Who has the NFL's best coaching staff?
According to the unscientific rankings of The Sporting News' "RealScouts" and Packer Report's unscientific compilation formula, the Pittsburgh Steelers have the best combination of head coach and coordinators.
Earlier this month, RealScouts ranked the NFL's 32 head coaches and the top 20 offensive and defensive coordinators. Packer Report assigned two points for each spot in the rankings for the head coach and one point for each spot in the rankings for the coordinators. All coordinators not ranked in Real Scouts' top 20 were assigned a ranking of 21st for the Packer Report standings.
With that formula, Pittsburgh's coaches came out on top, boasting the fifth-ranked head coach (10 points), 11th-ranked offensive coordinator and top-ranked defensive coordinator, for a total of 22 points.
Philadelphia checked in second (23 points), followed by the New York Giants (29), New England (31) and Tennessee (34).
How about the Packers? Thanks in large part to the addition of Dom Capers, the Packers' coaches rank 12th with 53 points.
Mike McCarthy ranked 16th among head coaches, Joe Philbin 16th among offensive coordinators and Capers fifth among defensive coordinators.
Of McCarthy, RealScouts said: "He has the necessary belief in his team to make bold changes and make them pay off. Last year, he dumped Brett Favre for Aaron Rodgers. This season, he moves his defense to a 3-4 scheme. He always is looking for ways to make the team better."
Of Philbin: "Philbin uses a lot of multiple formations and has been fighting for more balance in the offense. Though conservative with in QB Aaron Rodgers' first season as a starter, Philbin will open up things in '09, working play-action passes off zone runs. As Rodgers matures, Philbin's name will become more recognizable."
Of Capers: "He is a diehard believer in the 3-4 defense. We wonder whether Green Bay has the pieces to make the change in '09. Capers knows the scheme inside and out and has been through the transition before. He can guide players like Aaron Kampman, A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett through struggles."
Around the NFC North, Minnesota has the 11th-best coaching staff (thanks to third-ranked defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier), Detroit the 23rd-best coaching staff and Chicago the 24th-best coaching staff.
Among head coaches, New England's Bill Belichick tops the RealScouts' list. "The smartest coach in the league," it states. The Giants' Tom Coughlin is second, followed by Philadelphia's Andy Reid, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, New Orleans' Sean Payton, Arizona's Ken Whisenhunt, Atlanta's Mike Smith, Carolina's John Fox and Baltimore's John Harbaugh.
In the NFC North, the Vikings' Brad Childress ranks 11th: "The team has gotten better every year under his watch, and last season he got the Vikings to the playoffs without a viable quarterback."
The Bears' Lovie Smith ranks 20th: "A Tony Dungy disciple, Smith is the picture of stoicism. He is one of the first generation Tampa-2 guys on defense, and his group will be much better this season now that he is reunited with line coach Rod Marinelli. Smith's new quarterback, Jay Cutler, will make him and his team better."
The Lions' Jim Schwartz' ranks 27th: "He is an excellent coach who has an excellent rapport with players. Detroit, however, is a tough place to prove your worth."
All of the new coaches are ranked 24th through 32nd, so Schwartz ranks in the middle of that group. RealScouts like Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan (sixth) and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham (15th).
Denver's Josh McDaniels is ranked the worst head coach.
With all the upheaval after the retirement of Tony Dungy, the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams are tied for the NFL's worst coaching staffs.
Of note are three familiar names. Former Packers defensive coordinator Jim Bates ranks just ahead of Capers, in fourth place. Bates is starting his first season in Tampa Bay. Gregg Williams, a favorite to be the defensive in coordinator in Green Bay, landed in New Orleans and is ranked 13th. Jeff Jagodzinski, McCarthy's offensive coordinator in his first season in Green Bay before going to Boston College to be head coach, is ranked 17th among offensive coordinators. He is starting his first season in Tampa Bay.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.