We are approaching the halfway point of The National Football League
season. For me watching football is like devouring my wife’s pot roast; I
have enjoyed eating half of the plate, but I know the rest will be gone
before I can bat an eye. So far we have seen some terrific performances
by individuals and teams as well. When it comes to preparation for each
Sunday it starts with the head coach as he tries to prepare his team to
the best of his ability and give his team in a chance to win. Sometimes
the deck is stacked against teams going into a season and these head
coaches have done a terrific job to start 2011.
1. Marvin Lewis-Cincinnati Bengals
Palmer would rather retire than play another down for The Bengals.
Palmer finally got wish as he was traded to The Oakland Raiders. Wide
Receiver Chad Ochocinco and all of his touchdown celebrations were
packed up and sent to The New England Patriots. Wide receiver Terrell
Owens was shown the door. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph signed with The
Houston Texans and thus The Bengals were left for dead. The Bengals
finished 2010 with a record of 4-12 and they were expected to be bottom
feeders in 2011.
The Bengals drafted wide receiver A.J. Green with the fourth overall
pick in April’s NFL Draft and quarterback Andy Dalton in the second
round. Green is averaging over 15 yards per reception and Dalton has
been a great game manager in guiding The Bengals to a 4-2 record.
Head coach Marvin Lewis’ specialty is defense and The Bengals are
ranked eighth in The NFL in that category. Lewis has gotten rid of the
excess baggage in Cincy and this team could surprise teams in The AFC
with a wild card berth.
2.Chan Gailey-Buffalo Bills
So far The Bills have been
a tremendous surprise this season. Head coach Chan Gailey and his squad
served up a nice slice of humble pie to me as coming into the season
they were a team that looked like a rudderless ship and I pegged them
for a record of 2-14. The Bills are 4-2 and have put the league on
notice that they will be contenders this season.
Back-to-back comeback wins against The Raiders and The New England
Patriots recharged the fan base in Western New York. Prior to the season
The Bills traded wide receiver Lee to The Baltimore Ravens. The Bills
also gave up on their 2009 first round draft pick Aaron Maybin who the
The two losses by The Bills were by a combined total of six points.
Gailey has turned quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick into a potential Pro Bowl
player as Fitzpatrick has a 2-1 touchdown to interception ratio this
season. Gailey’s Bills have given notice that The AFC East is no longer
the exclusive property of The Patriots and The New York Jets.
3. Jim Schwartz-Detroit Lions
When Jim Schwartz took
over The Lions in 2009 there was only one way to go and that was up. The
Lions were coming off of a season that saw them finish with a record of
0-16. After Schwartz’s first two seasons on the job, the people in
Motown are thinking about the postseason and not to see other teams
play. The Lions are 5-1 and have a “wrecking crew” for a defensive line
led by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The Lions finished 2010 by
winning four in a row to finish 6-10. They jumped out of the gate this
season by winning their first five which included comeback road
victories over The Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys. Schwartz has
led his young Lions from the outhouse with their sights on the penthouse
relatively quickly as 10-6 looks like a good possibility for this
4. Jim Harbaugh-San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49er
head coach is winner at every level of football. Harbaugh was the
quarterback of The Michigan Wolverines and he led them to a Rose Bowl
berth in 1987. Harbaugh was a quarterback in The NFL as he led The
Indianapolis Colts to The AFC Championship Game in 1995. In 2004
Harbaugh became the head coach at The University of San Diego and over
his last two seasons there, The Tereros only lost two football games.
Harbaugh then took his magic to Stanford University where he turned
around The Cardinal program which included an Orange Bowl victory last
Now Harbaugh has done one of his best jobs in his rookie season in
San Francisco. Aside from the Niners being in first place in The NFC
West, Harbaugh has developed quarterback Alex Smith into what The 49er
organization hoped for when they drafted him as the first overall pick
in 2005. Smith is enjoying his most productive season as a pro in which
his completion percentage is over 63%.
Harbaugh’s 49ers have comeback road victories against The Philadelphia
Eagles and The Detroit Lions. The 49ers have a strangle hold on a
division title as they are a “lock” for the playoffs.
5. Tom Coughlin-New York Giants
If Tom Coughlin were
the head coach of a small market team, he would constantly be praised
for his leadership ability. Coughlin is the head coach of The New York
Giants and he doesn’t get the credit that he deserves. Fans in The Big
Apple forget that it hasn’t been five years since Coughlin and The
Giants were holding up The Vince Lombardi Trophy in Arizona. Once the
lockout ended, The Giants lost many key players to free agency.
Players like defensive tackle Marvin Austin were drafted to replace
players such as defensive tackle Barry Cofield who signed with The
Washington Redskins. Austin suffered a season-ending injury in training
camp. Quarterback Eli Manning lost two of his key targets in wide
receiver Steve Smith and tight end Kevin Boss as free agents. Center
Shaun O’Hara was released while defensive end Osi Umenyiora was holding
out for more money. Before the season started, The Giants were left for
Coughlin’s Giants lead The NFC East after six games with a record of
4-2. They were able to end their six-game losing streak against The
Philadelphia Eagles and Manning led two comeback victories over The
Bills and The Arizona Cardinals. Manning has cut down on his
interceptions from last season where he threw 25.
The Giants have also seen lingering injuries to defensive end Justin
Tuck, running back Brandon Jacobs, and guard Chris Snee. Through all of
this Coughlin has his Giants prepared for battle on Sunday.