Coaches Rankings...

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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Coaches rankings: Redskins stockpiling talent

Michael David Smith

1. Washington

The best staff Dan Snyder's money can buy, with the highest-paid head coach and the two highest-paid assistants. Al Saunders, hired away from the Chiefs this off-season, first worked with Joe Gibbs at Southern Cal in 1970. The two learned a similar offensive philosophy from Don Coryell when both were assistants to Coryell in San Diego. Saunders spent three mediocre seasons as head coach of the Chargers in the '80s, but since he was fired in '88, he has been one of the league's best assistants, especially in Kansas City, where he ran a Chiefs offense that has been one of the best in the league the last five years.

Saunders' title is associate head coach for offense, and the Redskins also have an assistant head coach for offense (Joe Bugel) and an offensive coordinator (Don Breaux). Saunders will have ultimate responsibility over the offense, but the other two are longtime Joe Gibbs assistants who will continue to play an important role in the offense: Bugel is one of the best offensive line coaches in football history, and Breaux is a former pro quarterback who played a major role in the development of Joe Theismann, Jay Schroeder, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien during Gibbs' first stint in Washington.

Gregg Williams, an old Buddy Ryan disciple, runs an aggressive but detail-oriented scheme that has given the Redskins one of the best defenses in the league the last two years.

2. Pittsburgh

Will Bill Cowher stay, or will he go? Pittsburgh fans are nervous that this could be Cowher's final season, but for right now, they have one of the game's elite head coaches. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has done a very good job developing the Steelers' 3-4 defense, but it's the offensive coaches who get most of the attention. Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, who played for Joe Gibbs for two years as a backup tight end in Washington, could be the next head coach if Cowher leaves. He obviously paid close attention; the offense he runs is a Gibbs-like system that can utilize the power running game and the deep pass with equal success.

Whisenhunt called running plays on 66 percent of first downs last year, the highest rate in the league, but that doesn't make him a conservative coach. He is one of the most innovative assistants in the league. Offensive line coach Russ Grimm is also likely to become a head coach soon. Mark Whipple was the head coach at the University of Massachusetts until Bill Cowher hired him as quarterbacks coach in 2004. Whipple and Ben Roethlisberger have been a perfect fit. No one demonstrates the Steelers' love for continuity more than running backs coach Dick Hoak, who has been an assistant in Pittsburgh since 1972 and played 10 years for the Steelers before that.

3. Denver

Mike Shanahan has had complete control of the Denver franchise for more than a decade now, and he does a great job of finding the right mix of young blood and established veterans. Defensive coordinator Larry Coyer is known more for his focus on the fundamentals than on designing creative blitz schemes, so he doesn't get the media attention he deserves.

Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and assistant head coach Mike Heimerdinger play an important role in developing the game plan, but the Denver offense is Shanahan's system. Running backs coach Bobby Turner has coached Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis and Reuben Droughns to 1,000-yard seasons.

4. Cincinnati

Marvin Lewis did a smart thing when he became head coach of the Bengals: He kept Bob Bratkowski, the offensive coordinator, on the staff. Bratkowski isn't fancy; he's just effective. No coordinator uses the traditional pro-style formation more often than Bratkowski, who used a fullback on 94 percent of the running plays he called last year, the most in the league. Bratkowski isn't the only assistant who provides stability in Cincinnati; offensive line coach Paul Alexander has been with the Bengals since 1994 and, running backs coach Jim Anderson has been with the team since '84.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has put together one of the best coaching staffs in the NFL. (Tom Pidgeon / Getty Images)

Wide receivers coach Hue Jackson has one of the hardest jobs in football, keeping Cincinnati's sometimes immature group of receivers in line. Although Chuck Bresnahan has the title of defensive coordinator, Lewis runs the defense. He has had success in every stop as a defensive assistant, although he's still struggling to put together the kind of big, effective line he had in Baltimore. Of course, his biggest struggle is off the field, where he can't seem to go more than a few weeks without having one of his players arrested.

