49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Packers coach Mike McCarthy (USA Today Sports Images)
Some of the most important Super Bowl moments have happened in coaches' meeting rooms well before the games.
In Super Bowl XXV, Bill Parcells' tremendous game plan slowed down the Buffalo Bills' offense, controlled the clock and gave the Giants a chance to pull off the 20-19 upset. His defensive coordinator, Bill Belichick, went on to pull off a massive upset when the Patriots beat the heavily favored Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI behind a great plan that took away Marshall Faulk, the Rams' best weapon. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan's game plan to beat the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII and Tom Coughlin's job to outmaneuver the 18-0 Patriots in Super Bowl XLII also stand among the legendary coaching performances in NFL history.
There are 12 coaches heading into the postseason trying to either add to their impressive legacy, or build one with their first championship. Here is the ranking of the postseason coaches:
12. Mike McCoy, Chargers
Nice job by the first-year head coach to make the playoffs, but hard to rank him higher than 12th, considering the Chargers were the last team in the playoffs and they almost blew a Week 17 home game to the Chiefs' backups to get there.
11. Chuck Pagano, Colts
The Colts' inconsistency this season is a little troubling. And although Pagano was a great and inspiring story last year, Bruce Arians was coach of the year for his job guiding the Colts during Pagano's absence. So we're left with a pretty small resume for Pagano.
10. Marvin Lewis, Bengals
Lewis has been Bengals' coach since 2003, and he hasn't won a playoff game yet. It's remarkable he has lasted this long without any postseason victories. He has done a solid job the last few years with the Bengals, who are back in the playoffs for the third season in a row.
(USA Today Sports Images)
9. Ron Rivera, Panthers
About three months ago, the word was that the Panthers were already looking at Rivera's replacement after a rocky start. Rivera did a heck of a job to turn it around and get the No. 2 seed, and deserves coach of the year consideration, but it's hard to place him ahead of any of the top eight on this list.
8. Mike McCarthy, Packers
McCarthy has won a Super Bowl, but after this season it's fair to ask what McCarthy would be without Aaron Rodgers. McCarthy still makes some odd decisions, such as not going for two-point conversion in the fourth quarter last week at Chicago when it seemed like the obvious move.
7. Pete Carroll, Seahawks
Carroll, along with GM John Schneider, has done a nice job building up the Seahawks. It's just a tough pool and difficult to crack the top 6. By the time the playoffs are over, he might force his way up the list.
6. John Fox, Broncos
Taking Jake Delhomme to a Super Bowl (and almost winning it) when he was head coach in Carolina is pretty high on his list of accomplishments, and proves he's not just being dragged along by Peyton Manning. Thankfully, he seems to be over the health problems that knocked him out for a time earlier this season.
(USA Today Sports Images)
5. Chip Kelly, Eagles
Perhaps this is too high after just one season, but it's hard to ignore what he did. Once he figured out, thanks to Michael Vick's injury, that Nick Foles was the best quarterback for his system, the Eagles played remarkably well. The Eagles started 3-5 and then went 7-1 down the stretch. They improved on both sides of the ball. They were very difficult for opponents to prepare for because of the creative schemes. The coach who is No. 4 on this list had just four wins with pretty much the same Eagles roster in 2012. In a few years we might look back and say that No. 5 was way too low for Kelly.
4. Andy Reid, Chiefs
Reid didn't bring a Super Bowl title to Philadelphia, but he had a great run of success. And he did a remarkable job turning around the Chiefs this season. He did a great job playing to the strengths and covering up the weaknesses of his team, the signs of a smart coach.
3. Jim Harbaugh, 49ers
The 49ers are a clever team from an Xs and Os standpoint and Harbaugh is also a master motivator. He completely tranformed the 49ers franchise. He's stuck at No. 3 for now because the guy at No. 2 has a ring already.
2. Sean Payton, Saints
With Payton, the Saints won 13, 11 and 13 games from 2009-11. With Payton suspended for 2012, they won seven games. Then with him back this year, they won 11. Enough said.
1. Bill Belichick, Patriots
He has won at least 10 games in 11 straight seasons, a remarkable accomplishment. The Patriots have won at least 12 each of the last four years. And this year, with a ton of key players gone from last year's squad because of injuries, free agency or off-field issues, might be the best coaching job of his career.
- - - - - - -