Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen is interviewed after rookie minicamp
With each position group on offense and defense ranked along with each AFC West Special teams, now we add the final piece to the puzzle-the head coach. A coach needs talented players to be successful. However, a great coach can make his players better and bad coach can destroy the efforts of any number of great players.
A head coach must inspire his players, lead them, and be able to manage the game. He also must surround himself with coaches who can design the offense, defense, and special teams to make his job easier. They must engender confidence in their players and the organization as whole that whatever decision they make will be the right one. Most coaches either got it or they don't. It's either in them or it isn't.
Here are the rankings for each AFC West team by their head coach:
Just what he was able to do with the Broncos last season was something to behold. The way he was able to tailor the offense and utilize Tim Tebow to win the AFC West and go on to win a playoff game was incredible. Not to mention the defense going from one of the worst in the NFL to one of the best. Rescuing a team from oblivion is not new for John Fox. He did the same with the Panthers in his very first head coaching job bringing the 1-15 Panthers to a respectable 7-9 record. The next season the Panthers were in the Super Bowl. Their defensive coordinator that season was Jack Del Rio who is now back with John Fox for next season. And on offense he has some help with Peyton Manning being a coach on the field. Prior to last season with the Broncos, Fox spent nine seasons as the head coach of the Panthers. Up until his final season in which the rebuilding club went 2-14, he never had less than seven wins in a season. He took the Panthers to the playoffs three times including the conference championship in 2005 and a Super bowl in 2003. Overall, he has a 81-79 regular season record and a 6-4 playoff record.
Remember how I talked about the Broncos going from one of the worst defenses in the NFL to one of the best last season? Well, the guy in control of that defense was one Dennis Allen. Allen may have never served as a head coach in the NFL but he was a hot commodity this offseason because he is widely seen as a bright young NFL mind. He rose from DB coach to defensive coordinator to head coach in two seasons. He may be unproven as a head coach but NFL teams would much rather have unproven potential than a proven loser. Allen doesn't talk like a new coach though. He has a commanding presence about him which is essential in a head coach. His team respects him and the organization believes in him. Unlike the Raiders' previous coach, Allen keeps an even keel and doesn't mince words. He is the first defensive minded coach the Raiders have had since John Madden. And unlike previous coaches, he wasn't on the hot seat from the moment he was hired.
Crennel is another in a long line of failed former Patriot assistants. While the Patriots were "winning" their three Super Bowls, teams around the NFL thought they could get a piece of the greatness by signing away their assistants to be their head coaches. Guys like Crennel, Charlie Weis, Eric Mangini, and Josh McDaniels have all been given head coaching jobs elsewhere and have all failed miserably. Crennel was hired by the Browns and in four seasons as their head coach, he had one season with a winning record (10-6). He finished with a record of 24-40. Now, he will not only be the head coach but he will also be taking on the defensive coordinator duties as well. That formula has rarely worked out well. The outlook isn't great for this arrangement.
Every year Norv Turner is on the hot seat in San Diego and every year he is brought back. He gets the lowest ranking here because unlike Crennel, Turner has coached some of the greatest talent in the NFL during his time with the Chargers and hasn't been unable to do anything with it. The Chargers made the playoffs during his first three years at the helm which sounds great except they were already a playoff team when he took over. They had gone 14-2 the year before and went 11-5 in Turner's first season. With Hall of Fame talent like LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates and Pro Bowl talent like Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Lorenzo Neal, Kris Dielman, Marcus McNeil, Nick Hardwick, Jamal Williams, Shawn Merriman, Shaun Phillips, Eric Weddle, and Nate Kaeding, a monkey with a headset could lead this team to the playoffs. Turner has always been a brilliant offensive mind. But that's it. He's an offensive coordinator. Nothing more. He can't lead a team as a head coach. His career losing record (107- 113), four trips to the playoffs in 14 seasons, eight total playoff games (4-4), and zero trips to the Super Bowl as a head coach bears this out. He is a lame duck coach this year (again). And without most of the players listed above, he should be gone this time.