5. Seattle

Mike Holmgren calls the shots, as Gil Haskell has had the title of offensive coordinator since 2000, but not the responsibilities. In power situations, the Seahawks do the wise thing and pound Shaun Alexander behind their impressive offensive line. They ran 83 percent of the time in power situations, more than any team in the league. (Power situations are third and fourth down, or goal line, with 1-2 yards to go.) Running backs coach Stump Mitchell was always known as a smart player and has done a very good job in Seattle, not just with Alexander but also with backup Maurice Morris and fullback Mack Strong.

Receivers coach Nolan Cromwell and tight ends coach Jim Lind both have worked for Holmgren every year since he became the Packers' head coach in 1992. The most important member of the staff in 2005 was linebackers coach John Marshall, who took over the coordinator's duties when Ray Rhodes suffered a stroke only a week before the season opener.

Marshall didn't only do a great job of coaching the rookie linebackers, Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill. He also turned the defense into a much more aggressive unit that went from 28th in the league in Adjusted Sack Rate (ASR represents sacks per pass play, adjusted for down, distance, and opponent) to sixth. This season, Marshall will have the title of defensive coordinator, while Rhodes is the defensive consultant.

6. San Diego

The knock on Marty Schottenheimer is that his teams don't get it done in the playoffs, but his brand of coaching has worked in four different places: Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington and now San Diego. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was a failure as a head coach in Buffalo, but he's had success on several stops as an assistant. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has spent nearly 20 years as an assistant coach, but he has worked for only three different head coaches: Bo Schembechler, Joe Gibbs and now Schottenheimer. Is it any wonder he loves the power running game?

New to the staff this year is quarterbacks coach John Ramsdell, a former Mike Martz and Dick Vermeil assistant in St. Louis. Whether Ramsdell can get Philip Rivers ready to play is one of the biggest training-camp questions in the NFL this year. The Chargers also brought in two new offensive line coaches this year, Jack Henry and Hal Hunter.

7. Indianapolis

The Tampa 2 defense has become ubiquitous thanks mostly to Tony Dungy, who installed the defense with the Bucs and first began developing it as an assistant to Chuck Noll in the 1980s. Dungy has turned the defensive line over to assistant coach John Teerlinck, who teaches his linemen to take out the quarterback from his legs. Several quarterbacks have labeled Teerlinck a dirty coach, and Paul Tagliabue once called him in for a private scolding, but his methods work.

The Colts have a good offense, but does the staff really deserve much credit for it? Peyton Manning calls the plays, and he and Marvin Harrison are famous for working out the game plan on their own during film study. Tom Moore's base offense is the three-receiver formation, and he rarely strays from it. The Colts used three receivers on 80 percent of plays last year, the most in the league. But they used four receivers on only three percent of plays, the fewest in the league.


8. New England

Bill Belichick is the best coach in football, but he's seen some serious staff turnover, losing three coordinators to head coaching jobs elsewhere over the last two years. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees is a 34-year coaching veteran, but for the most part, when assembling a coaching staff, Belichick cares more about talent than experience. That is why he made 30-year-old Josh McDaniels the league's youngest offensive play-caller. Assistant head coach for the offensive line Dante Scarnecchia is an excellent assistant who has helped turn previously unheralded players Matt Light, Logan Mankins and Dan Koppen into three of the best young linemen in the league.

The Patriots like to spread the field; although they were usually playing with a lead, the 2005 Patriots used three receivers 69 percent of the time and four receivers 20 percent of the time. They ranked among the top four teams in both categories.

9. Tampa Bay

Jon Gruden completely controls the Bucs' offense, but that hasn't stopped him from assembling a good staff. Quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett is one of the league's most experienced assistants; he's been coaching continuously since 1969. His son Nathaniel is the quality control coach. Assistant Jay Gruden, Jon's brother, is an Arena Football coach and quarterback. The Bucs used two tight ends on 62 percent of running plays, the highest in the league, which makes tight ends coach Ron Middleton a particularly important member of the staff.

Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has a sterling reputation and has turned down offers to become a head coach. The Bucs think so highly of linebackers coach Joe Barry that they wouldn't let him out of his contract to join Rod Marinelli's staff in Detroit — even though he's married to Marinelli's daughter.

10. Chicago

Head coach Lovie Smith has done a tremendous job both with the Xs and Os of running the Bears' defense and with keeping his team focused. He certainly doesn't deserve to be the lowest paid head coach in the NFL. But has he hired a good enough staff?

Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera seems to work well with Smith, but his scheme to combat Carolina receiver Steve Smith — or lack thereof — basically killed Chicago's season. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner runs a fairly conservative offense, although if Rex Grossman finally develops into a high-quality NFL starter, expect Turner to open things up with a few more three-receiver and four-receiver formations. If Grossman doesn't develop, quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, the longtime NFL backup, will likely be the scapegoat.

11. Carolina

John Fox isn't often named as one of the league's best coaches, but he should be. Carolina always looks like an organized, disciplined team. Defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac started as the team's defensive line coach and has played an important part in the development of Julius Peppers. (It's hard to believe now, but when Peppers was coming out of college, people said he didn't understand the fundamentals of defensive line play.)

Offensive coordinator Dan Henning and assistant head coach Jim Skipper love to use a fullback. The Panthers used the one-back set only 25 percent of the time, less than any other team. Henning played quarterback for Sid Gillman, the godfather of the passing game, and when the Panthers go into max-protection and throw it deep, as they so often do, you can close your eyes and imagine Gillman smiling. Skipper was head coach of the XFL's San Francisco Demons and an assistant to Jim Mora Sr. for 13 years, both with the Saints and the USFL's Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars.

12. Miami

Nick Saban runs the show, but he now has Dom Capers as his right-hand man. Capers' title is "special assistant to the head coach," which basically means, "coordinator but we can't call him coordinator because of his contract buyout with the Texans." Both Capers and Saban have more of a 3-4 background than a 4-3 background, but the Dolphins' personnel fits better into the 4-3, so Saban will use that as the base.

Capers was a failure as the head coach in Houston, but he has a well-earned reputation as a good defensive strategist. Former Bills head coach Mike Mularkey is now the Dolphins' offensive coordinator. Mularkey has always preferred drop-back passers over scrambling quarterbacks, which makes him an unlikely match for Daunte Culpepper — unless Culpepper's bad knee forces him to become more of a drop-back passer.

The Dolphins' quarterbacks coach, Jason Garrett, is also much more accustomed to the drop-back philosophy. Garrett spent 12 years as an NFL backup, and he was always a pocket passer rather than a scrambler. Offensive line coach Hudson Houck is one of the best in the business: He turned around the San Diego line in 2004, coached Super Bowl championship lines in Dallas and coached the line that helped Eric Dickerson break the all-time rushing record in Los Angeles.

13. Jacksonville

Head coach Jack Del Rio was a run-stuffing linebacker before he turned to coaching, so it's no surprise that he (along with the Jags' defensive coordinator, the tastefully named Mike Smith) has put together a defense that requires linebackers to think run first, pass second.

Jags head coach Jack Del Rio deserves more recognition as one of the top coaches in the league. (Doug Benc / Getty Images)

Offensive coordinator Carl Smith is a protégé of Jim Mora Sr., who was always known as a conservative play caller, but Smith uses a lot of shotgun snaps and likes to spread the field with multiple formations. Quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson, the longtime Bengals signal caller, has done a good job with Byron Leftwich, helping him become one of the league's best decision-makers. Former Vikings coach Mike Tice, a onetime teammate of Del Rio, is now the assistant head coach for offense.

