Author’s note: this post can also be seen at the Bleacher Report.
When it comes to evaluating players and coaches in the NFL, it’s a what have you done for me lately league.
Perhaps no division highlights that fact better than the NFC East.
Rewind back – if you will – to the tail end of the 2011 regular season. Tom Coughlin, the veteran Giants head coach, was seemingly coaching for his life each week. A loss in either Week 16 or 17 may have meant unemployment for the former Super Bowl winner; a win simply seemed to ensure he’d live to see another day on the job.
Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? as Coughlin, like his quarterback, is firmly entrenched amongst the elite at their respective jobs, with two Super Bowl wins to show for it.
But is Coughlin the top ranked head coach in the NFC East in my eyes?
Keep reading to find out.
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
Of course he is, as Coughlin accomplished what many believed to be impossible in beating the Patriots – and the combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady – not once, but twice on the game’s biggest stage.
Coughlin believes in preparation, discipline, and attention to detail. He doesn’t care what the rest of the world thinks about him, and he knows how to motivate his players to excel at the right time – as was evidenced in both 2007 and 2011.
He’s not just the best coach in the NFC East, he’s amongst the best in all of football (you’ll find out later this week where he ranks in my complete list of all head coaches).
The Giants are wisely working to sign him up for a long-term pact, and that means more wins and more success for Big Blue.
Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
My belief about Reid: he’s the best coach in the NFL to not have won a Super Bowl. He’s been there, gotten close on three other occasions, and has catalyzed a decade-plus long run of consistency (mostly, at least) in Philadelphia, all the while doing so with incessant chirping from fans for the Eagles to cut ties with him.
Reid is amongst the best technical teachers in the game – he’s a quarterback genius, and he loves to groom players with tools after others could not. He’s a risk taker and an evaluator and players respect him. He may never get a Super Bowl victory, but Reid is a darn good football coach.
Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins
Ten years ago, Shanahan would be in the conversation for the best coach in all of football, but the road has been rocky since. He took over in Washington two offseason ago, and the results have been fruitless: two losing seasons, multiple personnel mishaps, and very little to suggest the franchise is moving forward.
That may soon change, with Robert Griffin III assuming the role of face of the franchise, but it’s up to Shanahan to prepare the roster around him to succeed.
The franchise way overpaid for receivers this offseason, and inking safety Brandon Meriweather to a two-year, $6 million deal made no sense, but curious decisions are the norm in DC.
In the end though, rings don’t lie, and Shanahan sits comfortably at third on this list.
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
At one point, Garrett was recognized as one of the best young assistants in football, and a sure-fire head-coaching star.
Well, he’s a head coach for the team with a star on his helmet, but Garrett hasn’t yet achieved that stardom.
He earned the full time Cowboys gig before the 2010 season, and the team made strides in 2011 with a near playoff birth. That counts for virtually nothing in Big D, and Garrett’s questionable game management skills came into focus throughout the season.
Coaches’ fortunes are often tied to their quarterback, and in the case of Garrett, he needs to either entrust Tony Romo in crunch time (which I know can be risky), or move forward in a different direction.
Wavering gets you nowhere in the NFL.