Monday, July 31, 2006

NFC East By The Numbers: Head Coaches

The foundation for the hyper-competitive 2006 NFC East was laid in 2003 when Washington and New York upgraded their coaching staffs. Dallas snapped in its coach the prior year. All did it to compete with Philadelphia who was kicking butt with Andy Reid teams. The East already has one coach in the Hall of Fame, one destined to make it and one, who is coaching in Sunday's Hall of Fame game, a very likely candidate. The HOF jury is still out on Tom Coughlin, but he remains an upper-echelon coach.

Players can win you games. Coaches win the season. Players see themselves as NFL employees. Free agency is hell on team loyalty. There is no doubt that players will go elsewhere for the big payday when their contracts expire. A few try to bluster their way out of current commitments, as Deion Branch is now doing at New England. Player turnover is the new reality.

Where have we seen this before? College, especially college basketball, where the head coach is the continuity factor, the "face of the team." It's getting that way in the NFL, too. To compete and win on a sustained basis, you must compete for coaches more than for stars. There are no stars but coaches. That's why Daniel Snyder/Joe Gibbs loaded up on Saunders/Williams/Bugel, all former head coaches. It's why LaVar Arrington and Lav Coles were expendable. If Gibbs could lure Russ Grimm, who will someday be a head coach, away from the Steelers, I'm sure he would do it. And teams can do it without running afoul of salary caps.

Andy Reid had his way with the NFC East early in the decade when he was up against Dave Campo (15-33) and Steve Spurrier (12-20). How does he stack up now? Here are the records for current NFC East coaches ranked by percentage of career regular season wins through 2005.


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