14. New York Giants

Tom Coughlin has a reputation as a conservative coach, but he has handed over the offense to John Hufnagel, who loves to throw the long ball. Hufnagel was a quarterback for 12 years and a coach for eight more in the Canadian Football League, then spent two years coaching in Arena Football before becoming an NFL assistant. His style shows those roots: The long-ball approach he favors is common to the Canadian and Arena games. Giants quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride, another believer in the importance of long passes, spent two years coaching in Canada. The question is whether that approach is the right fit for Eli Manning, who still makes too many mistakes and might be better off in a more controlled offense.

Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis got most of his pass rush from the defensive ends last season, but he has a long history of calling linebacker blitzes as an assistant in Pittsburgh, and the acquisition of LaVar Arrington means he'll have the ability to do that again this year.

15. Tennessee

Jeff Fisher was a defensive player and coach before he became a head coach, and he has surrounded himself with a very good staff of defensive assistants. Coordinator Jim Schwartz is an innovative coach who has an economics degree from Georgetown and an analytical mind.

Chuck Cecil, who coaches the Titans' safeties, was a hard-hitting player who instills toughness in the team. Linebackers coach Dave McGinnis is the former head coach of the Cardinals. On offense, Norm Chow made a name for himself with a sophisticated passing offense at USC, but in the NFL, he needs to design some more power running plays.

The Titans ran on only 38 percent of power situations last season, the lowest percentage in the league. Perhaps assistant head coach Sherman Smith, who has been with the Titans since they were the Oilers, will have more of an influence on the game planning this year. Smith is a former running back who likes to pound the ball. Hall of Famer Mike Munchak is the offensive line coach.

16. Dallas

This team would rank higher if we were ranking head coaches, not coaching staffs. Bill Parcells' staff doesn't have anyone with the title of offensive coordinator because, when Sean Payton left to coach New Orleans, the Tuna decided to split up the offensive responsibilities among offensive line coach Tony Sparano, receivers coach Todd Haley and new quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer. Expect Parcells to make the bulk of the decisions with the offense. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has been in Dallas since 1994 and is the favorite to become the head coach when Parcells re-re-retires.


17. Philadelphia

Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was a terrible head coach in Detroit, but he understands the West Coast Offense that Andy Reid likes to run. The Eagles passed, passed and passed some more last season, and not just because they were often behind. Even when leading in the second half, the Eagles passed on 57 percent of plays, the highest percentage in the league.

Receivers coach David Culley was rumored to be the only member of the Philadelphia staff who could get along with Terrell Owens. Culley played for Bill Parcells when Parcells was an assistant at Vanderbilt in the 1970s, and Parcells has hinted that Culley put in a good word to the Tuna for T.O. On defense, coordinator Jim Johnson's blitz schemes drive opposing quarterbacks crazy — although, last year the pass defense mirrored the team's general decline. Special teams coach John Harbaugh is a good coach coming off a bad year.

18. Arizona

This is the year Dennis Green has to turn the Cardinals around. The team has a new stadium and its most talented roster in years, and now it's up to the coaches. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast loves to get his safeties involved in blitzing and run support, which makes him the perfect coach for Adrian Wilson, the NFL's most underrated player.

Offensive coordinator Keith Rowen likes to throw. The Cardinals lined up with four receivers on the field 27 percent of the time, the second-most often in the league, and they ran on only 34 percent of first-half plays, the lowest percentage in the league. New offensive line coach Steve Loney has a rough job ahead of him; the Cardinals' line was one of the worst in the league last year.

19. Cleveland

Head coach Romeo Crennel is trying to install the same kind of flexible 3-4 defense he ran as the coordinator in New England. Offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon has worked for Bill Parcells as both a Giants player and a Patriots and Jets assistant coach. Tight ends coach Ben Coates was a smart player and a good route runner, and he should help Kellen Winslow's development. Strength and conditioning coach John Lott became a minor celebrity when the NFL Network showed him running the bench press portion of the scouting combine. If a player can't get fired up to lift weights in Cleveland, he's not cut out for pro football.

