TAMPA – Most football fans would likely agree that if you were to gather up all 32 of the NFL’s head coaches and put them into the same room, the smartest person in that room, at least in terms of football knowledge, would be Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
But what if you were to remove from that room every coach except for the three coaching a team in the state of Florida? Who would be the smartest football man among Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter, Dolphins coach Adam Gase and Jaguars coach Doug Marrone?
Well, we have an answer, sort of. NFL.com analyst Elliott Harrison revealed his ranking of the NFL’s 32 head coaches from worst to first this week and of course Belichick came in at No. 1, followed by Pete Carroll of the Seahawks and Mike McCarthy of the Packers.
As for the three coaches working here in the state of Florida, you have to go all the way down to No. 16 – past Mike Zimmer at No. 10 and Chuck Pagano at No. 15 – before you find the first, which rightfully so is Gase, though this does seem a bit low.
Pagano’s teams have underperformed and put together back-to-back 8-8 seasons in what has been a very winnable NFC South the last two years while the Vikings have sandwiched two losing seasons around one very brief playoff appearance under Zimmer.
Granted, Gase has only had one year on the job, but it was one heck of a year. He established a team identity in Miami and got the Dolphins to the playoffs by orchestrating nine wins in their last 11 games, including a few in which he didn’t have the use of his best quarterback.
Koetter is next up on the list but you have to go all the way down to No. 22 to find him, just past Jay Gruden, who has had a Zimmer-like run with the Redskins. Still, this seems about right for Koetter, who admittedly was learning on the job last year.
Like Gase, though, Koetter is one of the coaches that seems most primed to move up quickly on a list like this, especially if he can get the Bucs to capitalize on all their potential and bring an end to their now nine-year playoff drought.
As for Marrone, he came it at No. 26, which seems about right for him as well. He’s behind the Browns Hue Jackson, which is a bit curious, but it would be hard to justify placing him ahead of Koetter, Mike Mularkey of the Titans (23) or Doug Pederson of the Eagles (25).
Oh, and just as you might expect, the coaches at the bottom of the list are the rookies, save for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who came in at No. 27, just ahead of Todd Bowles of the Jets, who barely edged out Sean McDermott of the Bills (29), Sean McVay of the Rams (30), Vance Joseph of the Broncos (31) and Anthony Lynn of the Chargers (32).