Of Sure Things, Brain Drains and Churn: It's Quiz Time

Grizz and I were talking about coaches yesterday, namely Wade Phillips, the cup cake slurs he faces, and his many uninspiring qualities. 

Which got me thinking, how many NFL teams can claim they have sure things as head coaches?  And with that, I've put together a quiz.  Answer quickly and answer honestly -- no fair googling. Answers below.

Question One:  How many active NFL coaches have coached a team to a title?  I'm talking about leading a team as a head coach.  Winning as a player or assistant doesn't count.

Question Two:  How many active NFL coaches have coached their teams to a Super Bowl, win or lose?

Question Three:  There have been 34 team this decade who have finished with losing records one year and made the playoffs the following year, an average of nearly four per season.  Here's the most recent crop:

  • Miami:  1-15 in '07, 11-5 in '08
  • Atlanta: 4-12 in '07,  11-5 in '08
  • Baltimore: 5-11 in '07, 11-5 in '08
  • Carolina: 7-9 in '07, 12-4 in '08

The pattern has been consistent.  Only twice this decade have fewer than four teams made the loser-to-playoffs jump in a given year.  If the churn continues, which four losers will make it this year?   Here's the candidate pool:

  • AFC -- Kansas City, Oakland, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Buffalo;
  • NFC -- St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco, Detroit, Green Bay

Predict '09's "Fantastic Four."  I'm going to say Jacksonville, Buffalo, Seattle and Green Bay

Question Four:  The NFL playoff field churns an average of 50% from year to year.  Last season, only five of the twelve playoff teams from '07 returned -- the Giants, Steelers, Colts, Chargers and Titans.  As you can see, only one NFC team repeated. 

Here's the '08 field.  I want you to pick the five or six who will repeat:

  • NFC -- Giants, Eagles, Vikings, Panthers, Falcons, Cardinals
  • AFC -- Dolphins, Steelers, Ravens, Colts, Chargers, Titans

Usually the NFC has the most turnover.  This year, I'm see more of the same.  I'm going to say the Giants, Panthers, Steelers, Chargers and Titans return, with the other seven spots receiving fresh blood.  My '09 version of the '08 Panthers or the '07 Packers, a team that was so-so who rockets to 12-4 or 13-3 this time around?  The Saints.

Have at it.   Answers upcoming.

Question One: Only three active head coaches who have won Super Bowls as coaches, and two have come in the last two seasons -- Bill Belichick (3) Tom Coughlin (1) and Mike Tomlin (1). 

That's it, ladies and gentlemen.  Has there ever been a shallower pool of NFL head coaches, experience wise?  We've witnessed been an incredible brain drain in recent years, as Bill Parcells, Joe Gibbs, Mike Holmgren, Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Dick Vermeil and Tony Dungy have left the game.  That's twelve combined titles and eighteen Super Bowl appearances right there. 

Consider that only eight coaches -- Belichick, Coughlin, Reid, Fox, Smith, Fisher, Jack Del Rio and Marvin Lewis --  have been at their current jobs for more than three years.  Reid and Fisher are the only guys to stay ten years on the same job.  It's a fickle business.

Question Two:  Only eight active coaches have led their teams to a Super Bowl.  Three reside in the AFC -- Tomlin, Belichick and Jeff Fisher -- and five work in the NFC -- Coughlin, Andy Reid, Lovie Smith, John Fox and Ken Whisenhunt.

Cowboys fans have every right to feel uninspired about Wade Phillips, but they've got plenty of company.  How many guys on this winners list were on the hot seat the last couple of years?

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