20. Detroit

Rod Marinelli promised to bring toughness to a team that always seems to fall short of expectations. Marinelli, the defensive line coach in Tampa Bay for the last 10 years, will implement the Tampa 2 defense. And defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson is a no-nonsense guy who will demand better tackling from a team that hasn't done enough to stress the fundamentals in recent years.

But the big questions in Detroit are all about the offense. The Lions spent top 10 picks in four straight drafts on a quarterback and three receivers and still have one of the league's worst passing games. Marinelli said at his introductory news conference that his most important decision would be hiring an offensive coordinator, and he hired a good one in Mike Martz.

Hiring Martz was a major coup, as most people believe he's the best offensive mind in football. Of course, we don't know if he is truly the best until he proves it by succeeding with a new offense, one that starts without Torry Holt, Issac Bruce, Marshall Faulk and Orlando Pace.

Aside from Martz, the most important member of the offensive coaching staff will be receivers coach Kippy Brown. The former head coach of the XFL's Memphis Maniax, Brown has the difficult job of finally getting the Lions' trio of highly drafted wide receivers to play up to their potential. If he can do that, Brown deserves to become a head coach again — and not in a second-rate league where every team nickname is required to contain a superfluous "x."

Last year, the Rams used the four-receiver formation 28 percent of the time, more often than any other team. Do the Lions have four receivers good enough to deserve playing time?

21. New York Jets

Eric Mangini made headlines when he became the youngest head coach in the NFL. Mangini and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton have a big job ahead of them, transforming the Jets' defense into a 3-4 even though most of the players were acquired with a 4-3 defense in mind.

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is known as a disciple of his father, Marty, but don't forget where he played college ball. Schottenheimer was a backup quarterback at Florida, where he learned from Steve Spurrier, and he is expected to run a system that, like Spurrier's, changes more from week to week than most NFL offenses do. The system will require a smart quarterback who can adjust to such alternating game plans, which means if rookie Kellen Clemens wins the job at some point this season, he'll need to be a fast learner.

Offensive line coach Tony Wise was one of Jimmy Johnson's first hires in Dallas and helped shape the great Cowboys line of the 1990s. He should be a great fit for a team that drafted two offensive linemen in the first round this year.

22. Houston

Former Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is the new head coach. Kubiak was John Elway's backup for nine years, and after retiring as a player, he became an assistant in Denver. His experience as a player and a coach help him understand how quarterbacks develop. His job is to get quarterback David Carr playing at the level the Texans expected of him when he was the first pick in the 2002 draft.

Kubiak hired his fellow Denver assistant, Troy Calhoun, as offensive coordinator. He also hired Mike Shanahan's 26-year-old son, Kyle, as wide receivers coach. Defensive coordinator Richard Smith and defensive line coach Bob Karmelowicz have spent a lot of time in training camp trying to organize the line in a way that capitalizes on Mario Williams' considerable talents.

23. Buffalo

Does Dick Jauron deserve another shot as a head coach? Marv Levy obviously thought so, but it's hard to understand why. He had one very good year as head coach of the Bears in 2001, but aside from that, his coaching career has been marked by failure. Offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild is a Mike Martz disciple who spent the last three years as an assistant in St. Louis. Ordinarily that would mean the Bills should have a high-octane offense, but Buffalo simply doesn't have a quarterback who's up to the task.

If quarterbacks coach Turk Schonert can help J.P. Losman develop into a functioning NFL quarterback, he deserves to be a head coach somewhere because Losman has looked terrible so far in his brief career. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell spent last season as an assistant to Lovie Smith, so expect the Bills to be yet another team incorporating parts of the Tampa 2 defense.

