to defensive coordinator, Kevin Coyle. Coyle has done well this season with a less then stellar group of players on the field. The most talented members of the Miami D are within the front seven, and with his guidance this group has been in the top ten in run defense and points allowed.

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Mike Zimmer-Defensive Coordinator-Cincinnati Bengals

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Mike Zimmer has been a defensive coordinator in the NFL for the last 12 years. For the last 5 years, he has been the man behind a consistent Cincinnati Bengals defense. When it comes to shortlists for coaching spots, Zimmer’s name is sure to be near the top.

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Jack Del Rio-Defensive Coordinator-Denver Broncos

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The Denver Broncos defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, has been an NFL head coach in past, spending 9 years leading the Jacksonville Jaguars. His time with the Jags came to an end during the 2011 season, but Del Rio has shown his skill once again, working the Broncos defense into the 6th best in the league.

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Kyle Shanahan-Offensive Coordinator-Washington Redskins


Mike Shanahan has proven himself as an offensive mastermind during his career in the NFL, and when it comes to his son, Kyle Shanahan, it is clear that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. Kyle has been an offensive coordinator since the 2006-07 season, first with Houston, and now for the Washington Redskins. With the family pedigree, and the success of his offense, the younger Shanahan will be called upon, sooner than later.

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Casey Gus Bradley-Defensive Coordinator-Seattle Seahawks

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Another coordinator turning heads is Gus Bradley, whose real name is Casey, but goes by his childhood nickname, Gus. The rumor circulating from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is that the linebackers were not going to listen to a guy named “Casey” which is a story Bradley laughingly denies. Whatever name you call him, he is still the man responsible for a Seattle Seahawks defense that ranks fourth in points allowed (16.1), passing yards (196.2), and total yards (296.8). His team is just outside of the top 10 in run defense, as well. Numbers like these are sure to make Bradley one of the most coveted candidates available

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Mike Nolan-Defensive Coordinator-Atlanta Falcons

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Mike Nolan is another coordinator that has previously been a head coach in the NFL, spending three seasons as the top man of the San Francisco 49ers. During his time there, he proved to be a class act, and the success of his defenses since make him a prime target for any team looking for a strong leader that can get them to where they are trying to go. His bend but don’t break style currently has the Atlanta Falcons just 6th among the league in points allowed. His experience and poise are sure to land him another shot at controlling his own team.

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Mike McCoy-Offensive Coordinator-Denver Broncos

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Del Rio is not the only talent in Denver that is a top candidate for a lead position; offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is a hot name as well. In 2011, McCoy was given the challenge of designing an offense that could win with Tim Tebow under center. This season he has the exact opposite with Peyton Manning as his on field leader. Between the magic of Tebow’s unlikely run, and the success of Peyton’s return to the NFL, McCoy will likely have a new home at season’s end.

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Bruce Arians-Offensive Coordinator-Indianapolis Colts

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When it comes to coordinators who are ready to lead their own teams, one has to look no further than the Indianapolis Colts. After Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with Lukemia, he handed his everyday responsibilities over to his offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians. With “Chuck-Strong” as their battle cry, the Colts have far surpassed expectations, rebounding from a 2-14 effort last season, to the surprising 6-3 record they currently boast. With rookie quarterback Andrew Luck at the helm, Arians has stepped up to the challenge, and has his team in position to contend for a playoff spot, and when looking at resumes, none can be more impressive than that.