Ranking the NFL: Insider grading on every franchise
Earlier this year, an NFL head coach challenged me on something I said about an organization being "great."
He told me to crunch the numbers. So I did.
As a result, we have our first annual NFL organization rankings here on FOXSports.com.
Check Adam Schein's NFL organization rankings below. For more on his grades for each team, check the
Every NFL team was graded on eight categories:
These were the suggested criteria for judgment from the head coach.
The intangibles category includes criteria ranging from fan support to stadiums and facilities to public relations staff. The coach who sparked this concept was adamant I include PR staffs within intangibles, with how they shape coach and player happiness and the fine line between perception and reality with fans and media.
The highest grade you can get in a category is a 10, with 1 being the lowest. Grades were given either as round numbers or with a ".5".
Remember, this is NOT a power ranking. I know that there are teams in the top 10 I won't pick for the playoffs.
So here you go, the first edition of a soon-to-be annual list.
1. New England Patriots
Final Score: 74.5
Bill Belichick is the best head coach in football. Tom Brady is the best quarterback in football. Bob Kraft is a fantastic owner who knows how to market his team while letting Belichick run everything dealing with football. New England got a 30 out of 30 for head coach, quarterback and owner. The league created what it thought was a dynasty-proof system with the salary cap, yet New England was able to dominate because of the structure established under Belichick and Kraft. The New England Patriots don't just top these rankings, they are the model franchise in all of professional sports.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
Final Score: 71.5
The grade reflects the core Steeler value — toughness. The Rooney family is exceptional. Ben Roethlisberger has emerged as a top 4 quarterback. Mike Tomlin and his staff , led by the great Dick LeBeau, do an excellent job. Kevin Colbert doesn't get enough credit for how he runs the football department. The defense is nasty. And the omnipresent "Steeler Nation" that floods all stadiums comes pretty close to giving Pittsburgh 16 home games a year. Pittsburgh got a 10 for intangibles and owner and a for defense and quarterback.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
Final Score: 71.0
The Eagles didn't get a grade in any category under 8.5. This is a great organization, from owner Jeff Lurie , to the PR staff to the talent and good guys on the playing roster. Andy Reid and his outstanding coaching staff proved to be the difference between the Eagles and rival Giants.
4. New York Giants
Final Score: 69.5
Jerry Reese has done wonders in the draft since taking over for Ernie Accorsi as general manager. The Giants received high marks for head coach, ownership , defense, and quarterback. When it comes to the Mara and Tisch families, everything is touched with class. The Giants die hard fan base and a new stadium helped with the grade for intangibles.
5. Baltimore Ravens
Final Score: 66.5
The Ravens organization doesn't get enough credit for being among the elite. The public relations staff is excellent, both media and player friendly, which helped the Ravens get a 9 for intangibles. Ozzie Newsome and his outstanding staff are consistently plucking superb talent in the draft, and the front office got a "10". And the stellar defense (9.5)and a young stud at quarterback (7) didn't hurt the ranking, either.
6. Atlanta Falcons
Final Score: 62.0
Yeah, I am as shocked by this as you are. Actually, it all stems from owner Arthur Blank. Credit him for Tom Dimitroff, Mike Smith, and Matt Ryan. His players swear by him. Blank does wonders in the community.
7. Indianapolis Colts
Final Score: 61.5
For giggles, I crunched the numbers with Tony Dungy, Tom Moore, and Howard Mudd still on the staff. It equaled 73. Bill Polian and Peyton Manning scored a "10" for front office and quarterback, respectively. I gave Jim Caldwell and his staff a combined 8. One year late, Colts fans. Sorry about that.
8. Green Bay
Final Score: 61.0
My head is going to explode the next time a caller calls my Sirius NFL Radio show claiming to be a Packers fan as he bashes Ted Thompson. How many teams in sports can contend while building for the future? The Packers are young and loaded with talent thanks to Thompson's pure genius on draft day and strong niche based veterans pickups.