24. Baltimore

Offensive coordinator Jim Fassel and quarterbacks coach Rick Neuheisel both have good reputations, as does head coach Brian Billick. But no one on the Ravens' coaching staff has been able to make the offense work. If they can't turn it around this year with Steve McNair on board, it's time to overhaul the entire coaching staff. Coordinator Rex Ryan's defense requires an athletic middle linebacker who can move all over the field. That applies less and less to Ray Lewis with each passing year.


25. Minnesota

The Vikings replaced Mike Tice with Brad Childress both because of the West Coast Offense Childress ran in Philadelphia and because of the discipline he promised to bring to a team that was embarrassed when four of its players were alleged to be involved in indecent conduct after an infamous boat party. Brad Johnson played well for Minnesota last year, and Johnson's skills are well-suited to the short passing game that Childress favors.

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, formerly the Packers' quarterbacks coach, has a history with Childress that goes back to the University of Wisconsin in the early 1990s, when Bevell was the Badgers' quarterback and Childress was the offensive coordinator. Line coach Pat Morris is a longtime Steve Mariucci assistant who never could get the Lions' line straightened out. The team hired former Tampa Bay defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin as defensive coordinator, and he will use the same Cover-2 defense that Minnesota's NFC North rivals in Chicago and Detroit use.

26. New Orleans

In new head coach Sean Payton, the Saints have a bright offensive mind who worked under Bill Parcells in Dallas for the last three years. Payton is known as a good tutor for quarterbacks, and the Saints' new quarterback, Drew Brees, is known as a good student. Payton made a surprise decision when he tabbed Doug Marrone, formerly the Jets' line coach, as the offensive coordinator.

Marrone has a reputation for liking an offense that revolves around the straight-ahead running game, while Payton prefers the vertical passing game. Running backs coach George Henshaw will need to find the right way to utilize the skills of both Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister. Defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs, the onetime head coach at Oklahoma, was also on Parcells' staff in Dallas, so he and Payton know they can work together.

27. Atlanta

Head coach Jim Mora and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp seem intent on forcing Mike Vick to run the West Coast Offense, a style of play that doesn't suit his blazing speed and strong arm. Mora added a former Bill Walsh quarterback, Bill Musgrave, to the offensive staff this year. As long as this staff tries to fit the square peg of Mike Vick into the round hole of the West Coast Offense, the Falcons will be in trouble.

The Falcons' staff does have a very good line consultant in Alex Gibbs, who coached the Denver Broncos' offensive line from 1995 to 2003. Perhaps because Vick's passing was sub-par, the Falcons ran on 51 percent of first-half plays last year, the highest percentage in the league. Let's hope the Falcons' defense can play well enough that defensive coordinator Ed Donatell's career isn't defined by one fourth-and-26 that went awry three years ago when Donatell coordinated the Packers' defense.

28. Kansas City

New head coach Herm Edwards is coming off a 4-12 season, and it's baffling that the Chiefs were willing to give up a fourth-round draft pick to acquire him. Losing coordinator Al Saunders hurts the Chiefs, but Edwards plans to run the same style of offense, keeping the longtime Chiefs assistant Mike Solari around and promoting him to offensive coordinator.

Offensive line coach John Matsko's job got a lot more difficult when Willie Roaf retired. Quarterbacks coach Terry Shea, who spent a year as an assistant in the Canadian Football League, loves the wide-open passing game. Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham, the one-time Chiefs head coach, likes his linebackers to rush the passer and his defensive backs to play close to the line of scrimmage; but the Chiefs don't appear to have the talent to pull off that kind of scheme without giving up a lot of big plays.

29. San Francisco

Head coach Mike Nolan likes to run. Even when they were behind in the second half last year, the 49ers ran 38 percent of the time, the highest rate in the league. That could make him conflict with offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who likes to pass on first downs. Last year, with Turner calling the plays, the Raiders passed on 58 percent of first downs, the second-most in the league. So which will win out, Turner's desire to pass or Nolan's desire to run?

