Inside the Panthers

Panthers’ Ron Rivera among top 10 coaches, but behind Bruce Arians, Mike Zimmer?

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is ranked No. 8 among NFL head coaches by USA Today, but some of the coaches ahead of him are head-scratchers.
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is ranked No. 8 among NFL head coaches by USA Today, but some of the coaches ahead of him are head-scratchers. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

We’ve reached a quiet stretch in the NFL calendar, with the Panthers and most other teams allowing reporters in for just one OTA practice per week.

The lull before June minicamps and July training camps makes for a good time for publications to come up with various lists to generate debate and web clicks.

We bit on the click bait that is USA Today’s ranking of the NFL’s 32 head coaches, which came out Wednesday.

There’s no argument with the top of the list, where Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll lead the way at Nos. 1 and 2.

After that, some head-scratching.

USA Today has Bruce Arians ranked No. 3 and the Vikings’ Mike Zimmer at No. 4. Both are terrific coaches, and Arians should be in the top 10 just on his quotes alone.

But there’s no way they should be ahead of such Super Bowl-winning coaches as Sean Payton (No. 5), Mike Tomlin (6) and Mike McCarthy (9). I don’t have as much of an issue with Gary Kubiak at 14 given his pedestrian, eight-year tenure in Houston.

Ron Rivera, No. 8 on the list, doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring as a head coach. But he’s won three consecutive division titles, is 2-0 vs. Arians in the postseason and has a more established track record than Zimmer.

Rivera also has two NFL Coach of the Year awards in the past three years.

The rest of the list looks to be mostly on the mark, although I would’ve put Chuck Pagano (No. 20) several spots higher and Todd Bowles (15) and Jay Gruden (17) lower.

The other two NFC South coaches are both ranked among the bottom seven – with Atlanta’s Dan Quinn at No. 26 and Tampa Bay’s Dirk Koetter ahead of only Tennessee’s Mike Mularkey.

  Comments