A good boss can make a world of difference in the NFL
Head coaches have come in many shapes and sizes over the years. Some are disciplinarians, others are more easygoing. And while we all wish we could have played for the legendary Vince Lombardi, there are many guys out there today who are doing great things and making the game of football a joy. So, let's find out who those guys are. Without further ado, we present the 10 NFL head coaches we'd most like to play for. -- Sid Saraf
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
Look, people can find plenty of reasons to criticize Lewis as he's yet to win a playoff game since arriving in Cincinnati back in 2003. But think about this: He took over a franchise that hadn't sniffed the postseason in the 12 years before he took the job. And in this modern NFL, where coaches are fired with regularity, keeping the same gig for over a decade means he must be doing something right. The players recognize that, too. "I couldn't see myself playing for anyone else. When you come to Cincinnati, you know Marvin Lewis is a hell of a coach and he's going to look after his players," Domata Peko said back in 2012. Who wouldn't want to play in that environment?
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY SportsAndrew Weber
Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts
Pagano was hit with devastating news back in 2012 when he was diagnosed with leukemia early in the season. He battled through the disease and his struggle galvanized Indianapolis and gave birth to the #ChuckStrong movement. But that's not what lands him on this list. It's the culture he's built with the Colts. Running back Trent Richardson said it best: "Some guys in the NFL, you can't really talk to. You don't really talk to them, have that relationship with them ... [Pagano] knows what it's all about," he said to the Boston Globe. Pagano's dedication to his players has fostered a positive environment and back-to-back playoff seasons. And he's just getting started.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY SportsBrian Spurlock
Lovie Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Let's face it, the man got a raw deal when he was unceremoniously fired in Chicago after a 10-6 season in 2012. The man is most definitely a players's coach and is arguably the most even-keeled head coach in the league. On an emotional scale from 1-10, Smith aims to stay at a 5 and rarely breaks from that. "You know something's wrong when he's upset," former player DJ Moore once said. But don't think he's not intense. Smith loves fostering the classic "us vs. them" mentality when it comes to his teams and his players love to rally around him. This might be his first season with the Buccaneers, but his new team will come to know and love his coaching style soon enough.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
Payton comes from the Bill Parcells coaching tree, which isn't exactly known for its warm and fuzzy demeanor. But that doesn't matter. With Payton at the helm, the Saints are at worst a playoff threat. Without him, the Saints stumbled to a 7-9 record in 2012 thanks to Payton's BountyGate suspension. Now, while most people think his reputation was tarnished because of the scandal, there's something to be said about how he took his punishment like a man. He owned up to his faults and came back a better man. And once Payton was roaming the sidelines again? The Saints were back in the postseason. That's worthy of respect.
Getty ImagesStacy Revere
Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles
During his first season as an NFL head coach in 2013, he silenced many doubters who snickered at his new-age approach to building an organization that stressed proper nutrition. All he did was take the Eagles from a 4-12 team in 2012 to a 10-win playoff squad last season. What's more, players are buying in and why wouldn't they? Wouldn't you want to be a part of an offense that can chew up yards and put points on the board? "There was just a culture change," QB Nick Foles said to the Sacramento Bee. And Kelly gives respect to his players and treats them like adults. "If you have self-governance, I think the individuals have more invested in what's going on because they have a stake in it," Kelly said. Makes perfect sense.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY SportsMatthew Emmons
Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers
This is a controversial selection. He wears the same outfit constantly and can sometimes seem clinically insane with his theatrics on the sidelines. And yes, maybe his intense competitive streak will wear thin after a while. But you can't argue with this: Since taking over as the 49ers head coach back in 2011, he's reached two NFC title games and has one Super Bowl appearance. He also revived a moribund organization that seemed perpetually lost. He will go to bat for his players at the drop of a hat and has an enthusiasm that his charges love. And he has the coolest locker room rallying cry. Who doesn't want to scream: "Who's got it better than us?!! NOOOOOOOBODY!" It would be fun to be that intense ... well, at least for a little while.
Getty ImagesMichael Zagaris
Rex Ryan, New York Jets
He's the best quote in the NFL. There's really no need to repeat his resume, since it speaks for itself. Rex is bombastic, funny and infinitely likeable. Of course, there are many out there in the media who make a habit of trashing Ryan with their endless "hot sports takes," but let's face it: Those people are idiots. Jets players love competing for Ryan because they know that their head coach has their backs. It's a fact. What's more, he does have back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances under his belt, so he must know what he's doing. Now, if only he could get consistent quarterback play ...
New York Jets/Getty ImagesAl Pereira
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
He was just 35 years old when he became just the 16th head coach in Steelers history. He didn't have an easy job as he took over a team with several established veterans and an organization that expects success. But, he never wilted on the big stage and has made the Steelers his own. Plus, you have to give credit to a man who isn't afraid to get involved in the action, as anyone who watched him "accidentally" get in the way of a Ravens player along the sidelines last season can attest. Don't you want a coach who isn't afraid to take part in some shenanigans?
Vincent Pugliese-USA TODAY SportVincent Pugliese
Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals
The man has panache and an affinity for Kangol hats that is just ... awesome. Arians was the man who directed the Colts to a playoff appearance when head coach Chuck Pagano was battling leukemia. Then, he came to Arizona in 2013 and won 10 games in his first season as a head man at age 60. His personality and sense of humor are infectious and some of his players look at him as a father figure. But Arians bristles at that. "I don't like that. I'm the cool uncle you like to have a drink with. Everybody had that uncle, that you really just love that uncle. He might call you a little [expletive] or something. That's me," Arians said to arizonasports.com. Well, all hail to Uncle [expletive] Bruce.
Getty ImagesChristian Petersen
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
Haters have been gunning for this guy since his days at USC. He's cocky, he's arroagant, he's a cheater and blah, blah, blah. Those haters are just trying to mask their own jealously. Carroll has made having fun as important as X's an O's as his boundless energy has become a hallmark of his teams in recent years. He's also extremely competitive -- hence, his "Always Compete" motto -- but he's just not a jerk about it like Jim Harbaugh. He knows how to spot talent, encourages and develops younger players into steady contibutors and has built a culture of success in Seattle. And guess what? He just won a Super Bowl and NFL players just named him the league's most popular head coach by a wide margin. So, what do the haters have to say now? Exactly ... nothing.