If Alex Smith plays this year like he did last year, the 49ers will feel that they have no choice but to run. Billy Davis is in his first year as a coordinator, but he has spent several seasons as a linebackers coach on 3-4 teams and should mesh well with Nolan's plans for the defense. Mike Singletary's job in this organization is to be Mike Singletary.

30. Oakland

Art Shell was a good coach during his first stint with the Raiders, and Al Davis shouldn't have fired him. But he's been away from coaching for a while now, and the staff he has hired doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

Offensive coordinator Tom Walsh has been out of coaching since 1994, when he was an assistant during Shell's first tenure as the Raiders' coach. It would be one thing to hire Bill Walsh after a decade out of football, but Tom (no relation) was never regarded as a great coach in the first place; and everyone was shocked that Shell gave him a coordinator position.

Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff is the receivers coach, and he'll have a particularly difficult job this year. Randy Moss doesn't make life easy for his coaches, and Jerry Porter has made it known that he's unhappy in Oakland. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, son of Buddy, emphasizes the pass rush above all else, which means defensive end Derrick Burgess should have another season with plenty of sacks and plenty of missed tackles on running plays.

31. St. Louis

New Rams head coach Scott Linehan uses an offensive philosophy similar to that of his predecessor, Mike Martz. Both love long passes, and neither is afraid to take risks. But Linehan hasn't shown Martz's flair for calling exactly the right play to stick a dagger in the opposing defense.

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson ran an incredibly conservative offense the last two years in Detroit, often calling for short passes — even on third-and-long, so he seems like a bad fit with Linehan. Aside from Olson, Linehan has put together a relatively inexperienced offensive staff; quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier, running backs coach Wayne Moses, offensive special assistant Jeff Horton and assistant offensive line coach Jim Chaney are all in their first NFL coaching jobs.

Wide receivers coach Henry Ellard is the only holdover from Mike Martz's offensive staff. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has had success as an assistant in the past, but his defenses in New Orleans rarely played well.

32. Green Bay

Mike McCarthy, previously the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, replaces fired coach Mike Sherman. He's a curious choice, to say the least, given that our Football Outsiders stats show that the 49ers had not just the worst offense in the league last year but one of the worst offenses the league has ever seen.

The biggest misconception about McCarthy is that his background is in the same West Coast Offense that the Packers have run throughout the career of quarterback Brett Favre. In reality, McCarthy got his start in the NFL as an assistant to Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City, where he coached a conservative, run-first offense. Before that, McCarthy was an assistant to Paul Hackett (the former Jets offensive coordinator who was often criticized for conservative play-calling) at the University of Pittsburgh. McCarthy did spend one year as Favre's quarterbacks coach. That isn't necessarily a good thing for Packers fans, though. The year McCarthy spent in Green Bay was 1999, when the talented Packers finished a disappointing 8-8 and Favre had one of his worst seasons with 23 interceptions and a career-low 57.3 completion percentage.

The NFC North's defensive linemen won't like new offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski. Jagodzinski was the offensive line coach in Atlanta last season, working alongside offensive line consultant Alex Gibbs, the man who developed the zone-blocking schemes that the Denver Broncos used to win two Super Bowls.

Many defensive linemen have said Gibbs teaches dirty play, but the Gibbs system is spreading across the league because it works. Quarterbacks coach Tom Clements spent 12 seasons as a quarterback in the Canadian Football League, and he still favors that type of wide-open style. That might not make him a great fit for Brett Favre, who needs someone to rein him in. Instead of completely overhauling the coaching staff, McCarthy decided to keep Bob Sanders and promote him from defensive ends coach to defensive coordinator.

Sanders, a Steve Spurrier confidant who served as a defensive coordinator for Spurrier both at Duke and at Florida, believes in a defense that gets most of its pass rush from the line instead of from blitzing linebackers. That makes him a good fit for a team that has Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Aaron Kampman in place.
New England is making the best coaching staff in football look stupid.

Shell has looked really good so far.

Is this all pre-season? Sure.
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