By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — This year, just like every year in mid-November, one of the most prominent stories around the NFL involves the potential firings of head coaches around the league. It is a sobering, ever-present reminder of how fickle that profession can be.
Among the teams that may see new coaches sooner than later would be the Jets, Buccaneers, Ravens, Browns, Broncos, Cowboys, Cardinals, and probably some more wild cards: the Packers, Bengals, Jaguars, and Lions. Who knows? It’s hard to predict. While some of those teams will retain their current coaches, the point is that Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season will see a number of new faces that weren’t on the job in Week 1 of 2018.
And with that in mind, I decided it’s time — before it’s too late — to assess this current crop of NFL head coaches the only way I know how. While other sports media outlets rank the temperature of the coaches’ hot seats, I’m going colder. Much colder. So cold that the mountains are turning azul.
I’m bringing back my own set of power rankings: NFL Head Coaches You’d Most Like To Have A Beer With.
I did this back in 2015, and scanning through some of the names, it’s crazy to see how much turnover can happen so quickly. Check out how wild this is: Of the 32 NFL head coaches who were active in December 2015, 14 have been fired and two retired. That’s half the league.
So, before the axes start to swing across the NFL this year, it’s time to bring it back. Which coaches would be best to sit down with, fill up a pitcher or two, and watch some football. As I wrote in 2015, “The rankings are, quite obviously, subjective. But they’re also unequivocally right.”
Here we go.
THE BORING DIVISION
32. Pat Shurmur, New York Giants
No disrespect to Mr. Shurmur, but I’ve described him in this column multiple times by saying he looks like Normal Adult Male. He looks like the generic Create-A-Coach from, say, Madden ’05. He looks like one of the human characters from Thomas The Tank Engine. Just doesn’t seem super interesting. But again, no disrespect.
31. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers
Unless he was willing to spill his guts regarding the Packers’ insistence on running the most basic offense in football despite employing the most dynamic quarterback, we’d be short on things to discuss.
30. Steve Wilks, Arizona Cardinals
29. Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills
28. Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears
27. Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos
26. Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts
25. Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles Chargers
24. Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
23. Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
We either know too little or just enough about these guys to really find an intriguing peg for conversation. Dirk Koetter owns the rare distinction of spending a whole season on “Hard Knocks” without being interesting once. Impressive.
22. Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
Pete doesn’t belong in the “BORING” category, but he just can’t rank any higher than this. There would be absolutely not one single second of silence, not a moment of dead air, if you sat down with Pete. It would be exhausting.
21. Todd Bowles, New York Jets
When I did these rankings in 2015, I ranked Bowles at No. 25. He moves up here because he’s got three more years of experience leading the Jets deeper and deeper into misery. Call me sadistic, but I have to hear all about this.
20. Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins
He ranked somewhat high on the list three years ago because I just desperately needed someone to pretend to be Jon Gruden. But now that we have Jon Gruden, Jay has become superfluous. One Gruden’s a party; two’s a crowd.
THE ‘O.K., THIS CAN WORK’ DIVISION
19. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Not a hootenanny of a fellow necessarily, but the man has worked for Jerry Jones for a decade, serving as the head coach for eight years. Just based on the stories about Jones that we got from Mark Leibovich spending one night with Jerry, imagine what kind of tales Garrett might be able to spin.
You could also make him pick up the tab. I bet he’s got a big bank account.
18. Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
I got a feeling that this guy wouldn’t even touch the beer. Wouldn’t even look at the beer. Would probably bust out one of those healthy goo packets and guzzle that down, then break into a stretching routine in the middle of the bar. Would be real embarrassing. Good guy but maybe not the best setting for a hang. Feel like he’d be atop the list of NFL Coaches With Whom You’d Most Like To Hike A Mountain.
What I’m trying to say is that he’s too pretty and too fit. What, do you think you’re better than me, Sean McVay? DO YOU?!
17. Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins
Seems like he has a real hot streak. And as you’ll see going forward, the ability to bring a ruckus to the party is a big selling point. Watching him dump on reporters in recent weeks and months has bumped up his stock.
16. Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles
Along the same lines as Gase, it’d be interesting to see how long it would take for Pederson to snap at someone. The bus boy for taking his plate before he ate every last bit of meat off his wing. The waitress for asking him what he wants for a side. The bartender for not changing the channel on the TV. Unclear. But what is clear: if you flip out at the media, you gain standing in my eyes. Given my profession, that may seem incongruous, but, well, here we are.
But, I’m willing to bet that when you interview to be head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, they demand to watch you drink a six pack in an hour or less. Doug looks like he could pass with flying colors. Add in the stories he’d have about Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb, and this would be a fun one. Hopefully he wouldn’t talk about the decision to call The Philly Special all night long, though. We get it, man. Trick play.
15. Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons
This would be worth it just for the test of seeing how long you could go without bringing up Super Bowl LI. I don’t think I’d last more than four minutes.
I also gotta know about these clocks.
14. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Listen, Ron Rivera is one cool dude. I don’t know why I know this, but I do. Look at him. Cool dude. Let’s get a beer, man.
13. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
Maybe not as rambunctious or boisterous as some of his colleagues, I think Harbaugh’s got a good combination of dry wit and burning rage that would make for good conversation. He’s little bit more on the rails than his brother but would bring juuuuust enough crazy to spice things up.
12. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
For one, nobody would mess with you. Nobody is going to be stepping up to Mike Tomlin, so you’d be free to loudly shout at anyone you’d like. Tomlin would make a good personal protector.
And if you wanted to talk to Tomlin instead of fight random people, he’d definitely serve you up all sorts of entertaining statements that don’t really make a whole lot of sense. We want volunteers, not hostages. Uhhh … sure yeah, keep going. Give me more.
THE HONORARY GROUP
Dan Campbell, Jim Tomsula
These guys ranked highly in 2015, and going back in the time capsule and seeing what was said about them, it made me wistful. And what I said about each coach still stands.
This would be a one-time only event, because I don’t think I have what it takes to hang with Dan Campbell on a regular basis. I just envision us cracking open beers with our teeth, and chasing each beer with five Red Bulls and a headbutt against the wall. We’d be running Oklahoma drills with strangers inside the bar before midnight, and I might end up in a hospital by 2 a.m., but I honestly would have a grand time.
To be honest, this was really no contest. Here are some conditions that make you an automatic friend of mine:
1. Has mustache
2. Loves steak (look at him; he obviously loves steak)
3. Farts during press conferences
4. Is a straight-up dude
Boom, boom, boom and boom. Tomsula is the clear-cut choice at No. 1, both because it would be a fun time in and of itself, and because it would be the start of a long and glorious friendship.
“Want to go get a big steak and a hundred beers, friend Jim?”
“Sure do, friend Mike.”
Sigh. If only.
You may not be NFL head coaches anymore, but consider this column a standing invite for friendship, Jim and Dan.
11. Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
Just trying to be consistent here. A few weeks ago I saw Shanahan’s sideline getup in Green Bay and declared that I’d love to hit a brewery with that guy. What kind of person would I be if I didn’t follow through on that proclamation and rank Shanahan highly here? A bad person, that’s what kind of person I’d be.
Bonus points, too, because just like Dan Quinn, you could really have some fun with Super Bowl LI-related questions. Kyle, in your opinion, what is it about a five-step drop on third-and-1 that is just so enticing?!?!?!
10. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
The conversation would be pretty straightforward.
What’s the secret, man?
How do you do it?
How can I also unlock the door to perpetual employment despite mediocre performance?
Teach me the way, Marvin.
9. Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans
Bill ranks highly on this list yet again because I’m entertained by the mans’ use of cuss words. The guy knows his way around a swear. He also seems like a ball buster of the highest order. And as long as you’re in a certain type of establishment, that’s a fun person to be around.
8. Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
I just feel like if you go out with Andy Reid, everybody has a good time. The dude can toss on his finest Hawaiian shirt, and things can just get real weird. Everyone will be happy. You’ll be the epicenter of every party you enter. Andy Reid: Good time.