9. San Diego
Final Score: 60.5
This proved to be a grade that is the exact replica of the Chargers. Offense plus defense combined with quarterback equaled the highest score in the league for the three categories. Coach Norv Turner, who was generously scored, was the difference in San Diego not getting top 5 rating. AJ Smith's genius helped the front office get a 9. AJ Smith's frosty personality helped sink intangibles to a 6.
10. Tennessee Titans
Final Score: 60.0
I was one of 3 Associated Press voters who voted for Jeff Fisher as coach of the year last year. From Mike Heimerdinger to Jim Washburn, Fisher's staff ranks as one of the best in the sport. The Titans got a whopping 20 out of 20 possible points for head coach and coaching staff. Scores of "5" for owner and quarterback (I can't give Kerry Collins anything higher than a 5 and I don't think Vince Young will ever live up) evened things out.
11. Arizona Cardinals
Final Score: 59.5
Believe it! These are not your father's Cardinals or even your older brother's squad! Team president Michael Bidwell has made his presence felt in the organization and community. A grade of "5.5" is pretty strong for ownership considering the franchise history. Arizona always does an excellent job in the draft and the club is loaded with Pro Bowl players, which is why Rod Graves and company got an 8.5. The stadium is beautiful, which helped for intangibles. Ken Whisenhunt has put his stamp on the ball club. I scored Zona an "8' for quarterback and "9.5" for offense. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are studs.
12. Dallas Cowboys
Final Score: 59
Jerry Jones, owner, got a 9.5. Jerry Jones, general manager, got a 2.5. The incredible fan support helped the Boys and the quest for so many free agents to join "America's team" helped Dallas get a 10 for intangibles. Wade Phillips got a 5 while his staff got a 7.
13. New York Jets
Final Score: 58.5
Rex Ryan has changed the culture with the Jets. You can argue a 7 is strong for a guy who has never coached a game. I'm saying it might be too low. As one person in the know told me, "Rex had breakfast with, well, everyone the first day he arrived. And he makes a point to talk to everyone. The atmosphere is now wonderful. The players feel the energy." And now go into your crystal ball and project what Ryan's defense in New York will look like.
14. Miami Dolphins
Final Score: 58.0
An ownership shift always scares you. But the Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, Tony Sparano trio is incredibly strong. Miami totaled 33 points out of 40 for front office, head coach, coaching staff, and intangibles. Grading the quarterback position was difficult, factoring in whether or not Chad Pennington can do it again, the upside of Chad Henne, and the influence of Pat White. I gave it a 6.
15. Chicago Bears
Final Score: 57.5
Jay Cutler helped the Bears stock improve significantly. But before the blockbuster trade, the Chicago ownership could most certainly be described as frugal. Actually, Cutler raised the grade for quarterback (8.5), front office (6), owner (6), and intangibles (8) as the team's esteem is sky high after the Cutler deal.
16. New Orleans Saints
Final Score: 56.5
The Saints got a 9.5 for quarterback. Mickey Loomis and staff 7.5 have assembled a roster that should win a division. Now the question becomes, can Sean Payton and new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams get them there. Payton only got a 5. I gave his staff a 6. Owner Tom Benson signing a lease with the city through 2025 was paramount or the rating would be much lower. It's a tremendous victory for the organization and fans. The Saints tallied a 6 for ownership and a 9 for intangibles.
17. Carolina Panthers
Final Score: 56
Do you believe in Jake Delhomme? I'm not convinced he has much left in the tank and generously gave him a 5. Is Ron Meeks the right hire for John Fox? I'm not convinced of that either. Carolina's coaching staff recorded a 6. But Fox (7), Marty Hurney (8.5), Jerry Richardson (8.5), and a relatively new yet very passionate fan base (7 for intangibles) helped out in key categories.
18. Minnesota Vikings
Final Score: 54.5
The Vikings have a major stadium issue past 2011 and got a 6 for intangibles. The Vikings have a major quarterback issue right now. Sage Rosenfels plus Tarvaris Jackson in conjunction with Brett Favre rumors equals a 3. It's why a very talented team (8 for offense with Peterson and a 9 for defense) that made the playoffs is ranked so low. Brad Childress got a 5.
