Sean Payton is the third best head coach in the NFL according to a sampling done by ESPN.
ESPN Insider, Mike Sando, put together the Tiers project for NFL coaches. Sando polled eight current general managers, four former GM’s, four personnel directors, four executives, six coordinators and four position coaches, basically a bunch of people who should know a whole lot about coaches in the NFL.
They had them each rank coaches within the NFL on a scale of 1-5 , (1 being the best).
The ranking system has fallen under some scrutiny due to first time coaches such as Mike Pettine, Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer being on the list, because how in the world do you compare someone like Zimmer who has never coached a game before to Tom Cofflin who has been coaching since the 80s.
But for what its worth here is the top 5 according to this list:
- Bill Belichick
- Pete Carroll
- Sean Payton
- Andy Reid
- Tom Cofflin
Now for my very humble opinion on these top 5 coaches:
Belichick is kind of an easy number one.
Carroll is a flavor of the month pick. He did just win the Super Bowl so its kinda hard to argue with that one.
Dec 8, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton against the Carolina Panthers prior to a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Payton is obviously a highly regarded coach for what he’s done with the Saints and the adversity the club has faced over the last few years.
Of course if it were up to the Who Dat Nation and BigEasyBeliever.com our beloved coach would be number one, but lets break down why he is number 3 a little more.
According to ESPN Insider Payton averaged a rating of 1.30.
Sando’s breakdown of the opinions of Payton was especially compelling.
According to the opinions of those polled no coach in the league commanded as much respect for his abilities as an offensive innovator. It was also noted that an unnamed former Saints assistant spoke highly of Paytons’s ability to create a culture of positive thinkings.
Sando also said two voters were turned off by Payton’s ego, citing examples like Payton playing drums with Jimmy Buffett during his suspension (I guess he was just suppose to shove his nose in the corner like a good little boy the whole time) and the amount of times he has changed defensive coordinators. One of them even rated Payton as a 3.
However, an unnamed coach who once worked with Payton dismissed those concerns, saying Payton makes things about him to take the spotlight away from his players, much like mentor Bill Parcell and number 1, Belichick do.
As the research shows, Payton deserves a 1 rating based on his skill as an offensive game planner alone. His ability to created and exploit mismatches has to rank up there with the best in NFL history. So we’ll take a 3 for Payton and keep on.
Andy Reid: Now heres where the holes start to creep up in ESPN Insiders’ system… Ok a top 10 sure, but top 5? What? I mean he is ranked above two time Super Bowl winning, boss of the Giants,Tom Coughlin for goodness sake. Is Reid seriously a better coach?
And here is my biggest quarrel with this list; Jim Harbow not being in the top 5. Harbow took over the 49ers, an awful team that had been awful for a very long time. They were as irrelevant as any time ever has been in the NFL and Harbow shows up and in three years they’ve made the NFC championship game 3 times and the Super Bowl once. According to this list however Harbow is listed as number 8 right before his brother John Harbow at number 9.
So I’m thinking the scale is a little skewed however we can all agree it was absolutely correct in placing Payton in the top 5. As mention before Payton deserves a 1 rating based on his skills an as offensive game planner alone, but he has been equally impressive as a head coach, a motivator and an organizer who pays extreme attention to detail while creating an unprecedented winning culture in New Orleans.