Pat Doherty of Rotoworld and NBC Sports has put together a list ranking all 32 of the NFL's head coaches. The rankings go from 1 to 25, with the 7 new head coaching hires in the league this year being ranked in a separate category.
Side note: New Detroit Lions coach, and former Colts head man, Jim Caldwell was ranked as the worst new hire. Ouch.
Overall, it's a very good list. Sure, there's a few rankings that are silly (Pete Carroll at No. 2), but overall it's logical and objective. One reason I personally see it at as so is Doherty's placement of Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.
He's ranked 21st in the league out of 25 coaches, which is right about where he should be.
21. Chuck Pagano
Career Record: 22-10 (.688)
With The Colts Since: 2012
This ranking may seem harsh — or stupid — but ask yourself: Have the Colts succeeded because of Pagano, or in spite of him? Pagano’s work on defense has been fine, but that’s to be expected of a former defensive coordinator. It’s the negative impact he’s had on offense that’s thus far defined his tenure. With OC Pep Hamilton doing his bidding, Pagano has insisted on a run-heavy scheme that highlights the Colts’ weaknesses and obscures their strengths. Andrew Luck attempted fewer passes than Ryan Tannehill and Andy Dalton last season. Meanwhile, Trent Richardson was allowed to slam into a brick wall 157 times. Running the ball and stopping the run is a formula that still works — just ask Seattle and San Francisco — but Indy did neither in 2013. That didn’t stop Pagano from sticking with his plan until the very end, or at least until Indy fell behind 38-10 in the Wild Card round to the Chiefs. Only then was Luck was fully unleashed, and the full brunt of Indy’s offensive firepower felt. Pagano has the best passing prospect since Peyton Manning at his disposal. Until/if he realizes that, he won’t be maximizing his team’s chance to win. That’s a cardinal sin for any head coach.
It's interesting that Doherty frames the Pagano-Hamilton dynamic as one involving Pagano "insisting" Hamilton run a run-oriented offense that doesn't seem to work. I'm not sure I agree with that, but what I do agree with is the sense that Pagano's stubborn adherence to systems and philosophies that are obsolete in today's NFL do indeed limit the Colts.
Yes, running the ball and stopping the run work well for the Seahawks and 49ers, but it was their pass defenses (Seahawks ranked No. 1 while 49ers ranked 7th) that put them in the NFL Championship Game against one another. They also sport two dynamic quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.
The Pagano cheerleaders will point to his 68% winning percentage as proof that he's a top tier coach. In reality, he isn't, and people around the NFL and in media who cover the NFL know it.
I have made no secret of my dislike for Pagano's coaching. I like the person that he is, but, last season he failed far too often to do the most basic job of any head coach: Getting his team ready to play week-to-week. Pagano's also not an especially good defensive coach despite his reputation coming from Baltimore, and he knows little-to-nothing about offense. His emphasis on stopping the run and playing "physical" hasn't pushed his team's run defense higher than 26th in the league during his tenure in Indy.
Pagano is a very unimpressive head coach, and his record is made to look good because his quarterback is Andrew Luck and his team plays in the chump division that is the AFC South.
2014 is a big year for Pagano, despite what many in Indianapolis media will suggest. His scheme has done little to improve Indy's traditionally porous defense, and his run-oriented offensive preference limits the best player on his roster. 2014 might be the last year Pagano will have to prove the Colts can win a Super Bowl using his method.
Oh, and Bruce Arians was ranked No. 8 on Doherty's list. That, too, is accurate.