By HCR Staff | Dec. 18, 2018
When the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens last met, on Nov. 4, the Steelers emerged victorious, one reason they maintain a half-game lead over Baltimore in the AFC North with two games left in the regular season. That’s good news for Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and not-so-good news for Ravens head coach John Harbaugh – who still has the Ravens in line for a wild card berth, but could see his job in jeopardy if they don’t make it.
That said, we here at Head Coach Ranking see more positives when we look at what Harbaugh has done this season as opposed to what Tomlin has done.
In fact, here are contrarian views on seven NFL head coaches:
John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
Notwithstanding all the talk that he may be terminated at the end of the season, Harbaugh has done a fine job thus far. He’s presided over an offense that has had to transition to a rookie quarterback with a completely different style of play than the veteran QB who began the season as starter. And he’s done this while keeping the locker room intact. Not easy.
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday’s victory over the Patriots was big, but we are not convinced that Tomlin’s quality as an in-game decision maker and strategist is on the same level as the talent available to him in the front office and on the roster. We feel the product is too inconsistent from week to week, and that is a direct consequence of Tomlin’s decision-making and game-planning.
Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
Shanahan doesn’t have a good won-loss record in his first two seasons (10-20), but every coach in the league will tell you that his squad is a tough out. Shanahan has had to deal with an injury epidemic, and we look forward to seeing what he can do when he has better luck.
Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins
Even though Gase sits at 7-7 with a chance to make the playoffs, we feel he has underachieved relative to what was expected of him. We don’t disagree that his X’s and O’s mind is as good as any other coach in the game, but something certainly is causing the Dolphins’ lack of consistency week to week. We don’t question the effort, we simply question the energy and results. In Week 15, the Dolphins were being dominated by Minnesota until Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins threw an ill-advised pass for a pick six. Then the Dolphins’ energy picked up. Why wasn’t the same energy there at the beginning of the game?
Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins
Even though the Redskins lost their hold on first place in the NFC East, Gruden earns a thumbs-up from us. Similar to Shanahan, he’s had to deal with an injury epidemic during his entire tenure in Washington. We feel he is one of the best game planners in the league, and if he has better luck, the Redskins are not far away from a division title.
Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles got a big win on the road Sunday night against the Rams, but we still question much of Pederson’s in-game decision-making. Last season, every decision came up roses for Pederson on the way to a Super Bowl title, but that has not been the case this season. He seems to want to be all in on the analytics craze — but at the same time, he has expressed that much of his gut also goes into his decision-making. We don’t think he has a reliable formula yet, and he is taking a hit-and-miss approach to it. While the Eagles got an impressive win against the Rams, they also nearly blew a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter. We feel Peterson has benefited greatly from the experience and acumen of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Should Schwartz get a head coaching job this offseason, it will be interesting to see how the Eagles handle such a loss.
Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills
McDermott flies under the radar, and the Bills are battling just to avoid the AFC East cellar, but his team is a tough out most of the time. This is a very young squad, but one full of remarkable athletes. We see a fast, athletic and tough-minded team for 2019, particularly if rookie quarterback Josh Allen can stay healthy.