(Though you might not make it home before curfew.)
(That was a clock management joke ha ha ha.)
7. Gregg Williams, Cleveland Browns
Honestly, kind of a wild card choice here. If this was a power ranking for which of these guys would likely lead to you ending up in jail, Gregg’s probably Nos. 1, 2 and 3.
Gregg might rank higher but the braggadocio act with all the job offers and everything might get old fast.
6. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
I stand by what I said about Payton last time I did this: Payton strikes me as an affable but no-nonsense kind of guy. He seems like he’d be fine to chill out and sip some cheap beer in a dusty bar without speaking while a blues guitarist plays off to the side for a few hours. I’d be fine with that.
P.S. — Have you ever seen Sean Payton without his visor on? If not, buckle up, because this is about to get real:
5. Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars
Have you ever heard Doug Marrone speak? That’s all you need to know. From his undying devotion to bologna, to his decision to never watch the Super Bowl, Doug Marrone is always interesting. Maybe not as flashy a name as you might expect for such a high ranking, but if you stepped out with Doug, you’d have a great time.
4. Jon Gruden, Oakland Raiders
I mean. Duh.
Aside from all of the obvious reasons, I feel like by the end of the night, Gruden might consider you a close personal friend for life. He might carry around a poster at all times so he can slap a photo of you on there and name you his Gruden Grinder.
If you don’t want to party with Jon Gruden, you’re nuts.
P.S. — Gruden might move up a couple of spots if he came in a package deal with Mark Davis. A night on the town (at P.F. Chang’s) with Gruden and Mark Davis? My goodness. Life would only move downhill from there.
3. Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions
Maybe if you got him drunk enough, he would let it slip why Malcolm Butler didn’t play in the Super Bowl. (For real though, why didn’t Malcolm Butler play in the Super Bowl?) Even if you never got that nugget out of him, the man has probably got a story or two about what life is like coaching under Bill Belichick for a decade-and-a-half.
Plus, not for nothing, but, well, you know, Patricia is a rocket scientist. So if you ever wanted to live out the “my boy’s wicked smaahhht” scene from “Good Will Hunting, then this would presumably present a good opportunity.
Just make sure you’re not slouching in your bar stool. That’s a big time no-no around Matty P.
2. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Ah, yes. The GOAT holds firm to his spot at No. 2 on this list, because, well, there’s nobody else among the NFL’s head coaches who could entertain you and educate you. Granted, this wouldn’t be a full-on party. You’d probably have to bring a notebook and a pencil, and you might not get to even finish that beer. But you’d walk away a better person.
1. Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans
Looking for fun? Looking for someone who can cause a ruckus? Looking for someone who won’t be messed with by anyone? Looking for someone who can stand his ground if needed? Looking for someone who can probably put down several pitchers without showing any ill effects? Looking for the ultimate dude?
Mike Vrabel checks all the boxes. No contest.
The only drawback from a night out with Vrabes is that you just know you’d wake up the next day around 1 p.m., roughed up, unable to move, and Vrabel will have already run a few miles, lifted and watched film for two hours.
So there you have it. My unequivocally correct, bulletproof rankings of which coaches would be best for a trip to the local watering hole. The rankings — just like the NFL’s roster of coaches itself — remains subject to change.
HURLEY’S WEEK 11 NFL PICKS
SEATTLE (-3) over Green Bay
JACKSONVILLE (+5.5) over Pittsburgh
Tennessee (+1) over INDIANAPOLIS
Dallas (+3) over ATLANTA
WASHINGTON (+3) over Houston
Carolina (-4.5) over DETROIT
Cincinnati (+4.5) over BALTIMORE
NEW YORK GIANTS (-1) over Tampa Bay
Oakland (+5) over ARIZONA
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-7) over Denver
NEW ORLEANS (-9) over Philadelphia
Minnesota (+2.5) over CHICAGO
Kansas City (+3.5) over LOS ANGELES RAMS
Last week: 7-6-1