19. Seattle Seahawks
Final Score: 53.5
When it came to the football part of the grades, this was difficult. Is Matt Hasselbeck healthy? The lack of depth behind him hurt the quarterback score, which is a 6. What about Deion Branch? Can I bank on Nate Burleson? The offense, with it's issues at running back, got a 5.5. Will the real Jim Mora please stand up? I thought a 5 was fair. On the plus side, ownership(9), the fan support of the "12th man" combined with a gorgeous new practice facility and strong PR staff (8.5 for intangibles) helped out the Seahawks final tally.
20. Kansas City Chiefs
Final Score: 53.0
Kansas City scored very high for front office (9) with the great Scott Pioli running the show. I like Todd Haley (6.5) and his new staff (6.5). And the Chiefs have a tremendous fan base and, according to several players we talked to, the best home field advantage in football. KC scored a 3 for defense.
21. Houston Texans
Final Score: 52.0
Bob McNair is an excellent owner. While I have big expectations for the Texans this year that might include winning a division, they got a 5 for head coach, coaching staff, and quarterback ... and some will argue that was too high.
22. Buffalo Bills
Final Score: 48.0
There were several 5's and 6's flooding the Bills line. In fact, the lowest score was a 5 and 6.5 represented the highest tally. Russ Brandon and Dick Jauron are very capable at what they do. Playing one home game each year in Toronto is a blow, losing an outdoors contest in front of an incredible, rabid fan base.
23. San Francisco 49ers
Final Score: 46.5
The Niners ranked higher than you might think when breaking down front office and head coach. The rating of 1 at quarterback didn't aid the cause.
24. Washington Redskins
Final Score: 46.0
I like Jim Zorn's staff with Greg Blache and Joe Bugel. It's Jim Zorn himself that made the ranking plummet. And Dan Snyder. And Vinny Cerrato. Even a strong defensive grade couldn't save Washington.
25. Cincinnati Bengals
Final Score: 40.0
I gave the Bengals a "9" for quarterback, which shows you I still view Carson Palmer as a great quarterback, despite his most recent injury. It also shows you how low Cincy graded out for ownership and front office, despite an excellent offseason. And Chad Ochocinco's presence and the continued trend of bringing in players with character issues is a negative and it is why Cincinnati got a "2" for intangibles. Ochocino is a walking distraction for a team that has had an otherwise great offseason.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Final Score: 38.0
Is there a direction in Tampa? I cannot find one. The quarterbacks got a "3". So did ownership.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars
Final Score: 37.5
The Jags got a very low grade when it came to ownership and intangibles as the small market Jaguars usually act like it. And it's problematic that they still cannot develop a legit, strong fan base. I feel badly for Jack Del Rio and company in this regard.
28. St. Louis Rams
Final Score: 36.0
I believe that Steve Spagnuolo will be a very good head coach but there's a huge mess within the Rams organization that he needs to clean up. And this is with a "7" for Marc Bulger at quarterback, which I know some will argue is too high.
29. Denver Broncos
Final Score: 31.0
What happens when you trade a franchise quarterback, sink morale in an organization, screw up a draft and chase out valued front-office staffers? You become a coach on the hot seat before your first ever game. Josh McDaniels has ruined this organization. Denver has lost a lot of excellent talent at quarterback, head coach and on their public relations staff in the last 365 days.
30. Oakland Raiders
Final Score: 30.5
Al Davis has done a lot of wonderful things for the Raiders and the NFL. Sadly, not much of it has been in recent years.
31. Cleveland Browns
Final Score: 29.0
What do you call someone who loses more than he wins, fresh off a gut-wrenching collapse while alienating players and staff? Cleveland calls him (former Jets head coach Eric Mangini) the new coach. I am trying to follow the logic and consistency under Randy Lerner the last two years.
32. Detroit Lions
Final Score: 27.0
I like Jim Schwartz and thought he put together a very strong coaching staff, led by Gunther Cunningham. But it's tough to overcome a "1" for ownership and front office. There's a reason why the Lions are rebuilding since 1957.
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